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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    737

    Default Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    Our local Home Builder Association is working on tightening up handyman licensing in our city. Currently our state allows handymen to have a business license with no requirement of insurance or bonding. They are limited to jobs under $10,000. Our city (Anchorage), does not allow handymen to work at all.

    Our problem is, we have tons of unlicensed contractors (handymen) here. Our city tends to look the other way since so many politicians own rental property that needs to be maintained in an inexpensive (handyman) way.

    We are interested in finding out what other states and cities do on licensing and limiting handymen.
    Some of the ideas we've had are:
    1. require name, phone and address on all handymen vehicles.
    2. require g/l insurance of $100,000 minimum.

    We are getting really frustrated with all the handymen parked at Home Depot with their disability license plates working for cash and not paying taxes. The disability parking area at Home Depot is always full! We are also getting frustrated with the HO's that hire the handymen because they are cheaper. Then when the handyman messes up the HO's home, they call the state to complain about the "contractor" messing up their house.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    woodstock GA
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    5,795

    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    in north carolina, there is no difference. 30,000 and up you need a licence. plumbing and electrical you need a license no dollar min .

    calif 500 max per job otherwise you need a license no matter handyman or other.
    Kreg
    www.builtinking.com
    youtube channel: builtinsbykreg
    if you do not have fun every day... why?
    get up.... get out there..... get going ! rocking all day long
    remember to give out 10 business cards a day !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    139

    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    IN maryland even a repair at a home requires MHIC license.

    required for MHIC
    100,000 G/l ins
    Financial solvency
    Pass the contractors exam (no tape measure needed) open book 55 questions pertaining to contract law mostly

    Mutiple Rental propertys do NOT require MHIC licensing
    more here http://www.dllr.state.md.us/license/...capply.htm#req

    http://your4state.com/content/fulltext/?cid=11116
    Last edited by official1jg; 01-16-2008 at 02:28 PM. Reason: added link

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington
    Posts
    13,029

    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    As far as I can tell, WA licensing reqs apply to anyone working on a property, whether you are changing a lightbulb or building a mansion. I know one handyman here, he is licensed and insured just like I am.

    The problem is not with licensing, it is with HOs who want to hire cheap and uncomplicated. The only answer I have is to go after jobs that require a more sophisticated outfit. I cannot compete with the cash guys doing quick and dirty repairs and "remodels". My clients are, by definition, people who need more capability than that and know it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Watertown, NY (NorthernNY)
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    1,111

    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    Quote Originally Posted by David Meiland View Post
    A
    The problem is not with licensing, it is with HOs who want to hire cheap and uncomplicated. The only answer I have is to go after jobs that require a more sophisticated outfit. I cannot compete with the cash guys doing quick and dirty repairs and "remodels". My clients are, by definition, people who need more capability than that and know it.
    I agree with that.

    In NY there is no state wide regulation. In our county only our fair city requires licensing of any kind and then it's only for plumbing and heating work. HO's can do their own plumbing, not sure about the heating.

    The city has been issuing maintainence and repair permits lately. No fee, no inspection, no real reason to issue a permit. A building permit is required for new construction and structual repairs.

    There will always be an underground layer of business to compete with. More regulation will not erase them. They will survive because there is a demand for them.

    Good Luck
    Dave

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Upstream
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    10,012

    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    In Colorado, electricians and plumbers are licensed by the state. Remarkably, no state licensing for General Contractors, so obviously your average handyman can easily fly under any building department radar. Pulling a permit is another story. Most if not all jurisdictions require updated GL certificates on file before permits are issued, but it's very easy to perform kitchen and bath remodels and finish basements here without pulling a permit. I won't, but it can be done.
    Richie Poor

    See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, value engineer your unit prices.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Vancouver Island BC Canada
    Posts
    887

    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    I guess the one question is : what is the difference between a handyman and a contractor and who makes that distinction.
    I am a one man show that does renovations. Nowhere does it say or do I say that I am a contractor. I work for people. I am hired help. Period.
    I really don't care if someone calls me a contractor or a handyman as long as I'm paid my hourly rate. Depending on the circumstances I actually tell the person that they are the contractor and I just work for them. If they feel a building permit is needed, they get it.
    Similar to Dave I don't compete with anyone. I don't care what they charge. I only care what I charge and that is always T&M.
    I would think if you are going to have rules it is best to define what a contractor/handyman is. To me, it looks like they are both the same thing except for maybe size. As far as ability and quality, a name doesn't guarantee anything

    roger

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Meadow Vista, CA
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    2,148

    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    You might get more results if your HBA worked with the local TV stations to do some reports on substandard work done by handymen. Consumer protection is always a good story. I see them all the time down here. The story always ends with the warning "make sure your contractor is licensed. Call this number...".

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
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    737

    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    Mark G,
    I think you are right - educating the public is the way to go. We do radio advertising every spring, maybe we need to be looking at a tv spot for the advantages of hiring a licensed contractor. We don't want any more regulations since the current ones aren't enforced anyway.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Southwestern Vermont
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    1,972

    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    Vermont - no licensing requirement, no insurance requirement, no permits required in many cases other than to give the tax assessors office a heads up to bump your valuation. Don't matter if you're building a garage, a $3m ski house or just replacing the front steps and railings for granny.

    Things are a little tighter on the electrical and plumbing side - but not much.

    -Norm

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    9,252

    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    Stacey - I think the handyman license in AK is quite rare in most states. Especially for the $10K and below.

    From my experience people will hire unlicensed people no matter what the state does.

    I think Mark has the best idea - public awareness along with education of the public. Legislation is the weakest link in gaining progress. You and I know how much work is done in Anchorage by unlicensed and unpermitted jobs. Heck, I've tried several time to permit jobs that exceeded the legal dollar amount, I was told I did not need it - so they went unpermitted. I heard that they are especially cracking down on these value jobs in lieu of declining permits.

    I still remember growing up in AZ. Almost every contractor had a bumper sticker on it that said "Licensed Contractors build Confidence". I believe that was a home builders effort to get the message out about licensing and I think it worked to an extent - along with those 10 o'clock investigations of unlicensed guys getting a $100 fine on TV... :)
    “Racism is man's gravest threat to man - the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.”
    Abraham J. Heschel (Jewish theologian and philosopher, 1907-1972)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    In Tn. anything under 25,000.00 is handyman, & need a licence, not as hard to get as a GC though.
    Anything under 3000.00 no license.

    Mike

  13. #13
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    Brooklyn, Fire Island
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    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    Home Improvements is Home improvements, here. Anything over 600 needs a license.
    Francois


    Truth is just one man's explanation for what he thinks he understands. (Walter Mosley)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    Martinez, California
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    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    California wrestled long and hard with this problem. The B&P Code exempts all work under $500, a few years ago they passed §7159.10, §7159 (the section which deals with home improvements) says in the beginning:
    Requirements for home improvement contracts
    (a)(1) This section identifies the projects for which a home improvement contract is required, outlines the contract requirements, and lists the items that shall be included in the contract, or may be provided as an attachment.
    (2) This section does not apply to service and repair contracts that are subject to Section 7159.10, provided the contract for the applicable services complies with Sections 7159.10 to 7159.14, inclusive.
    Quote Originally Posted by B&P Code 7159.10
    §7159.10. Service and repair contract defined
    (a)(1) “Service and repair contract” means an agreement between a contractor or salesperson for a contractor, whether a general contractor or a specialty contractor, who is licensed or subject to be licensed pursuant to this chapter with regard to the transaction, and a homeowner or a tenant, for the performance of a home improvement as defined in Section 7151, that conforms to the following requirements:
    (A) The contract amount is seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) or less.
    (B) The prospective buyer initiated contact with the contractor to request the work.
    (C) The contractor does not sell the buyer goods or services beyond those reasonably necessary to take care of the particular problem that caused the buyer to contact the contractor.
    (D) No payment is due, or accepted by the contractor, until the work is completed.
    (2) As used in this subdivision, “the work is completed” means that all of the conditions that caused the buyer to contact the contractor for service and repairs have been fully corrected and, if applicable, the building department has accepted and approved the corrective work.
    (b) For any contract written pursuant to subdivision (a) or otherwise presented to the buyer as a service and repair contract, unless all of the conforming requirements for service and repair contracts specified in subdivision (a) are met, the contract requirements for home improvements set forth in subdivisions (c), (d), and (e) of Section 7159 shall be applicable, including any rights to rescind the contract as set forth in Section 1689.6 or 1689.7 of the Civil Code, regardless of the aggregate contract price.
    (c) If all of the requirements of subdivision (a) are met, only those notices and other requirements set forth in this section are applicable to the contract.
    (d) Every service and repair contract described in subdivision (a) shall include, or otherwise comply with, all of the following:
    (1) The contract, any changes to the contract, and any attachments shall be in writing and signed or acknowledged by the parties as set forth in this section, and shall be written in the same language (for example Spanish) as principally used in the oral sales presentation.
    (2) The writing shall be legible.
    (3) Any printed form shall be readable. Unless a larger typeface is specified in this article, the text shall be in at least 10-point typeface and the headings shall be in at least 10-point boldface type.
    (4) Before any work is started, the contractor shall give the buyer a copy of the contract signed and dated by the buyer and by the contractor or the contractor’s representative.
    (5) The name, business address, and license number of the contractor.
    (6) The date the contract was signed.
    (7) A notice concerning commercial general liability insurance. This notice may be provided as an attachment to the contract if the contract includes the statement, “A notice concerning commercial general liability insurance is attached to this contract.” The notice shall include the heading “Commercial General Liability Insurance (CGL)” followed by whichever of the following statements is both relevant and correct:
    (A) “(The name on the license or ‘This contractor’) does not carry commercial general liability insurance.”
    (B) “(The name on the license or ‘This contractor’) carries commercial general liability insurance written by (the insurance company). You may call the (insurance company) at to check the contractor’s insurance coverage.”
    (C) “(The name on the license or ‘This contractor’) is self-insured.”
    (8) A notice concerning workers’ compensation insurance. This notice may be provided as an attachment to the contract if the contract includes the statement “A notice concerning workers’ compensation insurance is attached to this contract.” The notice shall include the heading “Workers’ Compensation Insurance” followed by whichever of the following statements is both relevant and correct:
    (A) “(The name on the license or ‘This contractor’) has no employees and is exempt from workers’ compensation requirements.”
    (B) “(The name on the license or ‘This contractor’) carries workers’ compensation insurance for all employees.”
    (e) Every service and repair contract described in subdivision (a) shall provide the following information, notices, and disclosures in the contract:
    (1) Notice of the type of contract in at least 10-point boldface type: “Service and Repair.”
    (2) A notice in at least 12-point boldface type, signed and dated by the buyer: “Notice to the Buyer: The law requires that service and repair contracts must meet all of the following requirements:
    (A) The price must be no more than seven hundred and fifty dollars ($750).
    (B) You, the buyer, must have initiated contact with the contractor to request the work.
    (C) The contractor must not sell you goods or services beyond those reasonably necessary to take care of the particular problem that caused you to contact the contractor.
    (D) No payment is due and the contractor may not accept any payment until the work is completed.”
    (3) The notice in at least 12-point boldface type: “Notice to the Buyer: You are entitled to a completely filled in and signed copy of this agreement before any work may be started.”
    (4) If applicable, the heading “List of Documents to be Incorporated into the Contract,” followed by the list of documents to be incorporated into the contract.
    (5) Where the contract is a fixed contract amount, the heading: “Contract Price” followed by the amount of the contract in dollars and cents.
    (6) If a finance charge will be charged, the heading: “Finance Charge” followed by the amount in dollars and cents. The finance charge is to be set out separately from the contract amount.
    Continued:
    “‎A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body.” ― John Stuart Mill

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Martinez, California
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    14,686

    Default Re: Contractor vs. Handyman Licensing in YOUR State

    Continued:
    Quote Originally Posted by B&P Code 7159.10
    (7) Where the contract is estimated by a time and materials formula, the heading “Estimated Contract Price” followed by the estimated contract amount in dollars and cents. The contract must disclose the set rate and the estimated cost of materials. The contract must also disclose how time will be computed, for example, in increments of quarter hours, half hours, or hours, and the statement: “The actual contract amount of a time and materials contract may not exceed the estimated contract amount without written authorization from the buyer.”
    (8) The heading: “Description of the Project and Materials to be Used and Equipment to be Installed” followed by a description of the project and materials to be used and equipment to be installed.
    (9) The statement: “The law requires that the contractor offer you any parts that were replaced during the service call. If you do not want the parts, initial the checkbox labeled ‘OK for contractor to take replaced parts.’ ”
    (10) A checkbox labeled “OK for contractor to take replaced parts.”
    (11) If a service charge is charged, the heading “Amount of Service Charge” followed by the service charge, and the statement “You may be charged only one service charge, including any trip charge or inspection fee.”
    (12)(A) The contract, or an attachment to the contract as specified under subparagraph (C) of this paragraph, must include, in immediate proximity to the space reserved for the buyer’s signature, the following statement, in a size equal at least to 12-point boldface type, which shall be dated and signed by the buyer:
    “YOUR RIGHTS TO CANCEL BEFORE WORK BEGINS
    (A) You, the buyer, have the right to cancel this contract until:
    1. You receive a copy of this contract signed and dated by you and the contractor; and
    2. The contractor starts work.
    (B) However, even if the work has begun you, the buyer, may still cancel the contract for any of the reasons specified in items 1 through 4 of this paragraph. If any of these reasons occur, you may cancel the contract within three business days of signing the contract for normal service and repairs, or within seven business days of signing a contract to repair or correct conditions resulting from any sudden or catastrophic event for which a state of emergency has been declared by the President of the United States or the Governor, or for which a local emergency has been declared by the executive officer or governing body of any city, county, or city and county:
    1. You may cancel the contract if the price, including all labor and materials, is more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750).
    2. You may cancel the contract if you did not initiate the contact with the contractor to request the work.
    3. You may cancel the contract if the contractor sold you goods or services beyond those reasonably necessary to take care of the particular problem that caused you to contact the contractor.
    4. You may cancel the contract if the payment was due or the contractor accepted any money before the work was complete.
    (C) If any of these reasons for canceling occurred, you may cancel the contract as specified under paragraph (B) above by e-mailing, mailing, faxing, or delivering a written notice to the contractor at the contractor’s place of business within three business days or, if applicable, seven business days of the date you received a signed and dated copy of this contract. Include your name, your address, and the date you received a signed copy of the contract and this notice.
    If you cancel, the contractor must return to you anything you paid within 10 days of receiving the notice of cancellation. For your part, you must make available to the contractor at your residence, in substantially as good condition as you received it, any goods delivered to you under this contract. Or, you may, if you wish, comply with the contractor’s instructions on how to return the goods at the contractor’s expense and risk. If you make the goods available to the contractor and the contractor does not pick them up within 20 days of the date of your notice of cancellation, you may keep them without any further obligation. If you fail to make the goods available to the contractor, or if you agree to return the goods to the contractor and fail to do so, then you remain liable for performance of all obligations under the contract.”
    (B) This paragraph does not apply to home improvement contracts entered into by a person who holds an alarm company operator’s license issued pursuant to Chapter 11.6 (commencing with Section 7590), provided the person complies with Sections 1689.5, 1689.6, and 1689.7 of the Civil Code, as applicable.
    (C) The notice required in this paragraph may be incorporated as an attachment to the contract if the contract includes a checkbox and whichever statement is relevant in at least 12-point boldface type:
    (i) “The law requires that the contractor give you a notice explaining your right to cancel. Initial the checkbox if the contractor has given you a ‘Notice of Your Right to Cancel.’ ”
    (ii) “The law requires that the contractor give you a notice explaining your right to cancel contracts for the repair or restoration of residential premises damaged by a disaster. Initial the checkbox if the contractor has given you a ‘Notice of Your Right to Cancel.’ ”
    (f) A bona fide service repairperson employed by a licensed contractor or subcontractor hired by a licensed contractor may enter into a service and repair contract on behalf of that contractor.
    (g) The provisions of this section are not exclusive and do not relieve the contractor from compliance with any other applicable provision of law.
    Added Stats 2004 ch 566 § 10 (SB 30), operative July 1, 2005. Amended Stats 2005 ch 48 § 13 (SB 1113), effective July 18, 2005, operative January 1, 2006, ch 385 § 6 (AB 316).
    I haven't looked into it because I've never dealt with complaints that small, but it appears you don't need a license under $500, need a Service and repair license between $500 and $750, and a B license thereafter, kinda dumb!
    “‎A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body.” ― John Stuart Mill

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