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Do You Need Contractors License To Owner Build?


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By Robert in San Jose, CA on 8/7/2004


Can anyone share with me whether or not it is neccessary to posses a contractors license when owner building?
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 8/10/2004


In my locale, I was required to get a contractor's license to pull the permit. It wasn't a big deal, just some paperwork to fill out and a $22.50 fee. The license was well worth it because it allows me to set up accounts at suppliers and negotiate better prices - they don't need to know that I am only building one house just that I am a residential home builder. I could probably get the same prices by using many more suppliers, but suppliers get a little more serious if they think there is repeat business coming their way. An added benefit to the accounts is that I can order materials and get invoiced later when I have time to turn it into the bank for a construction draw to pay the invoice, and frequently you get a 2% discount for quick payment. Cash accounts just aren't as convenient and don't offer this 2% discount even though you pay immediately.
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By Robert in San Jose, CA on 8/10/2004


Hi Ken, Thanks for responding. when you say getting a contractors license to "pull the permit" You mean the "building permit" right? and why would you need to pull the permit? Sorry, I'm definitely a new kid on the block with "owner-building", period. Your patience is very appreciated :-) I was under the impression you had to take an exam to get your contractors license that was 200 questions long. Am I wrong? Did I get the wrong information from someone?

All I have to do is pay $22.50 and WHAM - I have my contractors license? If so that would be great news! Regarding setting up accounts with that license via suppliers: Having the contractors license allowed you to get discounted pricing from what kind of suppliers? Home Depot? Lowe's? Direct Buy? I have an appointment today at Direct Buy which I hear is a great resource to save on building homes. I have read on the forum cost ranging from $2,900 to $3,500. The catch is you have to pay up front on your first visit. Although I read on the forum a woman in Texas negotiated a $100 down payment and worked her way to the required amount on her time line. This is more than likely what I will do if everything I hear sounds right when I go there today.

I also have a "resellers" license to buy and sell just about anything. My family owns a communications company that sells services and communication products to the Federal Government and many other organizations private and public. I planned on using this resellers license to negotiate wholesale or below prices direct from the manufacturers of many of the products needed to build a home. Thanks for responding!
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 8/16/2004


In my locale all you have to do is apply for a license to build houses and you can get one, no test to take. If you wish to do electrical, plumbing, or HVAC work, you either subcontract this out to a master or you demonstrate that you have a master on your staff. It is that easy. As far as discounts, most real contractors don't shop at Home Depot, Menards, or Lowes, but use specific supply houses that cater directly to their trade. These are typically wholesale only, so you need a contractors license to get an application. The prices are significantly better than retail, I was truly surprised at the markup on some materials, specifically plumbing. Although I have plumbing accounts setup, I found my plumber friend could easily beat my price significantly through his accounts at the same supply houses (and believe me my prices were better than anything you get at the big box home improvement stores) - so I was back to cash for plumbing. You need to get beyond the big box stores that cater to individuals and get to the trade specific shops that cater to professionals only, and the GC license is the key to this door.
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 8/16/2004


To answer your question about permits, who would you propose to obtain the building permit on a house you are owner-building? In my locale, they issue one building permit to the structure, not individual permits for each work package (footings, underground plumbing, DWV, water supply, sewer connection, HVAC, electrical rough, electrical finish, framing, etc.). However, the individual building permit covers all trades, and I had to be a contractor to get the permit. Since I already have the permit and am responsible for code compliance, I found it actually easier to get bids because I removed this source of administrative burden (standing in line at City Hall, applying for permit, etc.). As a precaution, subcontractors do not get paid until the code inspector signs off on their work (i.e. I paid the plumber 50% of his fee for the underground when he finished his work, and 50% of his fee two days later after the inspector signed off).
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By David in Escondido, CA on 9/17/2004


I DO NOT have to have a contractor license in San Diego County to get any kind of construction permit. I have already pulled an electrical permit and a septic permit myself and will soon be pulling the building permit. All I have to do is sign an agreement that I will not be hiring anyone that I will have to put under Worker's Comp or if I do I will provide it and that I will not build the house explicitly for resale and not to sell it before one year after completion. I believe this is state wide mandated by the Legislature and holds true in San Jose as well. Call your local County Department of Land Use and ask, or look them up on line at their web site.
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By David in Escondido, CA on 9/17/2004


Oh, I almost forgot. The local suppliers such as Pine Tree Lumber, Plumbing and Electrical wholesale, and Dixieline offer substantial discounts to owner-builders and have set up accounts for me so I can order for delivery or pick up materials as needed. I will be bidding the lumber material to two suppliers. Lowe's or Home Depot will not be among them. Their lumber is too shoddy and inferior as well as way over-priced.
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By Ray in Southampton, NY on 11/29/2005


Where can I get more info on getting a contractor's license? I'm in NY.

Thanks...RN

 


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 11/30/2005


I would call your local permitting department to find out the requirements to pull a building permit.
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By Mark on 12/2/2005


I AM LOOKING FOR AN OWER-BUILDER LOAN. DOES ANY ONE KNOW A WAY TO GET A LOAN WITHOUT HAVING A SITE SUPER OR A GENERAL CONTRACTOR?


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 12/2/2005


Mark,

Welcome to the forum, where are you located?  For items such as financing, I find that most banks willing to make O-B loans tend to be the smaller banks that work strictly on a regional level.  You can contact other members directly in your region by using Owner-Builder Connections (the icon is in the upper right hand corner of this page) - this way you can contact people in your region and potentially identify regional sources of financing.  There are also sources of O-B financing that work on the national level, I have no direct experience but there are several threads that have this information, although most of them are in the Financing forum.


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By Erik in Norwell, MA on 2/11/2006


Hi,

I was wondering if anyone had any owner-building experience in Massachusetts with respect to building permits and construction supervisor licenses.  The mass.gov website (mass.gov/bbrs) seems to indicate that a CSL license is required.  I read the application for the CSL license test and it requires that you have 3 years of experience in the field.  However, I see that there are many O-B listed on this website in MA.  If a CSL is required in order to build, then is there a way I can hire a "supervisor"... someone that simply fills that role?

Thanks,

Erik

 


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 2/14/2006


Try looking in your local state forum here. I bet the O-B's here will give you better answers than the state will.
Actually, your bank may be tougher than the state about credentials.
It also may depend on where your lot is. Some sub-divisions have rules and restrictions about being a "builder".

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By Filipo on 5/28/2018


In San Diego CA the Owner can be the Builder and you are not required to have a Liscense. You submit Drawings/Plans for the required work(Engineer Stamped where required) to the Building Permit office. They review and either accept and issue a permit or send it back for corrections then re-submit, pay your fees and start building yourself.

The Permit covers every aspect of the building trade necessary to complete your Owner Builder Project. You do not have to hire Contractors or Sub out any work that you can do yourself. After all, every facet of the project completed needs a City Inspector's Approval so if you don't pass inspection for say Framing, or Electrical work etc, the Inspector will list the corrections you have to make then call for another Framing or Electrical etc inspection. 
Makes a lot more sense after all, you are not in the business of building and selling houses. It's your Own House to live in and sell down the road and all the work is Permitted, built to Code and Fully Inspected by City Professional Inspectors, so why waste time and money on getting a Contractor License which you do not need to have anyway.
I have Done room additions and alterations to my home and even built a Brand New 2700 square feet 1st & 2nd story Addition to my house from ground up, Footings, Re bars, slab, framing, electrical, plumbing, H vac the whole shebang as Owner Builder. 
Kudos to the Inspector I had. He put down his clip board for my Footings inspection, rolled up his sleeves, hopped in the trench and showed me how to do them right( re bars can not touch dirt/grade at the bottom, rust issues) and when I completed the change I called for another Footing & Rebar Inspection and passed. Dang the Inspector taught Plumbing at the Local City College so he had me cut out my 2nd story sewer plumbing and re-do them all(costly but great experience--do it right). Love this Inspector, very helpful and excellent customer friendly. After all their job is Not to Fail You BUT to make sure You are SAFE and whoever else buys your house down the road.

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By Alex in Falls Church, VA on 1/30/2019


An owner-builder is exempt from licensure,but there are limitations.

A license is not required if :

  • -The owner-builder does the work himself or herself or through his or her own employees with wages as their sole compensation and the structure(s) is/are not intended for sale.
  • -The owner-builder contracts with properly licensed subcontractor(s).
    (This exemption applies to the construction of a single-family residential structure and limits the number of structures intended or offered for sale to four or fewer in a calendar year.)
  • -The owner-builder contracts with a General Building ("B") contractor. (The number of structures is then unlimited.)

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By Roger in Beverly Hills, CA on 2/19/2019


The license was well worth it because it allows me to set up accounts at suppliers and negotiate better prices.
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By Roger in Beverly Hills, CA on 3/28/2019


If you wish to do electrical, plumbing, or HVAC work, you either subcontract this out to a master or you demonstrate that you have a master on your staff. It is that easy.
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By Roger in Beverly Hills, CA on 6/8/2019


You can contact other members directly in your region by using Owner-Builder Connections - this way you can contact people in your region and potentially identify regional sources of financing.

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