Michigan Contractor Licenses

The construction industry in the state of Michigan is showing solid resurgence. We’re seeing a boom in construction projects especially in the city of Detroit where it’s in the process of shedding its image as a corrupt and economically problematic city.

This is a good and welcome development, but a problematic one at that. With the rising demand, construction companies are finding it hard to keep up because they don’t have the manpower to provide for this demand.

When you’re getting ready to move forward with your home improvement project, make sure to get quotes from competing contractors. Simply fill out the form below and we’ll match you with the most relevant ones. It’s that easy!

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As a potential project owner, this can be very problematic for you because you’ll find it hard to find a competent contractor that has the time and manpower to do your project. It may tempt you to hire an unlicensed one. Hopefully, this article will convince you that you should hire a licensed one if requirements call for it.

As a professional in the construction industry, this article will also benefit you as it discusses everything about Michigan contractor licenses. You’ll know if you should get one, advantages of getting one and how to get one.

Generally speaking, a general contractor needs to get a residential builders license in order to work on both residential and residential/commercial projects. You are considered to be a contractor if you work on the construction, alteration or improvement of real estate for clients.

Importance of Hiring a Contractor with a License

As a project owner, why do you need to hire a contractor with a license? Here are the benefits that you’ll get:

  • You will get an experienced and competent contractor.

With the amount of money that exchanges hands in the construction industry, it just follows that it’s not that easy to get a Michigan contractor license. There’s a strict and very specific process to get one, so only experienced and competent contractors pass the licensing process.

A quick lookup of their licensing information can also help you do research on their competency. The licensing process creates a paper trail so you’ll have all the details that you need to check the company out.

You can make do with a handyman or an unlicensed contractor for small projects provided that you do your homework and you determine that they can do the job that you have adequately. But for bigger projects, it pays off to hire the right contractor for the job. In most cases, it should be a licensed one, at least when required by the law.

  • Your project will comply with the requirements by the government.

The city and federal government understandable set strict requirements for the construction industry. Certain permits have to be pulled and regular inspections will be done. A licensed contractor can pull the necessary permits and will make sure that the project will pass the regular inspections.

This can prove to be very helpful if you do decide to sell your home in the future. Potential buyers may ask for the permits and inspection records so it pays to have them.

More importantly, this can ensure that your project will be finished without any problems caused by lack of permits. Do you really want to experience delays just because you don’t have the permits for it?

  • Your project will be done systemically.

A licensed contractor is an experienced one. This means that they already have a system in place – from the design to the turnover. These contractors follow a certain system because it makes the job easier for them. They set a deadline that they know they can comply with because not doing so can create a negative domino effect for them.

This system will be taken into consideration when they put together a legal contract that can protect all parties involved. They also know the importance of good communication all throughout the project and this is something you’d appreciate.

  • You can take advantage of their competent network.

Suppliers and other professionals also prefer to network with licensed contractors. This is why if you hire one, you will also take advantage of such a network. This means your project will be supplied by competent suppliers and work will be done by the right sub-contractors. This can mean better deals, fewer problems, and overall great job.

  • You will be protected.

Licensing also requires insurance and bond. This is why it’s a good idea to hire a professional with licensing so the protection that insurance and bond provide spills over to you. You wouldn’t want to be left with a half-finished project because the contractor can’t finish it anymore. You also wouldn’t want to be held liable when something goes wrong.

  • A licensed contractor will see to it that the project is finished.

They know that they should be accountable to their project. Whatever happens, they will see to it that the project is completed, even if it means that they have to use their own resources. This is because they know that you can easily file a complaint, and they wouldn’t want one across their name.

How to Get a Contractor’s License and Advantages of Getting One

Here’s a simple advantage to getting one – you will be considered by project owners that want to experience the benefits listed above, which is basically everyone. In case you want more specifics, here are more advantages of getting one:

  • You will be more credible.

Credibility is a very important consideration of project owners looking for someone to hire. Of course, you’d want to hire someone credible, so you’d want to be seen as one. These project owners know that not all contractors can be licensed so if you have one, you will instantly be seen as someone who’s credible.

It also help you avoid the awkward question of why you’re not licensed which is a question against your credibility.

  • You will be able to bid for projects with a higher income potential.

To put it simply, projects with a higher cost provide a higher income potential for you. You have the potential to earn more on a project that costs $50,000 than one that costs $10,000. It’s just simple math.

Bigger projects require a license and you will be able to bid for them if you have one. These include government projects and with the booming construction industry in Michigan, there are a lot of them.

This is not to say that you can’t be successful with just working on small projects. There are a lot of very successful handymen that earn a lot of money. But why stop there if you have what it takes to work on and earn from bigger projects?

  • You will avoid problems with the government.

You wouldn’t want to have the government knocking asking you for things that you don’t have. What happens if they come knocking at the site asking to see your license and you don’t have it? Project stoppage will be the least of your problems. You’d have to deal with potential fines, penalties and even jail time.

In the state of Michigan it’s the Building Division that is in charge of administering and enforcing the Michigan Building Code. They’re also in charge of ensuring that the proper building permits have been pulled, and will handle violations when necessary.

  • You can advertise your services as a licensed contractor.

Marketing and advertising your services are a must if you want to get clients. It’s easier to do so if you can advertise yourself as a licensed contractor. Just the word licensed in your advertisement can really help you capture the attention of potential clients.

  • You will gain more prestige.

It’s either you’re a part of the group of unlicensed contractors or licensed ones. What group do you think is more prestigious? Needless to say, it’s the latter.

In addition, you can be a member of contractor groups in Michigan that only accept licensed contractors. That can add to your prestige.

There is the issue of timing. Not everyone should get licensing right now. It’s either you’re ready or not. If you’re ready, you should get it. If not, then don’t. Just make sure that you’re not bidding for projects that require licensing.

How will you know if you’re ready? You should have enough experience working on projects. This allows you to pass the necessary exams. You can’t pass these exams if you don’t have the trade experience.

There’s also the issue of experience when it comes to bidding. Licensing allows you to bid on bigger projects. While this is a welcome opportunity, it’s an opportunity that you shouldn’t grab yet if you’re not experienced when it comes to bidding. This is because you will probably bid too high which will of course lead to the project owner choosing someone else.

Worse, it can also lead to you bidding too low which will lead to unfortunate financial troubles. Can you imagine bidding $75,000 on a $100,000 project?

If you feel that you’re ready, you’d have to deal with the Licensing Division of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. This division has the responsibility of ensuring that all applicants are eligible to take the exam. They will also issue the registration and the licensing if they pass.

Michigan State Licensing Board for Contractors

In the past, licensing was handled by the Licensing Division of the Bureau of Professional Licensing. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs wanted to improve the customer experience, so they moved the responsibility of licensing contractors from the Bureau of Professional Licensing to the Bureau of Construction Codes. As of August 27, 2018, the Bureau of Construction Codes has been made responsible for ensuring that the industry produces projects that are deemed sound and safe for their users.

The board holds office at this address:

1st Floor Ottawa Building

611 W. Ottawa Street

Lansing, MI 48933

You can reach the office of its director and deputy directors at 517-241-9302. There are also phone numbers specific to different licensing classifications which will be provided later on in this article. For general licensing inquiries, you can contact 517-241-9316. You can also contact them via email at lara-bcc-licensing@michigan.gov.

Michigan Online Contractor License Search & Lookup

There’s a Verify a License page at the Department of Licensing and Regulatory affairs. The list is rather short, but feel free to check it out here. When you’re trying to lookup a builder’s license, go here.

When you want to lookup electrical licenses, go here and find the link that says “Search for a Licensee”. Looking up a mechanical contractor license is done through the same link. You will also need to go to the same page in order to lookup plumber licenses, whether it’s for a master plumber or another level.

Contractor License Classifications in the state of Michigan

These are the different classifications and divisions in the state of Michigan:

  • Residential building, maintenance and alteration

This division is responsible for licensing and regulating contractors involved in residential building, maintenance and alteration, often also referred to as the general contractor license.

  • Electrical

This division administers and enforces the Michigan Electrical Code. In addition to ensuring the issuance of proper electrical permits, they also conduct inspections and are responsible for following up on violations.

  • Boiler

This division administers and enforces the Michigan Boiler Code. In addition to ensuring the issuance of proper boiler permits, they also conduct inspections of related equipment. They also investigate accidents and violations including boilers.

  • Mechanical

This division administers and enforces the Michigan Mechanical Code. In addition to ensuring the issuance of proper mechanical licenses in Michigan, they also conduct inspections of related equipment. They also investigate violations involving the Michigan Mechanical Code.

  • Plumbing

This division administers and enforces the Michigan Plumbing Code. In addition to ensuring the issuance of proper plumbing permits, they also conduct inspections of related equipment. They also investigate violations involving the Michigan Plumbing Code.

  • Elevator

You need a license to work as an elevator journeyperson or contractor. The examination is conducted by PSI.

Michigan Residential Building or Maintenance and Alteration Contractor License

You need to download this form if you need to apply as a Michigan residential building or maintenance and alteration contractor. An important requirement is 60 hours of approved pre-licensure education. The program should include at least 6 hours each of the following competency requirements:

  • Business management and job estimation and costing.
  • Science of building and design.
  • Contracts, liabilities and management of risks.
  • Sales and marketing.
  • Project scheduling and management.
  • Updated residential code of the state along with safety standards in the construction industry.

Of course, you need to completely fill out the form. You also need to submit the following requirements:

  • State-issued ID (driver’s license preferred).
  • If you’re not a resident of the state, you also need to submit the form Consent to Service of Process.
  • If you’re requesting for the fee to be waived because you served in the Armed Forces, you need to submit either form DD214 or DD215. You can also submit any other form that shows that you left the service with an honorable character of service.
  • If you’d like to request waiver of the pre-licensure education requirement, you should submit a signed affidavit by a military superior (like a commanding officer or supervisor) showing that you have at least entry-level of experience in the required competencies. You can also submit a signed affidavit from the same people showing which among those required competencies you have experience in.

Speaking of the fees, you need to pay $195 if you’ll file for an individual residential builder license or individual maintenance and alternation license. Relicensure is cheaper at $185. The fee is waived if you’re an Armed Forces veteran.

Michigan Electrical Contractor License

The state issues the necessary electrical contractor license to residents of the state except in the cities of Detroit and Grand Rapids (more on that later).

You can apply as an electrical or fire alarm specialty technician apprentice using this form. These are the other types of licenses that you can apply for together with their requirements:

  • Journeyman
  • Download and fill out this form.
  • At least 8,000 hours of experience in the field of electrical construction while under the direct supervision of a professional considered to be licensed under Act 217 of 1956. The hours should be spread out in at least 4 years (maximum of 2,000 hours per year).
  • A government-issued ID showing that you’re at least 20 years of age.
  • Pass the exam to be conducted by PSI.
  • If you underwent and graduated from a training program that’s recognized by the state, submit proof because credits may be given under the board’s discretion.
  • Master
    • Download and fill out this form.
    • At least 12,000 hours of experience in the field of electrical construction while under the direct supervision of a master electrician. The hours should be spread out in at least 6 years.
    • A government-issued ID showing that you’re at least 22 years of age.
    • Pass the exam to be conducted by PSI.
  • Electrical contractor
    • Download and fill out this form.
    • You should be a holder of a master’s electrician license. Alternatively, you can also show proof that at least 1 master electrician who’s also a resident of Michigan is under your full-time employment. If you’re from out of state, the second alternative also applies.
    • Pass the exam to be conducted by PSI.
  • Fire alarm specialty technician
    • Download and fill out this form.
    • You should have proper certification from the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technology. This means that you should have level II certification or you should be certified as an associate engineering technician. The board can also determine if your certification is equivalent to their requirement.
    • A government-issued ID showing that you’re at least 20 years of age.
    • Pass the exam to be conducted by PSI.
  • Fire alarm contractor
    • Download and fill out this form.
    • You should be a holder of a fire alarm specialty technician’s license. Alternatively, you can also show proof that at least 1 fire alarm specialty technician who’s also a resident of Michigan is under your full-time employment. If you’re from out of state, the second alternative also applies.
    • Pass the exam to be conducted by PSI.
  • Sign specialist
    • Download and fill out this form.
    • At least 4,000 hours of experience in the field of electrical signs while under the direct supervision of a licensed sign contractor. The hours should be spread out across at least 2 years.
    • Proof of completion of an approved training course under 1956 PA 217.
    • A government-issued ID showing that you’re at least 18 years of age.
    • Pass the exam to be conducted by PSI.
  • Sign specialty contractor
    • Download and fill out this form.
    • You should be a holder of a sign specialist license. Alternatively, you can also show proof that at least 1 fire sign specialist who’s also a resident of Michigan is under your full-time employment. If you’re from out of state, the second alternative also applies.
    • You must show proof that you have public liability insurance.
    • Pass the exam to be conducted by PSI.

Michigan Boiler Contractor License

You need to pass the exam conducted by the PSI. Download and complete this form to apply for said examination. There are 5 different classes that you can register for:

  • Low pressure boiler operator

To apply, you must have at least a year of experience when it comes to the operation and/or maintenance of high or low pressure boilers.

  • High pressure boiler operator.

You should also have at least one of the following:

  • At least 2 years of experience operating a high pressure boiler.
  • Registration as a low pressure boiler operator plus a year of experience in the operations of a low pressure boiler.
  • Proof that you’ve underwent at least a year of training in a qualified program.
  • 3rd class stationary engineer

You need to meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • You are a high pressure boiler operator with at least a year of experience doing so and a registered one at that.
  • You are a low pressure boiler operator with at least a year of experience doing so and a registered one at that. You also have at least a year of experience maintaining high pressure boilers.
  • You are a registered operator of high pressure boilers and you have at least a year of experience in their maintenance. Alternatively, you can also show proof that you underwent at least a year of apprenticeship in a training program that’s been approved by the board. The training program should have taken place in a high boiler pressure plant with at least 4,000 square feet of combined heating surface.
  • You have at least 3 years of boiler operation experience in a high boiler pressure plant with at least 4,000 square feet of combined heating surface.
  • You have at least a year of boiler operation experience in a high boiler pressure plant with at least 4,000 square feet of combined heating surface. Additionally, you should also have significant experience for at least 3 years (combined) in the operations of steam prime movers that are at least 10 horsepower.
  • You are a holder of an associate degree in any field related to energy technology plus a 2-year college power engineering option program that has been approved by the board. You should also have at least 360 hours of cooperative education or employment experience working as a power or stationary engineer or boiler operator in an approved plant.
  • 2nd class stationary engineer

To apply, you should meet at least 1 of these requirements:

  • You are a third-class stationary engineer, a registered one at that, with at least a year of experience as one.
  • You are a holder of a related bachelor degree like in engineering, energy technology and the likes from a board-approved institution. You should also be employed for at least a year working as an engineer in a plant that generates steam electric power.
  • You have at least 4 years of boiler operation experience in boiler operation in a high boiler pressure plant with at least 7,500 square feet of combined heating surface.
  • You have at least a year of boiler operation experience in a high boiler pressure plant with at least 7,500 square feet of combined heating surface. You should also have significant experience for at least 4 years (combined) in the operations of steam prime movers that are at least 100 horsepower.
  • You have at least a year of boiler operation experience in a high boiler pressure plant with at least 7,500 square feet of combined heating surface. You should also have significant experience for at least 4 years in the operations of boilers in a high pressure boiler plant with a combined heating surface of over 4,000 square feet.
  • 1st class stationary engineer

To apply, you should meet at least 1 of these requirements:

  • You are a second-class stationary engineer, a registered one at that, with at least 2 years of experience as one.
  • You have at least 6 years of boiler operation experience in boiler operation in a high boiler pressure plant with at least 20,000 square feet of combined heating surface.
  • You have at least 2 years of boiler operation experience in a high boiler pressure plant with at least 20,000 square feet of combined heating surface. You should also have significant experience for at least 6 years (combined) in the operations of steam prime movers that are at least 200 horsepower.
  • You have at least 2 years of boiler operation experience in a high boiler pressure plant with at least 20,000 square feet of combined heating surface. You should also have significant experience for at least 4 years (combined) in the operations of boilers in a high pressure boiler plant with a combined heating surface of over 7,500 square feet.
  • You have completed an apprenticeship or a similar training program for at least 4 years.
  • You have a 4 year bachelor’s degree from a board-approved institution in a program related to engineering or energy technology. You should also have a hands-on power option from a board-approved 2 year program from a community college and at least a year of experience in cooperative education or as an intern or employee in a plant that generates steam electric or a plant that processes high pressure steam heating.

There’s a $50 non-refundable application fee plus $80 for the specific class that you’re applying for.

Michigan Mechanical Contractor License

As a licensed mechanical contractor in Michigan, you can install, alter and service mechanical equipment. You can also secure the necessary permits. Here’s the application form that you need to fill out in order to apply.

There are different work classifications:

  • Hydronic heating and cooling and process piping
  • Ductwork
  • HVAC equipment
  • Refrigeration
  • Limited and unlimited heating service
  • Limited and unlimited air conditioning and refrigeration service
  • Fire suppression
  • Specialty

You need to have 3 years of experience in each of the classification that you’re applying for. You also need to take and pass its’ corresponding exam. The exam will be conducted by PSI.

Michigan Plumbing Contractor License

You can register as a plumbing apprentice. The application form can be found here. If you’re applying for a journeyman, master or plumbing contractor, use this form. Here are the additional requirements:

  • Journeyman
  • You should be 18 years old or older.
  • You should have at least 6,000 hours of work experience across at least 3 years working as a registered apprentice. You should have performed practical plumbing installation tasks under the watchful eyes and guidance of a licensed and authorized master plumber.
  • Pass the exam to be conducted by PSI.
  • Pay the $40 application fee at the time of your application.
  • Master
    • You should be 18 years old or older.
    • You should have at least 4,000 hours of work experience as a journeyman plumber preceding at least 2 years of the date of application.
    • Pass the exam to be conducted by PSI.
    • Pay the $300 application fee at the time of your application.
  • Plumbing contractor
    • You should have a master plumber license or have one under your direct employ.
    • You must solely own a sole proprietorship business or a partnership. Alternatively, you should be an officer of an LLC or a corporation.
    • Provide business or employment history for the past 5 years
    • Pay the $300 application fee at the time of your application.

Michigan Elevator Contractor License

You can either apply as a journeyman or as an elevator contractor. You can also apply for a certificate of competency or C of C. Either way; you can download the application form here.

  • Journeyman

You should have at least 3 years of straight employment either as a supervisor working in an elevator company or as a worker specializing in the construction, servicing, maintenance and repairs of elevators. If you have a degree in mechanical or electrical engineering from a recognized institution, up to a year can be credited.

You also have to pass the exam.

  • Contractor

You should have at least 5 years of experience working as an elevator journeyman or constructor. Anything that’s considered equivalent will also do. The work experience should be provided in the comprehensive resume that’s also required, together with a sworn affidavit. Of course, you also need to pass the exam.

  • C of C
  • General elevator inspector

You should have at least 3 years of experience in constructing elevators or anything considered to be equivalent. This also applies if you’ve been a journeyman. You should be able to provide at least 1 written reference that certifies how experienced you are in the industry. There are also oral and written exams that you have to pass.

  • Special elevator inspector

You should have at least 3 years of experience in the design, installation, maintenance and inspection of elevators, with at least 1 written reference that certifies said experience. There are also oral and written exams that you have to pass.

Detroit Contractor Licenses

The city of Detroit requires contractor licenses. You can find more information on Detroit contractor licenses here. Here are some of the contractors that will need a license to do business in Detroit:

Grand Rapids Contractor Licenses

You can apply to become a prequalified contractor for the city of Grand Rapids and its projects. The city’s engineering department handles the prequalification. You can download the form here to start the application process.

You can also apply in person at this address:

City of Grand Rapids Engineering

300 Monroe Ave NW
5th floor

Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503

For more questions, you can contact 616-456-3100 or send an email to engineering@grcity.us.

Contractor License Reciprocity

If you have a valid license from another jurisdiction, you can apply for reciprocity provided that you can show that the trainings and experience that you have are the equivalent of the requirement in the state of Michigan. You can also apply for credits. For every 6 months of work experience, a credit of 100 hours can be applied towards the required training hours.