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The 6 Steps To Get a Georgia Residential and General Contractor License

The 6 Steps To Get a Georgia Residential and General Contractor License

Getting your residential and/or commercial contractor license in Georgia is straightforward. While the steps are mostly clear, there are a few concepts that might be brand new to you. This article will break each step out and explain what you need to do to complete it.

Here are the steps. You can click on one to skip around in the article.

  • Determine if you can get licensed through reciprocity
  • Choose your license classification
  • Make sure you have the minimum level of experience
  • Meet the financial responsibility requirements
  • Sign the application affidavit have it notarized and submit your application

The 6 Steps To Get a Georgia Residential and/or General Contractor License

There are 6 steps to getting your Georgia contractor license. 1. Choose your classification 2: Designate a qualifying agent 3: Getting licensed through examination or through reciprocity 4: Contracting experience requirements 5: Prove financial responsibility 6: Personal history and application affidavit

Step 1 - Choose a License Classification

There are five main classifications of residential and general contractors:

  • Residential Basic - Performs work on single and two family homes more than $2,500 per year
  • Residential Light Commercial - Performs work on more than two family homes include multiuse commercial buildings less than 4 stories tall and less than 25k in square footage
  • General Limited - Performs work on any project type and can't take on more than $1 million in project cost
  • General Unlimited - Performs work on any project type
  • Specialty Contractor - Performs work only in their specific trade as part of a larger project managed by a general contractor

Designate a Qualifying Agent

If a business entity like a corporation, partnership, or LLC is getting licensed, a qualifying agent must be appointed.

The qualifying agent is the individual who will be responsible for:

  • Must be an employee or part of ownership
  • Responsibility to supervise, direct, and control the construction activities for all permitted projects
  • Passed the required qualifications and examinations
  • Must include the necessary Secretary of State documents for the business entity
  • You must be the individual for the entity that has the authority for bidding on projects (the qualifying agent is the ONLY person who can do this)

Step 2 - Getting Licensed Through Examination or Reciprocity

Getting licensed through examination means you take the required exams to proof your knowledge and experience. Getting licensed through reciprocity means you are currently licensed in another state and that license can help you waive the examination requirement.

First, you need to determine if you'll get licensed through examination or through reciprocity.

If you have:

  • An active Residential Builders license from Louisiana, Mississippi, or South Carolina
  • Held the license active for the last 3 years
  • Obtained the license through examination
  • Not obtained any penalization within the last 3 years

You qualify to obtain a residential and general contractor license through reciprocity.

This means you can waive the required examination process.

Applying through reciprocity has its own - dedicated - application. Make sure you use the correct application or you will have to re-apply.

The Examination Process

Getting licensed through examination requires passing the required exam for the license classification you're using.

You, if you're a sole proprietor or if you're the qualifying agent for a business entity must pass the exam.

Residential Basic

This exam covers the following topics:

  • Site work, footings, and foundations
  • Concrete and concrete reinforcement
  • Masonry
  • Carpentry
  • Roofing
  • General Georgia code and construction knowledge
  • Associated trades
  • OSHA safety

Residential Light Commercial

This exam covers the following topics:

  • OSHA
  • Carpentry and building construction
  • Concrete construction
  • Masonry
  • Pipe and excavation
  • Gypsum construction
  • Steel joists and girders
  • Steel decks
  • Energy conservation
  • Georgia codes and construction knowledge

General Contractor

General contractors are required to take the NASCLA Accredited Examination for Commercial General Building Contractors

This exam covers all of the previous topics from the other license classifications including:

  • Reinforcing bars
  • Principles of commercial construction
  • Accessibility and usability for buildings and facilities
  • Roofing construction
  • Green building fundamentals
  • International building codes
  • Stormwater and pollution prevention
  • Construction project management

NASCLA (National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies) is an exam that is transferable to other states that use NASCLA exams. This makes getting licensed in neighboring states much easier.

Business and Law Exam

All license classifications are required to take the Georgia Business and Law exam which covers:

  • Estimating and bidding on projects
  • Business organization and financial management
  • Tax laws
  • Labor laws
  • Project management and lien laws
  • Contracts
  • Environment and safety

Step 4 - Contracting Experience

Residential Basic

You must show at least two years of proven work experience working as a residential contractor or in the employment of a residential contractor.

You must have significant responsibility for the successful performance and completion of at least two projects falling within the residential basic category in the two years preceding the application.

Residential Light Commercial

You must show:

  • A college degree in the field of engineering, architecture, construction management, building construction, or other field acceptable to the division
  • At least one year of proven experience working as or in the employment of a residential contractor, general contractor, or other proven experience deemed substantially similar by the division.
  • Or a combination of education and experience approved by the division
  • Have significant responsibility for the performance and completion of at least two projects falling within residential light commercial in the four years preceding the application.

General Contractor

General contractors have the same requirements as residential light commercial contractors above. However, their experience must be as a general contractor (in another state) or as employment with a licensed general contractor.

General contractors must show significant responsibility for at least one commercial project in which they were supervisor and had primary responsibility for the success of the project within the 5 years prior to submitting the application.

Step 5 - Prove Financial Responsibility

You need a minimum net worth of 25k and if you can't meet this requirement you can purchase a surety bond instead.

Georgia has the following net-worth requirements for each license classification":

  • General contractor must have minimum net-worth of $150,00
  • Residential basic - Minimum net-worth of $25,000
  • Residential light commercial - Minimum net-worth of $25,000
  • General contractor - Minimum net-worth of $150,000
  • General contractor limited - Minimum net-worth of $25,000

General limited can't take on projects of more than $1,000,000.

For Residential Basic license and the Residential Light Commercial, if you can't meet the net-worth requirement you can purchase a surety bond in lieu of meeting the net-worth requirement.

What is a Surety Bond?

A surety bond is a type of insurance that acts as a financial guarantee that you, as the contractor, will:

  • Follow all the rules, regulations, and Georgia contracting laws
  • Perform your contracting services with good business practices and ethics for your customers

This type of surety bond is often referred to as a contractor bond.

Georgia's state licensing board requires a bond in the amount of $25,000 for the protection of Georgia residents.

Georgia requires a licensing process to identify the qualified individuals and businesses who can add value to their communities.

However, every year there will be a few contractors who financially harm their customers to increase profits.

Actions of misconduct and/or fraud can include:

  • Not finishing a contract
  • Performing poor work and not following building codes
  • Swapping out materials without the customer's knowledge

If a contractor is found guilty of any fraudulent action against a customer, the customer can make a claim against the bond for financial reimbursement, but only up to the $25,000 bond amount.

How Much Does a $25,000 Bond Cost?

$25,000 is the amount of financial coverage afforded to your customers. The price to purchase a contractor bond is a small fraction of this amount.

A surety, the insurance company that underwrites surety bonds, will typically look at your personal credit when determining the price of the bond.

However, you can purchase your Georgia contractor bond for a low fixed price today from Surety Bonds Direct, with no credit check required.

Bond Amount Premium Rate Total Cost
$25,000 0.5% $125
$25,000 1.0% $250
$25,000 1.5% $375
$25,000 2% $500
$25,000 3% $750
$25,000 4% $1,000

Surety Bonds Direct is a surety agency. We work with multiple sureties to price shop for you and find the lowest possible price.

Additional Bonding Requirements

Each county and city may have it's own requirements for license bonds or permits. The most common are Augusta Richmond county and Columbia county.

Each county and municipality in Georgia may have additional bonding requirements to perform work in their country or city limits.

We've helped hundreds of Georgia contractors meet their bonding needs and the most common counties that require a bond are:

  • Augusta-Richmond county contractor license bond
  • Augusta-Richmond county low voltage contractor
  • Columbia county residential contractor bond

Most cities require permit bonds or right-of-way bonds for contractors hired for projects that involve public streets, sidewalks, sewers, and buildings.

In nearly every case, we're able to secure these additional bonds for low fixed prices.

If you have a bond need, use our free quote form to get the pricing process started or call a bond specialist today at 1-800-608-9950.

Liability Insurance And Workers Comp Insurance

Georgia's licensing board requires every contractor to hold a minimum level of liability insurance.

Liability insurance protects you as the business owner from accidental injury of a customer or employee.

The minimum levels of coverage are:

License Type Minimum Amount
Residential Basic Minimum of $300k
Residential Light Commercial Minimum of $500k
General Contractor Minimum of $500k

If you have more than 3 employees you're required to have a workers compensation insurance policy. This protects your workers from lost wages due to an injury while on the job.

Step 6 - Personal History and Applicant Affidavit

The final stages of the application process are outlining any criminal history or history of having an occupational license fined, suspended, or revoked.

If you have any history, you need to include a signed letter of explanation and a certified copy of the action taken per occurrence.

The applicant affidavit is a personal guarantee that the information in the application is accurate and that you are a legal citizen of the United States or a qualified alien resident.

Purchase Your Contractor Surety Bond Today And Save

Get a no purchase obligation price quote today. Know your price and then you can make the correct business decision for you and your business.

I hope this article helped make sense of the application and licensing process to become a contractor in Georgia.

When it comes time for you to get bonded, purchase your bond from Surety Bonds Direct.

After your purchase we'll immediately work to get your bond issued so you can get your application submitted.

If you have any questions about the bond, call a bond specialist today at 1-800-608-9950.

Surety Bonds Direct   Taylor Branum  

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