Is contractors license required for rehab?

17 Replies

Hi there.
I can't seem to find a good answer for this, so it's time to ask the BP community. I was wondering if a contractors license is necessary for me to rehab my own, vacant property in Omaha Nebraska? I would not be living there as it would be for a rental. In the law I found that it says even owners not living in the property must have a contractors license to perform the work themselves. However, I will not be doing the work myself, I will be having licensed insured and bonded subs doing the work for me.

If you have any experience with this and Nebraska, please share.

Thank you!

In TX there is a licensing website which indicates which trades must be licensed.

If Nebraska indicates general contractors must be licensed, then you must have a license.

I would call your local permit office for clarification.

Just the rule of thumb, you are not doing the work yourself, and you are hiring licensed contractors, then have them pull permits. Ask your contractor state board as to specific, look for consumer department to help you.

You should seek out a business attorney located in your state to discuss the licensing requirements of your state, as well as how the definitions may apply to your particular business.

Thanks for the responses. That's what I was thinking too @Lance A White . I'm going to be rehabbing a home in the near future and wanted to handle the subs myself as my partner and I have some experience and knowledge regarding working in homes.

Originally posted by @Kyle Godbout :

Thanks for the responses. That's what I was thinking too Lance A White. I'm going to be rehabbing a home in the near future and wanted to handle the subs myself as my partner and I have some experience and knowledge regarding working in homes.

 I believe you can even do some of the work yourself as long as you get it inspected as you go. The problem may be getting inspectors to call you back if you are not licensed.

I don't even bother calling inspectors anymore, I let my licensed contractors do that. They know the inspectors and get a quicker response.

Move in until the project is done , then move out .   if anybody questions the sparse furniture , tell them your wife kicked you out .

Call the local city managers office they should help.  

Here in SC and NC they differ a bit on answers of what is needed. Found out the hard way though usually best to always pull or get the proper Permits pulled.

Alex

Originally posted by @Lance A White :
Originally posted by @Kyle Godbout:

Thanks for the responses. That's what I was thinking too Lance A White. I'm going to be rehabbing a home in the near future and wanted to handle the subs myself as my partner and I have some experience and knowledge regarding working in homes.

 I believe you can even do some of the work yourself as long as you get it inspected as you go. The problem may be getting inspectors to call you back if you are not licensed.

I don't even bother calling inspectors anymore, I let my licensed contractors do that. They know the inspectors and get a quicker response.

 @kyle, some states allow work on a house if you plan to live there for the next 1 year, but if you have the intent to sell it, most states don't allow ANY work done by yourself. Double check on your state contractor board.

In MN  you need to have a license to pull permits. If you are doing work/rehabs and not pulling permits you are entering in to a situation I would not want to be in. I am a licensed Realtor but all my work is for myself now. I used to work with buyers and sellers. 

If I had a client that bought a house. First of all I want a full list and disclosure of the work that was done. On the disclosure the seller must state whether or not work was done and if permits were pulled. All work on non-owner occ properties must have permits pulled in MN. If permits were not pulled I am requiring the seller pay for permits to be pulled to verify the work was done correctly.

If for some reason we found this out after the closing and there were issues with the home the seller is now open to an court case or arbitration. In MN there is no way an arbitration panel or judge would ever side on the side of the seller. We are a very consumer protected state.

I would say if it is permit type work, pull the permits. Buyers will appreciate it and it adds a level of professionalism to your business.

Correction - In MN, when it comes to rehabbing your residential properties, you are only required to have a license for mech'l, elec'l, and plumbing work.  All other permits can be pulled by the property owner.  When you do commercial in MN, anyone can pull the permit.

I'm clarifying this only because it is a strategy for controlling cost.  I prefer to act as the general and write sub-contracts to all subcontractors directly.  It's an advanced strategy and should only be used if you have management experience and know how to control risk.  The point is that MN allows a nonresident owner of a property to obtain permits to perform building permit related work. They cannot obtain permits for plumbing, electrical, and mechanical work.  You have to check with your state to see if it's the same.

If used correctly, it can save mark-up and OH cost and reduce the amount of change orders, which directly affects your bottom line.  If used incorrectly, it could cost you a fortune.

Be very clear on who pulls the permits.  It doesn't matter if the contractor or owner pulls the permits for the project.  Ask for a copy of the permits prior to them starting the work.  Some permits require inspections by the building dept.  Contractors can put this responsibility on the owner. 

With regard to a rehab, is a permit required if you are not doing anything structural?  For example, new cabinets, new flooring, painting, new fixtures, etc.  I think as long as you are not altering the structure then a permit is probably not required.  I know in the town where our apartment building is, the above doesn't require a permit, but if I was going to replace windows, then a permit would be required.

Also, our electrician told me that licensing is not required to perform any work that isn't going to be closed up behind a wall.  For example, changing a light fixture or a sink faucet.  I didn't look into it any further, but I would assume that my licensed electrician knows the licensing requirements.  Licensing is also not required for work on your primary residence, but you are still subject to permit and inspection requirements.