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How to start a carpentry business

Jan 31, 2022 · 5 minutes to read

A carpenter works with carpentry tools

Small business ideas don’t have to be big or unique. Trade services are often in demand, as many homeowners are unable or unwilling to take on home repairs and maintenance themselves. Carpentry is one such service that you may be able to provide to customers in your area.

If you’re a carpenter who is ready to strike out on your own, starting a carpentry business is the way to do this. However, before bringing any small business idea to life, you should consider all aspects of the local market and the steps required to open your own business.

The Pros and Cons of Being a Carpenter

Every carpenter has their own reasons for choosing this profession. This may be because they learned the skills from a parent or grandparent, they fell in love with woodworking in a high school class, or they just always wanted to work with their hands.

There are also very practical reasons to pursue carpentry as a career. The average carpenter’s earned just over $49,000 in 2020, which may be attractive to some. However, it’s also a competitive field. Job growth for carpenters is projected to grow by 2% between 2020 and 2030, which is slower than the average for all occupations in the U.S.

Carpentry labour is physically demanding. It is also a job where accidents might be more common. If you opt to perform carpentry outdoors, you could be exposed to all types of weather, including rain, snow, and extreme temperatures. However, the work you do can be extremely rewarding and many carpentry projects can last or be used by clients for years.

What is the Best Way to Start a Carpentry Business?

Starting any small business takes hard work, time, and dedication. A carpentry business is no different, and you’ll need to consider many things before you can begin your first job.

1. Defining Your Services

Before you can open your business, you need to decide exactly what your business will be. There are many areas of carpentry you can concentrate on, such as:

  • Rough carpentry – beams, rafters, framing, posts, etc.
  • Finish carpentry – decking, flooring, stairs, installing trim and moulding, etc.
  • Cabinet & Furniture making
  • Scenic carpentry – erecting and dismantling scenery for TV, film, and theater
  • Ship’s carpentry – shipbuilding and repair

You may decide to focus on one or two specialties or be more of “jack of all trades” in the carpentry space. The services you provide may also fall under other categories, such as green carpentry, which means you will work with sustainable materials and methods.

2. Setting Up a Workspace

You’ll also have to think about where you’ll work. This may depend on what type(s) of carpentry your business will provide. For example, you’ll most likely work on building sites if you specialize in structural carpentry. However, you may need a workshop or space in your home to complete some work.

Regardless of where you will be working, double-check that the local zoning laws allow you to operate a company on the site you chose. You may not be able to work out of your garage in some neighborhoods or you might need special permits to do so.

3. Training and Tools

You can’t be a carpenter if you don’t have the right tools. Although purchasing supplies to start a carpenter business might be costly, you should make sure you have access to the essentials. Keeping an eye out for used goods on Craigslist and similar websites may help you save money on some tools.

The majority of carpenters hone their craft on the job as an assistant or complete a three-to-four-year apprenticeship. The Home Builders Institute (HBI) provides a popular pre-apprenticeship carpenter training programme that is approved by the Department of Labor. Carpenters must also pass the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 10-hour and 30-hour courses (OSHA).

Before you may work as a carpenter, you may need to obtain a carpenter licence or a contractor’s licence. Licence requirements vary from state to state. It’s advisable to check with your local or state government to make sure you have the proper licenses and training to perform carpentry work in your area.

4. Carpenter Insurance

There are many risks that come with being a carpenter and owning your own business. Accidents are common on building sites and in workshops. This includes client injuries, unintentional damage to a customer’s belongings, and personal workplace injuries, among others.

Protecting yourself and your staff with the proper business insurance could benefit you and your business. Typical carpenter’s insurance policies, such as General Liability and Workers’ Compensation, protect your business against costly claims and lawsuits. Make sure you get a policy that provides the appropriate level of coverage for the size of your company and the activities you specialize in.

Success Strategies for Carpentry Businesses

If you want to be a successful carpenter, there pointers could help you get off on the right foot:

  • Put together a detailed business plan in which you present your business strategy. Your business plan should address issues such as whether you’ll hire staff, where you’ll operate, and what style of carpentry you’ll specialize in, among other things.
  • Choose a memorable business name that explains what your company does to potential consumers.
  • Register your business as a legal entity, such as a sole proprietary, partnership, or limited liability corporation. You’ll need to follow the registration requirements in your particular city and state.
  • Create a marketing plan to reach potential customers. To publicize your new business you might take steps like handing out flyers, placing an ad in the local paper, creating a website, and setting up social media profiles.

It may take some time to really establish your carpentry business, but once you do you could find great success.

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