The Full South Carolina Contractor License Guide [2020 Update]
Contractors in South Carolina have to pass a rigorous administrative procedure before launching operations. If you’re planning to start a construction business in the state, you need to obtain a South Carolina contractor license that ensures your legal compliance.
The licensing authority is the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (SCLLR). It offers two main types of licenses, handled by two different boards:
- General and mechanical contractor license
- Residential builder and specialty contractor license
In order to obtain your license, you have to fulfill a set of state requirements. They include proving the necessary experience, completing an exam, and posting a surety bond, among others.
In this guide, you can get acquainted with the licensing procedure, so that you can launch your business endeavor smoothly.
The South Carolina Contractors License Requirements
The South Carolina Contractor’s Licensing Board (SCCLB) issues general and mechanical contractor licenses. They are required for executing commercial, industrial and residential projects. There are different SC general contractor license and mechanical license classifications that you have to choose from, depending on your exact activities.
If you need a SC residential builders license or specialty contractor license, the licensing body is the Residential Builders Commission (SCRBC). There are 13 different specialty classifications. The residential builder and 4 classifications (building, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC) require a license, while the other 9 classifications need a registration.
The licensing requirements are similar for most classifications and are outlined below, together with specific criteria when there are such.
Business Entity Registration
Before you can apply for a license as a South Carolina contractor, you need to register your business entity. The registration is with the Secretary of State.
You also have to get a tax registration with the state Department of Revenue.
Proof of Experience and State Exam
For most license types, you have to showcase your relevant experience. You need to provide certifications and letters of reference. The exact requirements vary for the different classifications.
In addition, you have to pass a state examination. If you need a general or mechanical license, you need to complete the exam with the PSI before you apply. Applicants for a SC residential contractors license and 4 of the 13 specialty licenses (building, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC) also have to pass an exam, but only after their initial application has been approved.
Complete the South Carolina Contractor License Application
Besides fulfilling the above-mentioned criteria, you have to complete an application form from the Board that you’re applying with:
- General and mechanical contractor license application
- Residential builder and specialty contractor license applications (different forms per license classification)
When you’re ready, mail your documents to:
South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
P.O. Box 11329
Columbia, S.C. 29211
License and Registration Fees
Together with your application submission, you need to cover the relevant license and registration fees:
- General and mechanical contractor license – $350 for a full licensing period or $175 if there are less than 12 months left from it
- Residential builder and 4 types of specialty contractor license (building, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC) – $100 application fee; $160 licensing fee for a full licensing period or $80 if there are less than 12 months left from it
- 9 types of specialty contractor registration – $100 registration fee for a full period or $50 if there are less than 12 months left from it
Provide a Surety Bond and Insurance
In addition to meeting the requirements listed above and filling in the application, you also have to obtain proper insurance and bonding.
Worker’s Compensation Insurance
You may need to obtain worker’s compensation insurance if you will hire employees for your business.
One of the indispensable requirements that you have to meet is to post a South Carolina contractor license bond. The amounts vary depending on the license type and classification.
General and mechanical contractors need to provide a surety bond in an amount that is twice the minimum net worth requirement, if they don’t meet the net worth limit. The exact amount that you have to provide depends on the specific bid or job. The range for general contractors is between $40,000 and $500,000, while for mechanical contractors, it is between $7,000 and $400,000.
As for residential builder and specialty contractors, the bond amounts are:
- $15,000 – residential builders
- $10,000 – specialty contractors that need a license
- $5,000 – specialty contractors that need a registration
The price that you have to pay to get bonded is a small percentage of the required amount. It is based on the strength of your finances. In case your overall profile is strong, your bond premium can be between 0.75% and 5%.
The main factors that affect your bond cost include your personal credit score, business financials, as well as any fixed and liquid assets you can demonstrate in your application. The surety you apply with assesses the risk level of your candidature and thus determines your premium.
Want to check the exact price of your South Carolina contractor license bond? Fill in the short form below!
License Renewal and Expiration
Your SC contractor license or registration is active for a fixed period of time. You have to undergo the South Carolina contractor license renewal if you want to continue your operations.
The licensing for general contractors ends on October 31 of every even-numbered year, while for mechanical contractors, the end date is October 31 of every odd-numbered year.
Do you have more questions about the South Carolina contractor license and bonding? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at 877.514.5146.
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