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How to become a licensed contractor in Tennessee

Aug 24, 2023 · 5 minutes to read

If you’re considering a career as a general contractor in Tennessee, you’re stepping into a world filled with opportunities for growth and success. But, as with any professional path, understanding your landscape is essential.

Skilled contractor

Tennessee’s contractor licensing process is designed to accommodate different scales and types of projects. Understanding Tennessee’s contractor licensing requirements isn’t just about legal compliance; it’s also about maintaining a solid reputation. Not only will you stay on the right side of the law, but clients will also see you as a beacon of professionalism and trust.

Which general contractor licenses should you get in Tennessee?

Tennessee offers different general contractor licenses based on the value and nature of the project. Understanding the various licenses available is essential for any contractor looking to operate legally in the state. Here’s a breakdown:

1. Smaller Projects (Under $25,000)

Home improvement contractor: This license is for anyone considering home improvement projects within the range of $3,000-$24,999 in Tennessee. So, if you’re looking to take on home repairs, improvements or remodeling, Tennessee requires a license even for these smaller undertakings. This license does not permit plumbing, electrical, or HVAC work.

Limited Licensed Electrical (LLE): Designed for electrical projects that don’t require an inspection.

Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP): Similar to LLE, this license allows for plumbing work that doesn’t need inspection.

2. Larger Scale Projects (Over $25,000)

Prime Contractor: Suitable for contractors planning on full-scale residential, commercial, or industrial builds, this license lets you work directly with project owners on jobs exceeding $25,000.

Subcontractor: This license allows specialists to work with primary contractors on plumbing, HVAC, roofing, electrical, and mechanical projects worth $25,000 or more. For masonry projects, this license allows specialty contractors to work on projects with a value of $100,000 or more.

Construction Management: Construction managers overseeing projects worth $25,000 or more require both a specific contractor’s license and an additional construction management license.

Your license’s monetary limits in Tennessee are set at ten times your working capital or net worth. That means if you have a net worth of $10,000, your license will restrict you from bidding on projects over $100,000. Ensure you understand these financial constraints to avoid legal complications down the road.

A step-by-step to getting a contractor license in Tennessee

If you’re looking to launch your contracting business in Tennessee, here’s a breakdown of what to do:

1. Choosing the right license

Depending on the cost and nature of the projects you wish to undertake, you will either need a:

  • General contractor license for projects between $3,000 and $25,000.
  • Prime contractor license for projects exceeding $25,000.

2. Passing the required examinations

To become a contractor in Tennessee, you’ll be required to clear the Tennessee Business and Law exam. Moreover, specialty contractors, such as plumbers and electricians, may need to pass additional trade-specific exams.

3. Preparing a financial statement

If you’re applying for a general contractor license, the state of Tennessee mandates you present a comprehensive financial statement. Your financial statement should be:

  • outlined with the monetary limits of your intended projects
  • reviewed by an authorized CPA or LPA for projects up to $1,500,000.
  • audited for projects that surpass the $1,500,000 threshold.

4. Reference letter and proof of insurance

In your license registration, you will have to include a credible reference letter from a past client, employer, or a code official who has inspected your work.

Besides this, you’ll also need to provide insurance details, including:

After gathering these documents, you can finalize your application. Ensure everything is accurate, then submit and wait for approval. Generally, this process takes between 4 to 6 weeks.

BizInsure: Your insurance partner on your journey to becoming a general contractor

Thriving as a general contractor in Tennessee is more than just the skills and experience you bring. It’s about ensuring that every foundation, be it literal or administrative, is fortified. By arming yourself with a clear understanding of the licensing landscape, you’re setting yourself up for success in terms of legal compliance and building trust with your clients.

Laying the groundwork for your contracting business in Tennessee is a meticulous process. And choosing the right insurance should be treated with the same level of precision.

Fortunately, BizInsure offers a streamlined experience to make this task less overwhelming. Within minutes, you can browse and compare quotes from top US insurers, ensuring that you’re well-prepared for the road ahead.

Take the first step with BizInsure, and explore contractor insurance in Tennessee tailored for businesses like yours.

As with any insurance, coverage will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. The information contained on this guide is general only and should not be relied upon as advice. The number of quotes provided varies between products, occupations and other underwriting factors determined by the insurers.
This information is a general guide only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Always check with your local licensing board when getting or renewing your contractor license to ensure you are meeting their current licensing requirements.
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