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Ohio general contractor license and insurance requirements

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By Next Insurance Staff
Oct 21, 2020 min read

If you are considering starting a general contractor's business in Ohio, there are a few things you need to know before you get started. You may need a license from the state or local government, depending on the type of work you plan to do. To get licensed, you'll have to meet a list of requirements, including having minimum levels of experience and business insurance

Not sure where to start? You're in the right place. In this article, you'll find out more about:

  • Different types of Ohio general contractor licenses 
  • Requirements you'll need for each type of Ohio general contractor license
  • Insurance requirements for general contractors in Ohio

If you’re considering working as a general contractor in another state, visit our guide to general contractor license requirements by state.

What are the requirements to have a general contractor license in Ohio?

Ohio doesn't require any special licenses for minor repair work, such as painting or home improvement projects that cost less than $1,000. More extensive projects require a state or local license.

State license requirements

If you are interested in becoming a general contractor who works on commercial construction projects involving HVAC, electrical, plumbing, hydronics or refrigeration, you'll need to get a statewide license issued by the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB).

Those applying for statewide general contractor licenses in Ohio will have to meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal alien with proof of residence
  • Work as a tradesperson for at least five years in the same trade as your application, be a registered engineer in the same trade as your application for at least three years or have equivalent experience that the board would find acceptable
  • Not have been convicted of a crime or other disqualifying offense
  • Pass your trade examination
  • Have proof of at least $500,000 in general contractor liability insurance
  • Pay a $25 application fee

Once your application has been approved, the board will ask you to complete a background check before sitting for the exam. 

Local license requirements

If you won't be working on any specialized trade projects (HVAC, electrical, plumbing, hydronics or refrigeration) and are planning on running a residential or home improvement contractor business, you can apply for a general license at the local level. 

Different municipalities in Ohio have specific requirements for general contractor licenses.

In local jurisdictions, the exact names and types of licenses can vary. In Columbus, for example, general contractors can apply for licenses including:

General contractor: Projects that involve new builds and alterations, modifications and repairs to commercial and multi-family homes.

Home improvement contractor: Projects that involve repairing, modifying, replacing and upgrading residential homes for one to three families. This license also covers work on driveways, swimming pools and garages.

For city or municipality's qualifications, check with the local department of building or housing website.

In general, to get a local general contractor license, Ohio cities require you to:

  • Complete your application
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal alien with proof of residence
  • Prove at least three years of general contractor experience through W-2's, project permits or the license number of contractors you've worked with

There are also more specific requirements by city or local region that you'll have to meet. 

For example, to register as a general contractor in Cleveland, you'll need to meet the general state requirements when you apply, plus the following:

  • Provide proof of liability insurance for a minimum of $200,000
  • If you're applying as a corporation, include your Articles of Incorporation in your application
  • Provide a surety bond for $25,000 with a power-of-attorney form attached
  • Pay a $150 application fee (renewals are $120 per year)

In Columbus, you'll need to meet the general requirements when you apply, and:

  • Pass an exam
  • Provide proof of liability insurance for a minimum of $300,000
  • Get a surety bond for $25,000
  • Pay a $350 application fee

In Cincinnati, you'll need to meet the general requirements when you apply, and:

  • Provide proof of liability insurance that's at least $100,000 in coverage 
  • Have a Certificate of insurance for Ohio workers' compensation coverage
  • Show a list of registered subcontractors you work with on projects
  • Provide proof of business entity forms if you apply as a business, or your Social Security or Tax Identification Number if you apply as an individual
  • Pay a $130 application fee

Common challenges for obtaining a license

Since Ohio has multiple levels of licenses, it can be difficult to figure out which one you need and what's required. It's important you know both the state- and city-wide requirements to make sure you get the correct license type.

How long does it take to get a general contractor license in Ohio?

In general, applications can take from 10 days to a few weeks, depending on when board meetings are scheduled and when you can write your exam. General contractors in Cincinnati can pay an additional $208 in fees to fast track applications for one-day processing.

Insurance requirements for Ohio General Contractors

To get an Ohio general contractor license, general liability insurance is required both statewide and in local areas, as outlined in the requirements above. Some areas, such as Cincinnati, also require workers' compensation insurance. 

Here are a few other types of insurance Ohio general contractors might want to consider.

General liability insurance for Ohio contractors

General liability insurance can help protect your business if there is property damage or any third-party injuries where your business is held responsible. This type of insurance can help pay for medical treatment or repair and replacements costs for property damage.

Commercial auto insurance for general contractors

Business owners will also need commercial auto insurance coverage for business-owned vehicles. It offers protection if you or your employees are involved in an accident and are injured.

How Next Insurance helps Ohio general contractors

Next Insurance has helped thousands of general contractors across the country get the insurance coverage they need. 

The process is simple: you can get an instant quote online and in less than 10 minutes have the coverage you want plus a digital certificate of insurance ready to go on your mobile device or computer.

Start today and get your free instant quote online.

Do you have projects in a different U.S. state? Visit our summary of general contractor license requirements in every state.

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