Are you starting a construction business in North Carolina or planning on working on a big project as a contractor?
Before you get started, make sure you are in compliance with North Carolina general contractor license requirements. You'll need a license for any project that costs $30,000 or more.
Navigating the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors isn’t exactly easy. You’ll need to understand the licensing requirements, which type of license to apply for and how the process works.
In this article, we'll cover those topics and ways to protect yourself with business insurance.
If you plan to work in other states, you can find more information in our guide to general contractor license requirements in every state.
How to become a contractor in North Carolina
Not everyone who wants to become a contractor in North Carolina needs a license. But if you plan to complete projects worth more than $30,000, you’ll need to get one. Having a license can also help you get clients because it shows them that you have taken the effort to meet the professional standards for your trade.
The NC general contractor license process includes the following steps:
- Fill out an application.
- Pass an exam.
- Undergo a review of your finances.
- Pass a background check.
The entire process can take 30 days, or more, especially if you need to study before taking the exam.
NC general contractor license requirements
To receive a general contractor license in NC, you must meet the following requirements:
- Age: You must be at least 18 years old.
- Good moral character: You’ll answer questions about your background.
- Business registration: You must be legally registered to conduct business in North Carolina.
- Examination: You must pass the National Accredited Building Examination given by the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies (NASCLA). You may be required to pass several exams, depending on which license classification you are applying for.
- Financial requirements: You must have the finances available to back up projects of $30,0000 or higher in case you run into an issue delivering the services in your contract. How much you need in the bank depends on the type of license you want.
North Carolina general contractor license types
North Carolina has several types of contractor licenses that are categorized by how much the project will cost and the type of work.
General contractor license limits
Different general contractor licenses in North Carolina have limits on the value of projects that you can work on. Your eligibility for each license limit depends on your finances. If you don’t have enough capital, you can take out a surety bond instead.
General contractor license classifications
License limits dictate the size of projects you can take on, while license classifications determine what type of work you can do.
To qualify for a license classification, you must pass an exam. If you want to obtain more than one license classification, you must pass each test and fill out a separate application.
General contractor license classifications in North Carolina include:
- Building: Construction and demolition for commercial, industrial, institutional and residential structures
- Residential: Construction and demolition of residential structures and individual units
- Highway: Grading and paving public roads; construction of guard rails, sidewalks, gutters and other highway projects
- Public utilities: Construction of water and sewage systems, swimming pools, fuel lines and power lines
- Specialty: Includes public utility projects, along with wind turbines, roofing, railroads and marine facilities
- Unclassified: Includes all of the above classifications
How to get a general contractor license NC
To get the licensing process started, you'll fill out an application (available online). Once you apply, the licensing board will send you instructions on how to enroll for the right exams, depending on what kind of license or licenses you want.
Once you find the right exams, you’ll sign up, take the test(s) and wait for your results. If you pass, your application will be reviewed by the board and, if approved, you’ll receive your license.
How long does it take to get a general contractor license?
Obtaining your general contractor license in North Carolina typically takes at least 30 days. This timeline includes about two weeks to process your application and time for the board to approve your license, which they do in batches twice per month.
Plan on the process taking longer if you need time to study for your exam or if you don’t schedule it immediately after your application is processed.
Although most people fill out an application before taking an exam, you can minimize the time it takes to receive your license by submitting your application with a completed exam. Further, you can accelerate your studies by taking an NC general contractor license exam prep course.
NC general contractor license renewal
If it's time for your NC general contractor license renewal, you can renew your existing license online through the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors website. The process involves submitting your financial statements and verifying employment.
Insurance requirements for North Carolina general contractors
While there is no insurance requirement to obtain a general contractor license in North Carolina, many projects and building permits ask contractors to have business insurance — typically general liability and workers’ compensation coverage. If you work with subcontractors, you can also benefit from having active coverage.
Workers’ Compensation insurance in North Carolina
Workers’ comp isn’t required for an NC general contractor license specifically, but state law requires this coverage for corporations, sole proprietorships, partnerships and limited liability companies with three or more employees.
General Liability insurance for North Carolina contractors
General liability insurance for contractors protects your business from expenses related to common mistakes or accidents, including property damage and customer injury. You can add tools and equipment insurance to protect your gear for damage and theft.
Commercial Auto insurance for NC general contractors
Commercial auto insurance protects your construction vehicles, drivers and equipment while driving for business purposes. In North Carolina, most insurance companies determine the cost of a policy based on driver experience, vehicle condition, route hazards and vehicle usage. You can add hired and non-owned coverage if you occasionally rent vehicles or use employee vehicles for business purposes.
How Next Insurance supports North Carolina general contractors
If you’re working on getting your general contractor license, now’s an ideal time to learn how to best protect your construction business.
Next Insurance’s seamless process can help you get the general contractor insurance you need and a certificate of insurance in as little as 10 minutes. And if you have questions, our team of licensed, U.S.-based Next Insurance advisors can help.
Do you have projects in a different U.S. state? Visit our summary of general contractor license requirements in every state.