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Board for Licensing Contractors

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

 

The following questions and answers apply to all professions within the Board (Contractors; Home Improvement; Limited Licensed Electricians; Limited Licensed Plumbers; and Pre-licensed Exam Course Providers). To quickly find the subject, you may enter both "Ctrl F" on your keyboard at the same time; then enter part of the subject to search, such as "Renewal" and this will highlight the section to make it easier to find.

 

Becoming Licensed

Who is required to be licensed?

Is a homeowner permitted to build his/her own house without a license?

Is a company (or owner) permitted to build its own office without a contractor’s license?

Is it legal for a church to construct its building?

How long will it take to process my application?

Disclosures - Felony Conviction/Judgments/Discipline/Complaints

Reciprocal Agreements

Forms and Applications

Emergency License Procedures



Licensing Information


Contractor and Subcontractors

Home Improvement Contractor

Limited Licensed Electrician (LLE)

Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP)

Construction Managers (Contractor)

Pre-Licensed Exam Course Provider

Alarm System Contractors

Fire Protection – Fire Sprinkler Systems

Well Drillers (TDEC)



Examination Information

Are examinations required to obtain a license?

How do I apply for licensing exam?

Are licensing exams available online?

May I sign up online?

May I  take the exam without signing up in advance?

Do I have to be preapproved to take a trade exam prior to registering with PSI?

Can more than one (1) exam be taken in a day?

What is the Cost?

Are cram schools permitted for exam preparation?

List of approved cram schools

I passed my exam, what do I do next?

I am licensed in another state and want to operate in Tennessee. Do you have reciprocity?

I have a Tennessee license and need to apply for a license in another state

Retesting - Are old exam results acceptable? How recent must they be?

Is continuing education required

May the person taking the exam (qualifying agent) be listed or designated on more than one license?

Is the qualifying agent considered the owner of the license?

Renewal / Revisions - Changes in License Status
How do I renew a license?

How far in advance of expiration date should my renewal be completed?

I let my license expire. How do I have it reinstated?

May I retire my license?

How do I reactivate my retired license?

Closing a business; may I change my license to inactive status?

I recently updated my status. Why hasn’t my status changed online?

Disclosures - Felony Conviction/Judgments/Discipline/Complaints

Qualifying Agent Leaves/Changes

Amended / Increase of Monetary Limit for Contractor License

Amended / Classifications added to Contractor License

Mode of Operation Change

Name Change on a License

 

Complaints

How do I file a complaint against a company/individual?

What can the state do if I have a legitimate grievance?

Are there consumer tips for hiring a contractor?

Where can the implied (one-year) warranty law be found?

Criminal Prosecutions

Illegal Liens

Legal Aid

Complaint Procedures

Unlicensed and Anonymous Complaints

 


Change of Address/Other Key Information

Am I required to notify the board if I change my address?

Can I change my information online?

Address Change Request


Miscellaneous - Questions and Answers

How may I check or search if someone is licensed?

Am I required to notify the board if my job status changes?

How can I get the forms I need?

How do I know when and where regulatory boards meet?

Does this board have a newsletter to which I can subscribe?

Is a license required before bidding? How long does it take to get a license?

Is the qualifying agent considered the owner of the license?

Are subcontractors required to be licensed?

Are HVAC contractors regulated by the Board for projects less than $25,000?

May a contractor bid while in the process of obtaining a contractor license?

What if I have a chance to bid a job but my limit is not enough; can I get a special review?

Does the Board accept credit cards online?

Are contractors required to appear for a personal interview order to obtain a license?

What is the deadline date to submit an application for the next scheduled board meeting?

What if I need a license prior to the next Board meeting or missed the deadline?

If my corporation or LLC is in another state, will I need to register in Tennessee?

Are there specific bidding requirements?

If a licensed prime contractor subcontracts to a licensed electrical contractor, may the electrical subcontractor, subcontract to another electrical contractor who is not licensed?

May a contractor bid in another name other than as licensed?

I am a licensed contractor; why haven’t I received a roster?

As a family business, may the parent allow their son or daughter use their license?

How can a contractor get on the State of Tennessee’s list to bid state government contracts?

Do all contractors have to be licensed in order to joint venture?

Can a contractor bid in excess of their monetary limit?

Is there a national association which has information related to contracting regulation for all states?

I have a residential building license; do I need to apply for a new one to perform commercial?

May I transfer my license to another company?

Who is in charge of electrical inspections for the LLE license?

Are fire sprinkler contractors required to be registered in addition to having a contractor license?

Are there separate requirements for Alarm System Contractors?

How can you check the complaint history of a contractor?

Licensed prior to the rule change for municipal utility (MU-B) needing the BC-B (commercial) exam?

What is “spec” building?

Lead abatement requirements

Codes Adoptions

Where may I obtain a list of the contractor license laws and regulations?

Is a state contractor license required to build on federal projects?

Are there special provisions for those in the military?

What is the penalty for bidding without a license?

Insurance Resource

Valuable Resources

Workers' Compensation Insurance

How to download a list of licensees



Becoming Licensed

Who is required to be licensed?

The Board for Licensing Contractors regulates several state license "professions" as follows:

Contractors; Home Improvement Contractors; Limited Licensed Electricians (LLE); Limited Licensed Plumbers (LLP); and Pre-Licensed Exam Course Providers.

 

A “Contractor's” license is required first prior to contracting (bidding, offering to engage, or negotiating a price) for various types of projects $25,000 or more, when acting as one of the following:

 

  • Prime (General) Contractor - Bidding or contracting directly with the “owner” of the project;
  • Subcontractor – Contracting directly with the contractor (not to the owner) to perform projects when the total cost of that portion is *$25,000 or more, for the following (includes all materials, equipment, and labor):
    • Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, HVAC, and **Roofing; and
    • Masonry when *$100,000 and up
  • Construction Management – When the value of the project is $25,000 or more.

 

*Masonry subcontractors must be licensed as a contractor when the project is $100,000 or more.

**Roofing subcontractors must be licensed as a contractor, effective January 1, 2014, in addition to performing work currently as a prime, for projects $25,000 or more.

 

See the website for "Contractors" to obtain more information for projects $25,000 or more.

 

If performing work less than $25,000, see the list below and also check with local government for their permits for inspection requirements. A Tennessee state license is required before bidding, contracting or offering a price. An out-of-state license is not acceptable to perform work in Tennessee, as well as, a Tennessee license would not be acceptable to work in another state. 


The following state licenses and programs are regulated by the Contractor's Board:

Other -Also check Regulatory Boards and Fire Prevention and Local Government and Business information to ensure all appropriate licenses are obtained.

 

Typically, licensing requirements depend on the total dollar amount of the project; type of profession; and county location as to the type of state license required.  If a state license is required, then a Tennessee state license must be obtained first prior to operating (bidding, contracting, or offering to engage to perform work).  The law does not allow using another state's license. The only reciprocal agreement is for the trade exam waiver with various states (this is provided as part of the application instructions).  A local or state "Business" license does not fulfill all license requirements.

 

The definition of contractor is found in the statute at  T.C.A. § 62-6-101, et. al. and covers a very broad area, of all types of contracting by primes, subcontractors, and construction managers (see "Contractor Classifications Outline) which includes construction, installation, movement, repair, etc. for buildings, property, highways, equipment, etc. All contractor's licenses are assigned a monetary limit and also a classification, such as: Building (Residential, Commercial and Industrial); Electrical; Mechanical (Plumbing and HVAC); Heavy Construction; Highway, Railroad & Airport; Masonry; Municipal Utility; Environmental; and Specialties (landscaping, excavation, roofing, cell towers, solar panels, audio visual, etc.,). Examples from the "Contractor Classifications Outlines" of the types of contractors are as follows: Excavation (BC-28); Commercial Building (BC or BC-B); Landscaping (BC-29); S-Solar Panel Installation; S-Telecommunications; S-Audio Visual Equipment; etc.

 

 

 

Contractor's must bid/contract in the exact name as licensed. See more information below in the "Summary of Contractor License Requirements".  See the Law and Rules for legislative updates. 

 



 

Insurance Requirements


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Is a homeowner permitted to build his/her own house without a license?

Yes. A person who owns property is allowed one permit every two years to build their home as long as it is not for sale, lease or rent (individual use). If they hire a contractor, the contractor is considered a "prime" and required to be licensed, as well as, obtain the building permit for inspections. (TCA 62-6-103 and Rule 0680-1-.22) See "Laws, Rules and Regulations" link from our website.

A homeowner should never obtain the permit on behalf of the contractor, as this could relieve the contractor from most liability and insurance requirements. In addition, the contracts should not be split into phases to circumvent the law. Anyone who is paid in excess of $25,000 by the owner is considered a prime and required to be licensed. Please see Consumer Resources for tips and for further information.

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Is a company (or owner) permitted to build its own office without a contractor’s license?

No. If the building will be open to the public, it is not considered for individual use and a commercial (BC-BC-B) contractor license classification is required if the total cost is $25,000 or more. The project cannot be split into phases/portions to circumvent the law. There are exemptions if the structure is not open to the public, or for sale, lease, or rent, such as storage buildings.  See TCA 62-6-103 and Rule 0680-1-.22 "Laws, Rules and Regulations" link from our website.

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Is it legal for a church to construct its building?


No. For safety and liability reasons, the law does not exempt a church or any other entity to build a structure open to the public, when the total cost is $25,000 or more.

State law states any person, firm, or church is required to hire a licensed contractor with the appropriate license classification and monetary limit in order to construct a building in excess of $25,000 because it is open to the public and not for individual use. The contracts/permits should not be split into phases to circumvent the law. A contractor with a commercial (BC or BC-B) classification and appropriate monetary limit, would be required. See (TCA 62-6-103 and Rule 0680-1-.22) "Laws, Rules and Regulations" link from our website.

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How long will it take to process my application?

The following are approximate timelines on processing license applications received by our office, when all information is submitted complete and accurate:

Contractors – Four (4) to Six (6) weeks

  • Applications require full approval of the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors.
  • The Board meets during the months of January, March, May, July, September, and November. (Calendar). Some applicants are required to attend the meeting for to be interviewed (see application instructions).
  • Deadline date to submit application is the 20th of the month prior to the Board meeting.
  • Prior to submitting the application, applicants must fulfill exam requirements and hire a CPA to prepare a financial statement.
  • Hardship Requests: Applicants who have provided a hardship letter from the owner may obtain a license within less than10 days. (Hardship criteria)
  • Exam requirement: "Business and Law"; and in some cases, applicable "Trade" exam(s).


Home Improvement – Approximately Four (4) to Six (6) weeks

  • Requires Board approval; interview may be required if there are felony convictions, complaints, or application discrepancies.
  • Applications must be received timely before the next regularly scheduled Board meeting. To ensure they are reviewed, please send by the 20th of the month prior to the Board meeting (see Calendar).
  • No exam required.


Limited Licensed Electrician – Approximately two (2) weeks

 
  • Does not require Board approval, unless there is a request to waive the trade exam for a reinstatement or there are felony convictions, complaints, or application discrepancies.
  • Applications are processed in order received, with no deadline date, unless it needs board review.
  • LLE exam is required.


Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP) - Approximately two (2) weeks

  • Does not require Board approval unless there is a request to waive the trade exam for a reinstatement or there are felony convictions, complaints, or application discrepancies.
  • Applications are processed in order as received; there is no deadline date, unless it needs to be reviewed by the Board.
  • LLP exam is required.



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License Types

 

Contractors and Subcontractors

 

All of this information is available in detail at the Board’s website link at:  http://www.tn.gov/regboards/contractors/index.shtml   

 

A “Contractor's” license is needed for the following and prior to contracting, bidding, offering or negotiating a price, for projects $25,000 or more:

  • Prime (general) Contractors - Bidding or contracting directly with the owner;
  • Subcontractors - Bidding directly to a contractor (not the owner) to perform the following:
    • Electrical; Mechanical; Plumbing; and HVAC when the total cost is $25,000 or more;
    • Roofing (effective January 1, 2014) projects that are $25,000 or more; and
    • Masonry projects $100,000 and up.
      • Note:  Total cost includes profit, all materials, equipment, and labor
  • Construction Management - of any kind, where the value of the project is $25,000 or more.

The definition of contractor is found in the statute at § T.C.A. 62-6-103.

 

See the classification outline for all the different types of prime contractors at:  http://www.tn.gov/regboards/contractors/documents/ClassificationOutlineWeb.pdf

A contractor's license is obtained as a Sole Proprietor, Corporation, Partnership or LLC, and issued in the exact name of the entity listed on the financial statement.  Trade Exam(s) are required for many classifications; and the Tennessee Business and Law exam is required by ALL new license applicants. All contractor licenses are issued with a classification and monetary limit.  Contractors must bid in the exact name listed on the license. A Contractor's license is assigned a monetary limit and also a classification, such as: Building (Residential, Commercial and Industrial); Electrical; Mechanical (Plumbing and HVAC); Heavy Construction; Highway, Railroad & Airport; Masonry; Municipal Utility; Environmental; and Specialties (landscaping, excavation, roofing, cell towers, solar panels, audio visual, etc.,). Construction Managers would be required to be licensed.

 

A Qualifying Agent (QA) is the person who passed the exam(s) on behalf of the business obtaining a contractor's license.  In order to be a QA, you must be a majority owner of the business entity; or an officer or full time employee with a power of attorney (see form in the application) may be designated on behalf of the business entity. A QA may be listed on more than one license if they have majority ownership of at least one of the licensed entities.  For example, a QA may be a full time employee on a license and may also perform work on the side with a business they own.  Note:  The license does not belong to the QA simply because they are the individual who passed the exam, unless they are the owner of the business and their financial statement is utilized to obtain the license (exam scores are not considered the license).  If the QA leaves, the contractor has three (3) months to replace, however, the statute requires the Board to be notified within 10 days (See Rule 0680-1-.02(3) and 0680-1-.23 and TCA 62-6-115).  There are forms available on the "Forms and Downloads" or you may simply put the notification in writing by email, mail, or fax it to us.

 

NOTE: Always contact the local county/city permit offices for their license requirements. Contact information for all municipalities is available at: Local Government City and County Information

 

See also "Other Valuable Resources" on our website for more information.

 


Home Improvement Licenses

The home improvement license is required to perform remodeling in the following nine (9) counties -- Bradley, Davidson, Haywood, Hamilton, Knox, Marion, Robertson, Rutherford, and Shelby -- when the cost is more than $3,000 to less than $25,000 ($25,000 and up require a "contractor" license), to existing residential homes.

The law (T.C.A. 62-6-501) states home improvement means the repair, replacement, remodeling, alteration, conversion, modernization, lead-based paint abatement, or addition to any land or building that is used or designed to be used as a residence or dwelling for one to four units. This includes the construction, replacement, or improvement of driveways, swimming pools, porches, garages, landscaping fences, fall-out shelters, roofing, painting and other improvements adjacent to the dwelling. In addition, the installation of storm windows, awnings, and also for central heating or air conditioning systems (unless the trade is regulated separately within the municipality, per T.C.A. 62-6-503). Each location of the home improvement business would need a license, unless they hold a contractor license.

Home improvement does not cover electrical or plumbing. You must check with the local jurisdiction for their requirements, permits and inspections. This may include obtaining the state's license as a Limited Licensed Electrician (LLE) or Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP). There is not a state HVAC license for projects less than $25,000.

 

*Lead based paint removal - see important requirements at the "Home Improvement" section of the Board's website.

 

Home Improvement recently merged with the Contractor’s Board. Any county may choose to adopt the law and more information is available on the Website.

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Home Improvement -- How to Obtain

No exam is required for home improvement licenses.

  1. Application fee of $250
  2. Licenses are for two (2) years
  3. Attach an original proof of financial responsibility in the amount of $10,000 in ONE of the following forms. (1) Surety bond with written Power of Attorney attached, (2) cash bond, (3) property bond, (4) Irrevocable letter of credit (ILOC). Note: Bonds and ILOC's cannot be released for one (1) year after replacing or license expiration. The license is issued in the exact name of the company or individual on the bond.
  4. Submit proof of insurance: workers' compensation; and general liability in the minimum amount of $100,000.
  5. Please allow 5 to 7 business days for mail delivery to our office. You may check status of license issuance under License Search.
  6. The Board must approve the license issuance. Must submit the completed application by the 20th of the month prior to the Board meeting. The Board meets during the months of January, March, May, July, September and November. To obtain a license prior to the Board meeting, a contractor may supply a written request for an emergency review.


Complete instructions Home Improvement  

Home Improvement Application [pdf]

License Issuance

Upon approval of your completed application, a permanent license will be mailed. Applications submitted correctly and completely will be presented to the Board. Please allow 5 to 7 business days for mail. Please display your license in a noticeable place at your business location and list your license I.D. number in advertisements. Never require the consumer to pay for the project prior to completion; the law limits one-third 1/3 down payment to begin the project. Contracts must be in writing. Licenses are renewable on a two year cycle); cannot be renewed if expired in excess of 90 days and would need to reinstate an expired license through the new (initial) application process. License is considered invalid upon bond cancellation. You should receive a license renewal within 90 days of expiration. However, you must notify the Board of any address change, as state mail is not forwarded. If you do not receive a renewal in the mail, you may download from the Forms and Downloads section of our Web site.

Bonds / Irrevocable Letter of Credits (ILOC)

A home improvement contractor's bond or ILOC filed with our Board for obtaining and renewing a license cannot be released to the contractor for a period of 12 months after the license has expired; or until after the initial request, to replace/withdraw. This is to cover all prior projects should consumers have a claim. Therefore, if providing a cash or property bond, please keep this in mind. The bond is public information and consumers may request to file against the bond from a judgment.

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Limited Licensed Electrician

This state license is only required for electricians where the total cost is LESS THAN $25,000 and if they are working in a municipality where there is not a local license agency for inspections; the State Fire Marshal’s office with the Division of Fire Protection performs these inspections for local government having no codes inspectors. A contractor license with a CE classification is exempt from the LLE; but not exempt from local license/permit fees or inspections. Instructions for obtaining an LLE license are on the application, located on our Web site under Forms and Downloads.

To make sure of the type of license needed for projects less than $25,000, you must check with the local government; contact information is available on our Web site, or you may check with the local power company for their local licensing, permit, and inspection requirements. Some may require you to take their electrical exam, unless you have a CE contractor license.

The LLE is not accepted where the local jurisdiction has licensing and inspections already in place, such as the following: Davidson (Nashville); Hamilton (Chattanooga); Knox (Knoxville); Shelby (Memphis).

Local License (City/County from each municipality)

The local license is required regardless of the amount of the project, in areas where there is a codes office.

When there is not a local codes office, you would check with the county, such as the power company, for locations of the permit offices. Local licenses with codes are typically referred to as journeyman/master, etc. Every jurisdiction is different, and you must adhere to their local requirements. If you have a state contractors CE license, you will not be required to take their local electrical exam, but will need to pay their fees. Those who work in counties having a codes office which performs their own inspections (such as Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Shelby, etc.), licensing and testing, the LLE is not accepted. Please contact your local codes for their requirements.

Information is available on our Web site, or you may check with the local power company.

More information on obtaining a Limited Licensed Electrician (LLE) license is on the Web site.

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Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP)

The Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP) license is required for projects less than $25,000 in municipalities where there are no local plumbing licensing agencies and inspections (except for the 15 *exempt counties). Plumbing work is defined as the construction, alteration, repair, improvement, movement, demolition, putting up, tearing down, or furnishing labor to install material or equipment within any residential or commercial building of all piping, fixtures, and appliances for the supply of gas, water, liquids or disposal of waster water or sewage; provided, that there is no intent to require licensure under this part for plumbing work performed outside a residential or commercial building, including but not limited to utility connections or irrigation systems.

LLP License Exemptions

  • A state-licensed plumbing contractor with a CMC-A, MC-A, CMC, or MC classification is exempt from the LLP requirement.
  • Modular home installer or retailer licensees performing plumbing work on a modular unit, in connection with a manufacturer’s warranty
  • Employed as a plumber with a State licensed plumber or contractor
  • Homeowner may perform plumbing on their own residence
  • Appliance hook-ups have exemptions, where the cost of labor is less than $500
  • Locally licensed as a plumber within the county, city or municipality where performing plumbing work; (the LLP is not accepted)
  • Working in any of the 15 exempt counties where the LLP is not required. Those exempt counties are Benton, Decatur, Dickson, Giles, Henderson, Henry, Hickman, Humphreys, Lake, Lawrence, Lewis, Obion, Perry, Stewart and Weakley.



Note: A limited licensed plumber (LLP) may not use the appellation term "contractor" unless they hold a contractor license.

Inspections are performed by the Divison of Fire Prevention in municipalities without a codes office.


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Fire Protection -- Fire Sprinkler Systems

Those performing work on fire protection and fire sprinkler systems, must also register with the Tennessee Division of Fire Protection. More information may be obtained from their website. A sprinkler license as a "Firm" and another for the "RME" (Responsible Managing Employee) is required with this Division. For projects $25,000 or more, the contractor must also have a third license as a contractor with a CMC-D classification.

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Disclosures - Felony Conviction/Judgment/Discipline/Complaints

All license applicants (new and renewal) must disclose felony convictions, history of complaints (open, closed, or dismissed), judgments (paid, pending, under appeal, or unpaid), and any disciplinary action taken from any licensing agencies (state, including out-of-state, and local government) against the licensee or the owners, officers or Qualifying Agent(s) of the licensee business entity, including from prior business entities or licenses.  Disclosure does not preclude someone from obtaining a new license, however, it does require the Board to review to ensure the public is protected.  If not fully disclosed, it is grounds to deny issuance of a new license.  For renewal, a complaint may be opened for the Board to review to determine whether the licensee places the public's safety and welfare at risk.  The complaint review process is separate and does not affect the renewal issuance.  If it's determined to be a risk to the public, or in cases when the licensee did not properly disclose (falsifying application), the Board may authorize disciplinary action to suspend, revoke, or assess a civil penalty.  All license respondents would first be given the opportunity of a formal hearing pursuant to the Administrative Law Act (see T.C.A. 62-6-118) before action is taken.  During this time, it would not affect the renewal issuance as long as renewal requirements were met.  The only exception would be for a summary suspension to take immediate action before a hearing may be held and the licensee would be notified.

 

 

Convicted of a Felony

If you have been convicted of a felony in any jurisdiction (Tennessee or any state), this requires disclosure and providing information regarding the felony(s) for the Board to review.  The applicant (new or *renewal) must provide the following: 

 

  1. Written statement explaining conviction
    • Age at time of conviction
    • Description of crime
    • Activities that lead to conviction
    • Improvements, changes or clean criminal history since conviction
  2. A copy of the official charging document (court order)
    • Proof of sentence, amount of time served, probation time; and disposition (final outcome)
  3. Proof of release from probation (at least one year is required)
  4. Tennessee Criminal History report from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) showing timeline of criminal history background.
  5. Interview with the Board

 


*Renewal disclosure of felony would not require the five (5) items above if "disclosed earlier", as long as all the information was provided when disclosed at the time of original licensing or prior renewal.  If you check "Disclosed Earlier" and upon audit it was determined it had not and none of the information was provided, then a complaint would be opened at that time it is discovered for the Board to review. 

 

Before a license is granted to anyone with a felony conviction, they will be required to appear for an interview with a Board member at one of the regularly scheduled meetings, six (6) times annually. After the interview, the full Board will vote to accept recommendation to approve or deny.  The Board is charged with protecting the safety and welfare of the public and they will judge each individual case on its own merit and time.  Be sure to include all the items above.  The written statement explaining details of the conviction should be very clear, thorough, as to the activities causing the conviction. If too vague with unaswered issues, the Board may not accept and hold for additional information which could further delay the decision. 

 

 

Judgments/Discipline/Complaints

 

If the licensee or owner, officer, or Quailifying Agent (QA) of any business entity (licnesed or unlicensed) has complaints (open, closed or dismissed) with the Board; or construction related liens/judgments (paid; unpaid; pending or appealed); or disciplinary action taken by another licensing agency (state, out-of-state, or local government), please disclose on any license application completed (new, renewal or revision).  Be sure to check "Yes", list the approximate date/year, and attach a statement explaining the details, or applicable court judgments or status of case.  Disclosure does not preclude obtaining a license or hold up the renewal issuance.  However, failure to disclose is considered a violation in which a complaint is opened for disciplinary action to be considered by the Board. If you have "Disclosed Earlier" an explaination is not required to be resubmitted.  Disclosures are turned over to our Legal Section to determine whether further Board review is needed.  New license applicants would be required to interview with the Board in order for a license to be granted. 

 

 


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Examination/Testing Information

Are examinations required to obtain a license?

Yes, exams are required to obtain a license for contractor; limited licensed electrician (LLE); and limited licensed plumber (LLP); an exam is not required for the home improvment license.

Contractor applicants must take the Business and Law exam. Also, a trade exam may be required if you perform any of the following trades:

  • Building (residential, commercial, or industrial)
  • Electrical and mechanical (plumbing, HVAC/refrigeration, fire sprinkler)
  • A new masonry exam, LMC (Licensed Masonry Contractor) was put in place on January 1, 2011 in order to perform or bid work as a prime or subcontractor, whenever the total cost is $100,000 and up. The former BC-9 or BC (commercial) will no longer be acceptable. See "Masonry" summary of legislation from our website.


More information relative to exams and classifications are available under Contractor Classifications Outline; and also the exam provider's information is in the Candidate Information Bulletin prepared by PSI, our exam vendor.

Not all "contractor" professions require a trade exam; all require the "Business and Law". Exams are good for two years, unless the qualifing agent has remained active in construction, then may be accepted longer. As for trade exams, no trade exams for those performing any one of the 34 building categories, such as: roofing, landscaping, excavation, floor covering, conveyors, demolition, irrigation, painting, etc., (any one of the 34 building categories in the classification rules of 0680-.16, no exam; more than five (5) of these classifications would require either a residential or commercial building exam, with the exception of BC-9 (masonry) which has it's own LMC (Licensed Masonry Contractor) trade exam); no trade exam for: audio video installation, low voltage conduit, telephone lines, cable TV lines, and solar panel installation (without perfoming electrical) are not required to take a trade exam. No trade exams for any of the Heavy Construction (HC); or Highway, Railroad, and Airports (HRA); or Environmental (Asbestos, Lead, etc); no trade exams are required. To obtain a full Municipal Utility "MU" or "MU-B" to build sewer plants, requires a commercial exam. Many combined exams are offered, such as: Residential, Commercial (BC-A,B or BC-A,b(sm); or mechanical combined exam to include plumbing and HVAC (CMC); or to obtain 5 or more of the subcategories would require a trade exam in that profession. Exams are provided by PSI. More helpful information regarding the exams is available under the "Contractor Classifications Outline" or you may email staff from the "Contact" information. Reciprocity information may be obtained at the website for a complete list of states with a trade exam waiver agreement. In addition, the NASCLA commercial exam is accepted.


Other trade license exams, regulated by the board, for projects less than $25,000, are as follows:

  • Contractor - See PSI's "Candidate Information Bulletin" for all exams
  • Limited Licensed Electricians (LLE) - 40 question LLE trade exam. (Business and Law exam is not required.) See "LLE Candidate Information Bulletin" for books and registration information.
  • Limited Licensed Plumbers (LLP) - 40 question LLP trade exam. (Business and Law exam is not required.) See "LLP Candidate Information Bulletin" for books and registration information.
  • Home Improvement - No exams required.


Exams are open-book based upon the information provided in each profession's "Candidate Information Bulletin" provided by PSI.

Bookstores for Exam Publication Resources – what is the link?

PSI - Code Books and Reference Manuals


NASCLA - Tennessee Business and Law Reference Manual

Home Improvement licenses do not require an exam.

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How do I apply for licensing exam?

You must apply through the Board’s exam vendor, PSI. (Note: Passing the exam does not allow you to perform work as a licensee; this is only part of the process.)

 

Only the Plumbing (CMC-A or CMC) exam requires preapproval and this form is part of the exam information.

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Are licensing exams available online?

No. Exams are offered at the testing centers located in Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Jackson, and Johnson City. In addition, PSI has test sites in more than 26 states. Those out of state may request by special accommodations to take the Tennessee exams in a state closer to them. Those with disabilities may also request special accommodations. (Registration is available online, but not the test.)

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May I sign up online?

Yes, you may schedule the exam online through PSI. Exams are scheduled by appointment, and you should never have to wait more than 14 days to get a date. Scheduling requires using your social security number.

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May I take the exam without signing up in advance?

No. You must contact PSI to schedule to take the exam by appointment. You may call PSI at: 1-800-733-9267.

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Do I have to be pre-approved to take a trade exam prior to registering with PSI?

Only the Plumbing/Mechanical trade exam requires preapproval. The Plumbing (CMC or CMC-A) or full mechanical preapproval is performed quickly by the Board office. Information is available under Exam Preapproval Request in Forms and Downloads, as well as the CIB. Plumbers must provide proof of three (3) years experience or have an engineering degree in plumbing or mechanical to be approved.

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Can more than one (1) exam be taken in a day?

Yes, but check to see if you will be given a lunch break in between tests. Exams are often administered without a break when taking more than one in a day; and may be given "back to back".

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What is the Cost?

The exam cost is $55.00 for each exam. There is not a limit on the amount of times you may take the exam, however, this may be an issue with the testing center if taking more than four times to obtain questions to sell to applicants. More information on the exam appointments, fees, locations, etc., is available under the “Exam” heading or in PSI’s “Candidate Information Bulletin.” There is no limit on how many times you may take the exam, as long as you follow PSI’s guidelines.

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Are cram schools permitted for exam preparation?

It is not a requirement (or recommended) to go to a pre-licensing preparation school to cram for the exams, as exams are open book. However, if you choose to do so, these schools are required to be approved by the Board and are listed on our Web site.

Pre-licensing contractor examination course providers are regulated by the Board and required to be licensed prior to offering classes to take the contractors exams.

These course providers may not:

  1. Guarantee you will pass the exam
  2. Offer financial statement advice or refer you to a CPA/PA
  3. Offer insurance
  4. Ensure the class has adequate space and seating
  5. Provide actual questions from the contractor’s exam
  6. Entice students to purchase unnecessary course materials or classes where the contractor does not need or is experienced.


If you’ve taken a course and the laws, rules, and regulations have been violated, you may submit a written complaint. (See the “Law and Rules” section on the web and review under T.C.A. 62-6-138 and Rule 0680-5, for further information.)

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I passed my exam, what do I do next?

The exam is only one part of obtaining a license. You will need to attach a photocopy of your exam score(s) to your license application and complete all the licensing requirements. Scores are given the same day as tested. (By providing a copy of the exam, it helps us to obtain a verification quickly from PSI by having the correct individual's name and SS number.)

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I am licensed in another state and want to operate in Tennessee. Do you have reciprocity agreements with other states? Which states?

You cannot operate in Tennessee with another state's license. The reciprocal agreement is a trade exam waiver, only. The other state's trade exam scores are accepted if you are currently licensed as a "Contractor" by a contractor's board in Alabama (building, HVAC and electrical), Arkansas, Georgia (commercial), Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina (residential and commercial, only), Ohio (electrical and mechanical), or South Carolina. Tennessee also accepts the NASCLA National Commercial exam.

Contractors with licenses from the above states must still take the Tennessee Business and Law exam and complete all application requirements prior to being licensed in Tennessee.

Not all agencies within these states reciprocate due to their local codes and trades licensing. The state where you are licensed must complete the License Verification form located in the contractor license application.

In addition, many local trade exams, such as the electrical and mechanical with local municipalities (Nashville, Knoxville, Oak Ridge, etc.) in Tennessee might be acceptable. You must provide proof by having a letter stating their exam is comparable to Tennessee’s and was proctored.

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I have a Tennessee license and need to apply for a license in another state

You may fax the license verification form to (615) 532-2868; or scan and send it by email to Contractors.Home-Improvement@TN.Gov or mail to our office address listed below:

500 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243-1150

There is not a fee by Tennessee for this service.  More information about the trade exam waiver is available at Trade Exam Reciprocal States You may also contact our reciprocation section (615 532-3993) to obtain information for getting a verification form completed by Tennessee. More information concerning licensing requirements of other states is available from the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies (NASCLA) www.nascla.org

 

To obtain a new Tennessee license, you would need to give your state the license verification form from our license application to complete. Questions for new licensing should be directed to (615) 532-3983 or send to our email address located in the "Contact Information".


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Retesting - Are old exam results acceptable? How recent must they be?

Exam scores are typically acceptable for two (2) years, with some *exceptions.  For example:

  • After passing the trade exam, you have two (2) years to use these scores to obtain a license.
  • If your license has been expired two (2) years or more, and you want to reapply for a license, you may be required to retake the trade exam, unless, you provide evidence where you have remained active in the industry by working for another contractor as an employee or a sub, or at a limit in which a license is not required, or working in another state (as stated in the *exceptions below).
  • For Qualifying Agents (QA) never holding a license, If it has been two (2) years or more since you were designated or worked in the construction industry, you would not be able to be added as a QA to another contractor's license, or apply for your own license, without retaking the trade exam. Must provide evidence of current experience if the exam scores are older than two years. 


*Exceptions:  Trade exams may be considered acceptable by the Board after two (2) years or more, for those providing a written request with their the application, and showing evidence of current experience where they have remained active in the industry, as follows:  (1) Working for another contractor or in another state; or (2) Performing work as a subcontractor without being required to be licensed; or (3) Performing work in an amount in which a license is  not required; and (4) Experience listed shows you are knowledgeable and up to date on applicable codes.

 

If you are unable to show proper evidence where you have remained active in the industry since passing the exam or leaving a licensed entity, your application may be rejected until you have supplied a current trade exam score.  Requests for waiver of retaking the trade exam should be sent with your application and it will be presented to the Board for a ruling. The Board does not require the "Business and Law" exam to be retaken, unless there is a history of complaints, judgments, or convictions. 

 

All written requests to waive re-taking the trade exam will be reviewed by the Board as part of the application.  The ultimate decision to grant an exam waiver is up to the Board and our office cannot make this ruling. 


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Is continuing education required?

No. The Board does not require continuing education. Some programs, such as environmental licenses with the Department of Environment and Conservation or Medical Gas installers, may require continued education for certifications. Therefore, you would be required as a condition of these licenses to keep abreast of current certifications, according to their laws and regulations.

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May the person taking the exam (qualifying agent) be listed or designated on more than one license?

Yes, if that person has majority ownership of at least one business entity, they may be listed as the Qualifying Agent (QA) on more than one license. 

  • If the QA is only a fulltime employee without majority ownership, that QA would not be allowed to be designated on another license. 
  • A QA working for a contractor as a fulltime employee may also apply for their own license (to perform side work) and if they are a majority owner of the second business entity, they would qualify to be designated as the QA for both licenses.
  • Parent companies with several subsidiaries may request to use the same individual as the QA on more than one license, by providing an explanation of their responsibilities and how they are considered a full time employee at more than one entity, or the role of a designated officer (may use an organization chart).    The Board may request an interview by the owner and QA before approving requests for a QA to be added to more than two (2) licenses.


Qualifying agents, who have no ownership of the entity applying for the license, may be required to interview with the Board if they have been employed less than six (6) months or listed on more than two licenses. Providing a W-2 form or past check stubs may be requested to prove employment to have the interview waived. If an interview is required, the owner would need to also attend the interview with the QA.

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Is the qualifying agent considered the owner of the license?

No, the entity providing the financial statement is considered the owner(s) of the license, and they may be a sole proprietor, corporation, partnership or LLC.  If the qualifying agent is only a fulltime employee and lacks majority ownership, the license belongs to the business entity (exam scores are not considered a license).  If the QA leaves, the entity has 90 days to replace them but is required by statute to notify the Board within 10 days after the QA leaves. The trade exam would be required to replace or add a qualifying agent for classifications with a trade exam.  The Business and Law exam is not required to be retaken. If there is not a *trade exam, then the new QA designated would submit a list of experience or resume.  If a new QA has not been designated after 90 days, the license classification is removed from the license. If they were the sole QA covering all classifications, the license will be made invalid with a status of “Needs QA.” After the license expiration of 12 months, the license cannot be renewed.  See the statute form more information; Rule 0680-1-.02(3), 0680-1-.23; and T.C.A. 62-6-115. 

*For classifications that do not require a trade exam, the new QA must supply a resume of experience and, if applicable, provide environmental training certificates for environmental specialty classifications (lead, asbestos, mold, remediation, UST, etc.).  See the "Classification Outline" on the website.

 

See the "Forms and Downloads" for the application to add a new QA; or to add an additional QA; or to remove a QA.  New QA's must disclose all past licenses, complaint history, and felony convictions.  These would require Board review at their regularly scheduled meetings (see "Public Meetings Calendar" for dates).

 

Whenever there is a change of ownership, a new license must be obtained regardless of the QA remaining with the new owner(s).  The new application process would not require retaking the exams as long as the QA remained.

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Changes in license status:

How do I renew a license?

Renewal notices are mailed 90 days prior to the license expiration date to the address listed on file. It takes approximately 30 days to process once received by our office. Even if you renew online, a license renewal form is automatically generated 90 days prior to the expiration date and mailed to each licensee.

 

You may also check the status of your license at:  http://verify.tn.gov/   If you have moved, state government mail is not typically forwarded to the new address by the postal services. If you have not received your renewal form, you may download from our website links as follows:

 

Paper Renewal Forms

 

Contractors

http://www.tn.gov/regboards/contractors/documents/ContractorsRenewalWeb.pdf  

 

Home Improvement

http://www.tn.gov/regboards/contractors/documents/HICRenewalWeb.pdf

 

LLE

http://www.tn.gov/regboards/contractors/documents/LLERenewalWeb.pdf

 

LLP

http://www.tn.gov/regboards/contractors/documents/LLPRenewalWeb.pdf

 

 

You may contact our office at 1-800-544-7693 or by Contractor.Renewal@tn.gov and request the type of renewal needed and for one to be sent by mail or email. 

 

- Or-

 

Online Renewal Process

 

Online Renewal is now available for all of the following licensing programs:

  • Limited Licensed Electricians (LLE)
  • Limited Licensed Plumbers (LLP)
  • *Contractors (partial)
  • *Home Improvement Contractor (partial)

 

*Partial renewal is only available for "Contractors" and "Home Improvement Contractors", at this time.  Must send financial statement information (Contractors); bonds (Home Improvement); proof of insurance; and any disclosures, by mail or scanned and emailed to Contractor.Renewal@tn.gov as these cannot be downloaded to the "Online Renewal".

 

"Online Renewal" process allows paying the renewal fees online by credit-card (requires an additiional service fee) and provides a means to answer renewal questions from the form. However, those renewals requiring additional documentation (Contractors and Home Improvment Contractors), must send this information into the Board office by mail or scan and send by email in order to complete the renewal process. We apologize for this inconvenience and hopefully, the online system will soon be fully functional. 

 

  1. Please allow up to 30 days to process a renewal if submission is correct and complete. For online renewals, allow up to 30 days once we receive all of the required documents and matched with the pending online renewal.  Failure to supply the required financial statement (contractors) and proof of insurance or disclosures, will delay the issuance.  When sending, be sure to note the information is for an "Online Renewal" so it may be matched quickly. State mail delivery takes 5 to 7 business days to reach our office.
  2. The statute requires the renewal to be received in our office 30 days prior to the expiration date to prevent from working unlicensed. However, a late fee is not assessed until the renewal is received after the expiration date.  (The first month, a late fee is not generated until the 8th day).  Each license has a limited time to renew with late fees before filing a new application.
  3. There is not a grace period to allow performing work, bidding or contracting while the license is expired.
  4. Address changes cannot be processed online (see information below).
  5. Retirement of a Contractor's license cannot be processed online (see information below).

 

Renewal for Contractors:


  • Complete the Notice of Renewal or Online Renewal
    • The Board automatically mails a condensed one (1) page (front and back) renewal form.  For those needing to use our financial statement format, forms ay be printed from the Board's "Forms and Downloads" website or see links at: Renewal Resource
  • Renewal fee is $200 for two (2) years. There is a $20-per-month late fee, not to exceed 12 months. Renewal fee may be paid online by credit or debit card.  However, those received in the mail to the cashier must make payment by check or money order. 
    • Late fees are calculated the day after the license expires, except the law allows a 7 day grace for the first month, only.  A license expired on July 31st and received on July 5th, a late fee would not be assessed for August until ones received on August 8th.  Another example, if the renewal expires on July 31st, but the renewal is not received until September 1st, a late fee of $40 is assessed for both August and September (7 days grace applies to first month, only). 
  • A contractor license cannot be renewed if expired 12 months or more.
    • After 12 months, a new contractor license application must be submitted to reinstate an expired license.  Exams may not be required to be retaken, however, all other requirements must be fulfilled. See "new application" form for instructions.  The fee to reinstate is the same as the new application fee ($250).
  • The renewal process requires supplying the following current information:
    • Address Change - The paper form allows a place to make changes, however, an address change cannot be changed online.  You may utilize the "Address Change" form and send by email, fax or mail at:  http://www.tn.gov/regboards/contractors/documents/AddressChangeForm.pdf
    • Mode of Operation
      • If your mode of operation has changed since last renewing or originally obtaining a license, you have the option to renew in the same mode (must operate as licensed); or apply for a "Transfer" - Mode of Operation Change". Example:  This allows a "corporation" to change to a "LLC" and requires Board approval for a new license to be issued.
    • Qualifying Agent
      • If the QA designated on the license has left, you must supply a new one by completing the required "QA Change" request form within 90 days. Do not list a QA that has not been approved. This could cause a delay in licensing if this is not corrected in our system and may occur at a later audit or review of the license file. 
    • Monetary Limit - A current financial statement (12 months) must be in the name as licensed, and must show sufficient working capital and net worth to support monetary limit.  Monetary Limit is based on (10 times the lesser of working capital and net worth
      • Example #1: Contractor with $500,000 limit must show minimum of $50,000 in both working capital and net worth.  If their working capital is $40,000, but their net worth is $100,000, the contractor would only qualify for a $400,000 limit since the working captial is the lesser of the two. A contractor may self prepare their financial statement and a CPA review or audit would not be required for contractors with a limit up to $1,500,000. If the net worth in this example was $50,000, an option to increase the working capital would be to obtain a Line of Credit in the amount of $10,000; or other optins include using supplemental financials with indemnities.  Note:  A Line of Credit is used at full value, unless, there is a negative working capital.  Then it is only valued at 50%. In this example, if the working captial was a negative {40,000}, then a Line of Credit would be needed in the amount of $100,000 for a monetary limit of $500,000.
      • Example #2: Unlimited limit requires having a minimum of $300,000 in both working capital and net worth.  Any limit more than $1,500,000 would require a Reviewed Or Audited financial statement prepared by a CPA (must be complete and include all the notes).  More information on financial statements for renewals may be reviewed at:  http://www.tn.gov/regboards/contractors/documents/RenewalInstructBookletWeb.pdf
      • Example #3: The Board may also allow renewing at 50% of the "total" net worth whenever the working capital is not sufficient.  A contractor with a net worth of $1,000,000 would qualify to renew at $500,000 which is the 50% of the total, regardless of the working capital amount. For licensees not qualifying for their monetary limit, options to supplement with Lines of Credit, personal Guaranties, Bonds, or if using a parent company to supplement and/or indemnify, see the policies with information on our website at: http://www.tn.gov/regboards/contractors/documents/BLC-GuarantyAgreementPolicy.pdf
      • Financial Statement - A CPA is required to prepare financial statements in which the monetary limit is more than $1,500,000, and it does not have to be an “audit” as required for first-time licensing and revisions; “Reviewed” is acceptable for renewing, including for "unlimited" license limits. 
        • Contractor’s with a limit less than $1,500,000 may prepare their own statement or a compiled. 
          • Note:  The new renewal form that is automatically mailed is one page and no longer includes a sample financial statement.  You may use your own as long as the assets and liabilites are broken out to determine working capital and net worth.  Or, you may use the financial statement from our former "complete" renewal version which is on our website at:  http://www.tn.gov/regboards/contractors/documents/ContractorsRenewalWeb.pdf
        • For corporations with a different year end as from their expiration date, they may request in writing to use past statement until their CPA has finalized. Unfortunately, the expiration date cannot be changed to correlate with year-end.  It would be best to attach the prior statement, otherwise, the auditor may hold until received.
    • Proof of insurance (general liability and workers compensation).
    • Corporations and LLCs must ensure they are active with the Secretary of State.
  • Supply renewal 30 days prior to the expiration date to prevent having an expired status.  These are processed in order as received and due to having 12 months to renew, some months will have more renewals to process.  Therefore, always allow at least 30 days for processing! 


Once your license expires, there is not a grace period to continue working on an expired license. Holders of expired licenses cannot legally contract or permit projects. The status on the website will change to “delinquent” for 12 months before going into a status without renewal rights. Renewals are processed in the order received and usually takes up to 30 days to processand issue, if submitted complete and accurately. Those renewals filed incomplete will not be issued until the contractor has submitted the lacking information. You may check the status of your renewal at: http://verify.tn.gov/  Always allow 30 days for renewal processing.  A list of the "Status" codes assigned to a license is available from the "License Search Tips".  However, these are subject to programming changes.  For example, once the license expires, if there are renewal rights, it will go to "Expired".  Lost renewal rights will go to "Failed to Renew". 

 

Retire (Inactive) License - A contractor may retire their license, to place in an inactive status and retain renewal rights, by paying $25.00 for each year (up to 7 years).  For example, to retire for two (2) years, the fee would be $50.00.  The $200.00 renewal fee is not required to renew, unless, the license is expired. Retiring a license is not available online at this time.  You may print the form for a new or renewal retirement at:  http://www.tn.gov/regboards/contractors/documents/RETIREMENT.pdf  Insurance and financial statements are not required to place a license in retirement. 

 

More renewal questions?  You may contact staff by email at: Contractor.Renewal@tn.gov   OR - see "Staff Directory" for contact information of the renewal staff.  This will include their direct telephone number and direct email addresses at: http://www.tn.gov/regboards/contractors/contact.shtml



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How far in advance of expiration date should my renewal be completed?

Regulations requires the renewal to be received by the board within 30 days of the expiration date. However, a late fee is not assessed unless received after the expiration date.

Please allow 5 to 7 business days for mail delivery. Late fees are not applied until after the expiration date. The Board relies on the date of receipt; not the post-mark date. Therefore, if a license expires on 9/30/2014; a late fee will be generated on 10/07/2014 for Contractor licensees (the first month allows 7 days, but cannot contract until license has been renewed).  The The status on the website will reflect “Delinquent” until the license process is finalized whenever renewing late.  After 12 months, the status changes to “Failed to Renew” and the contractor no longer has renewal rights.  You may check the license status from our website under License Search.

 

For those applying for a workers' compensation insurance exemption with the Secretary of State's office, you will need to register for this at least one day prior to the expiration date. For example, if your license expires on 11/30/2012, you will need to register by 11/29/2012 in order to obtain a discount.

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I let my license expire. How do I have it reinstated?

Each license has different renewal rights and late fees. There is not a grace period and it is not legal to perform work after the license expires. After the license expires, the status will reflect as “delinquent” until issued, if renewed prior to losing renewal rights. After the loss of renewal rights, the status reflects to “failed to renew” on the Web site. At that time, you will be required to file for a reinstatement through the new license application process and fulfill the same requirements. On page one (1) of the new application, check “reinstatement” and the same license number will be reissued.

Contractor - Late fee is $20 per month. After 12 months, a new license application must be completed and submitted. Renewal rights are lost after 12 months. After 12 months, the contractor must complete the new license application to reinstate the expired license, with all steps required, except exams are not required to be retaken as long as the license has not been expired more than two years (24 months). After two years, the contractor may request in writing to waive the exams if they have remained active in the construction industry by working in another state, or as a subcontractor or for another licensed contractor. These instructions are included in the contractor new license application. Any time a license is reinstated, the contractor may apply for the license in another name, mode of operation, and/or monetary limit, by listing the changes on the application. Be sure to check reinstatement on the new license application and list prior license ID number. A contractor may place a license in retirement in lieu of renewing, if done before the end of the 12 months.

Home Improvement - Late fee is $10 per month. After three (3) months, a new application must be submitted.

Limited Licensed Electricians - Late fee is $10 per month. After three (3) months, a new application must be submitted. Applicants must re-take the LLE exam or request waiver by the Board. See the LLE Renewal information on the Web site.

Limited Licensed Plumbers – Late fee is $5.00 per month. After three (3) months, a new application must be submitted. Applicants must re-take the LLP exam or request waiver by the Board. See the LLP application and information on the Web site.

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May I retire my license?

Only the contractor licenses have a means to retire. In lieu of renewing a contractor license, you may retire by completing the Retirement Application with a $25 fee for each year (no financial statement or insurance needed). If you send in prior to the expiration date, you will not be required to submit the renewal fee. If the license has expired, you would need to send in the renewal fee and any applicable late fees.

Should you renew the license and then place in retirement; renewal fees are non-refundable, however, you would be allowed to remove from retirement without repaying the renewal fee during that period.

The law allows a license to be retired annually for up to seven (7) years, and license holders must renew the retirement by paying $25.00 for each year (i.e., $50.00 for two years to remain on biennial cycle). After the seven-year period, renewal fee of $200.00 would be required before replacing in retirement.

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How do I reactivate my retired license?

If you retired the license prior to renewing, simply complete the license renewal requirements. No exams are required to bring a license out of retirement.

If you had already fulfilled the renewal requirements and placed the license in retirement in order to cancel insurance, you would not be required to re-submit the renewal and may then only request the license to be reactivated. This Reinstatement from Retirement form is on the Web site in the “Forms and Download” revision section.

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May I change my license to inactive status?

A licensee may put a their request in writing if they want the status changed from "Active" on their license to reflect that they "Closed" their business or "Withdrew" their license. Otherwise, the license will go through the normal cycle if it's not renewed. The license will automatically be changed to “delinquent” for 12 months (Contractors); and Home Improvement, LLE and LLP will change to “Delinquent” for three (3) months; then “Failed to Renew” after 12 months. For information on the status codes of licenses, it is available from the "Search Tips".

 

A Contractor licensee with an active license status, or if they have renewal rights, may retire a license by completing the retirement process. See more information on the "Retired" process above. The exam scores of the Qualifying Agent (QA) may be used to license another entity. More information is in the "New (initial) Contractor License" application and the Revision form of the "QA - Add or Change" form.


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I recently updated my status. Why hasn’t my status changed online?

The status on the license does not change until staff process and issue the license. For example, if the renewal was submitted late, the status will remain “delinquent” until the license is actually processed. If late fees were not received, the license will not issue. Many times, staff will not know that a late fee was not received until the completed audit at the time they attempt to approve license for issuance.

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Complaints:

How do I file a complaint against a company/individual?

A complaint may be reported against any of the professions we regulate, and complaint forms or the online process is available at Complaint Procedures Resources of our website. Please see our "Consumer Resource" of the website for more information.

Upon receipt of the complaint, our staff and legal department will evaluate whether the Board has jurisdiction to take action. The Board addresses licensing law violation complaints. Consumer residential complaints without law violations may be referred to the Division of Consumer Affairs to offer mediation.

Once complaints are investigated, they are presented to the Board anonymously by our attorney. None of the parties are identified to the Board and they do not see the complaint. The attorney prepares a legal report of law violations and recommendations to assess civil penalties, fines, or take formal action to suspend or revoke the license.

Citations with an order to “cease and desist” may be issued for unlicensed activity.

Complaints may be received anonymously. However, they must include the name, contact information, project details, and location address in order for action to be taken and investigated. These may be mailed to our office without your identification in order to remain anonymous, as these are considered a matter of public record. To ensure a complaint is investigated, you need to supply the information in writing. You may check on the status of the cases, anonymously, by calling our complaint coordinator staff person at (615) 532-3996.

The Divison of Consumer Affairs may list contractors failing to respond to a complaint on the Problem Contractor list. Disciplinary action is updated on the Department's website monthly after every Board meeting. In addition, our website has a list of formal actions of revoked and suspended licenses. Open complaint cases or those closed without discipline are not listed on the website and you would need to contact our staff to check the complaint history of a contractor.

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What can the state do if I have a legitimate grievance?

The Board does not have the authority to award monetary damages, refund money, or force the contractor to make repairs and complete the project. The Board may assess discipline such as letters of warning/caution, citations, civil penalties, consent orders and in some cases, they may revoke or suspend the license through an adversarial formal hearing process with an Administrative Judge, pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. Anyone seeking to recover monetary remedies for injuries should consult a private attorney, as the Board has no jurisdiction over these matters. Further, the Board cannot hold the issuance of a license renewal until the respondent is given due process through the Uniform Administrative Procedures by a formal hearing.

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Are there consumer tips for hiring a contractor?

Yes. Please see our main Website for all types of consumer tips.

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Where can the implied (one-year) warranty law be found?

This law is not governed by the contractor license law, however, it is under T.C.A. § 47-2-314. These laws and others relative to consumers may be reviewed on our Web site section for Consumer Law References.

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Change of address/other key information:

Am I required to notify the board if I change my address?

Yes, the law requires address changes to be submitted in writing within 30 days. Failing to do so is a violation and licensees could be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000. State mail is not forwarded and the renewal form and license would not be delivered to the new address.

To report an address change, you may use the form on the Web site at the Forms and Downloads.

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Can I change my information online?

Currently, the online renewal system does not allow licensees to make changes. 

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Misc:

How may I check or search if someone is licensed?

License Search is available online. You may obtain a list of "Search Tips".   A complete list of licensees (roster) may be downloaded from the "Reports and Data" for free. 

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Am I required to notify the board if my job status changes?

Yes. Several changes require board notification by law. When the Qualifying Agent (QA) leaves, the Board must be notified within 10 days (Rule 0680-1-.02). A new QA must be designated by the licensed entity within 90 days or the license classification for the license becomes invalid. If this is the sole classification and requires a trade exam, the license is considered invalid after the 90 days. Contractors should not note the change on the renewal without first obtaining a letter approving the new qualifying agent.

The entity is also required to notify the Board of any changes in officers. Whenever there is a change in ownership, and it's a majority change with a new stockholder, the contractor may be required to apply for a new contractor license.

If the entity changes their mode of operation, they must apply for a "Change in Mode of Operation - Transfer" before operating in the new name or mode.

Forms and instructions are available at the Forms and Downloads.

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How can I get the forms I need?

Forms are available under Forms and Downloads on by calling the Board (615) 741-8307 or 800 544-7693.

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How do I know when and where regulatory boards meet?

Our calendar is available online.

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Does this board have a newsletter to which I can subscribe?

The Board is in the process of publishing an electronic newsletter, and you may subscribe online to the TDCI (Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance) to obtain notifications to receive important notices of rulemakings and law changes with the Board, as well as other Divisons in the Department.  Online registrations are available for notifications, such as:  Email Notifications or Renewal Alerts

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Is a license required before bidding? How long does it take to get a license?

Yes, a contractor license is required prior to bidding, offering a price, or contracting for projects $25,000 or more. A Home Improvement license is required prior to offering to engage when the cost is $3,000 or more.

 

Typically, it takes 4 to 6 weeks before the license is approved. The Board is required to review and approve the "Contractor" and "Home Improvement" license applications; and the others, if there is a felony or complaint issue. They meet every other month. See the public meetings Calendar for the meeting dates and the deadline date to submit the application is the last day of the month prior to the next Board meeting.

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Is the qualifying agent considered the owner of the license?

No, unless they are the owner of the the entity providing the financial statement and insurance. The license is issued in the same name and mode of operation as the financial statement. Many times, the Qualifying Agent (QA) may be the same individual who is an owner of the licensed entity, which may be as a sole proprietor; partnership; corporation; or LLC.

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Are subcontractors required to be licensed?

Some subcontractors are required to obtain a contractor's license. Contractors bidding to any contractor are considered subcontractors. The only subcontractors required to obtain a license as a contractor are those performing work when the total cost on the project is $25,000 or more for electrical, mechanical, plumbing, HVAC, and effective January 1, 2014, roofing.  Also, effective July 1, 2010, a masonry subcontractor is also required to be licensed if the masonry portion is $100,000 or more (including material and labor). In addition, any subcontractors contracting with another subcontractor that is required to be licensed, they must also be licensed as a contractor to be a "sub to a sub to a sub" on the project.

Other "subcontractors", such as flooring, landscaping, fencing, concrete, are not required to be licensed unless they bid directly to the owner. Those bidding directly to the owner are considered “prime” contractors and required to obtain a license for projects $25,000 and more. This includes those bidding directly to a homeowner who are overseeing the building of their own house and obtained the permit. 

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Are HVAC contractors regulated by the Board for projects less than $25,000?

Not unless it is in a county that has adopted the Home Improvement law and they do not have their own HVAC permit and licensing process. Most projects with a cost of less than $25,000 are regulated at the local level. It would be best to contact the county in which the work will be performed. The Board does not have a special HVAC license for small projects, except for the Home Improvement license, which is required only in certain counties. Local municipalities have their own requirements for a license or permit for inspections.

The Board has a CMC-C classification for HVAC contractors, which is required for projects in excess of $25,000. CMC (full mechanical) also covers. For small HVAC projects please check with the local municipality for their license, permit and inspection requirements. Contact information for local government is at: http://tn.gov/local/

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May a contractor bid while in the process of obtaining a contractor license, or wait to see if they are awarded the bid, and then apply for a license?

No. Most bids require licensing information on the outside of the bid envelope or the bid will be rejected. Bidding without a license is a class A misdemeanor, and the violator is subject to fines and prohibition from participating on the project (removed). In addition, the contractor license may be held for up to six (6) months from the date the board learns of the violation, or denied.  The only exception would be Federal projects or Tennessee Department of Transportation for their highway projects.

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What if I have a chance to bid a job but my limit is not enough and the Board does not meet again for another month. Can I get a special review?

Possibly. If it is considered a “hardship” to the owner (not to you as the contractor), they may submit a written request for the contractor to have their license application to be reviewed prior to the next meeting. Hardship information is on the Website under Forms and Downloads.

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Does the Board accept credit cards online?

Only "Online" renewals will allow using credit or debit cards. Any fees not mailed must be delivered to the cashier’s office in the Davy Crockett Tower. The Board office cannot accept any fees at its physical location (Andrew Johnson Tower).  The cashier's office may accept cash, checks and money orders, but cannot accept credit or debit cards at this time.  There is an ATM machine on the first floor.

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Are contractors required to appear for a personal interview order to obtain a license?

Not typically. It is required for those applying for a BC-A/r (Limited Restricted Residential) license. Otherwise, the interview may be waived in most cases. If an interview is needed, a letter would be sent about three weeks after receipt of the application notifying whether the interview or waiver has been granted. Board meeting dates and locations are available on the "Public Meetings Calendar" of our website.

 

An interview may be required if there are complaints or complaint history; judgments; felony convictions; bankruptcy; or lack of experience; and those who took the BC-A/r course (limited restricted residential license) in lieu of the exams. In addition, an interview may be required should there be insufficient information listed regarding experience or the financial statement. To prevent the license from being issued with an uncertain monetary amount or license classification, we may prefer you to meet with a board member.  There is not a dress code to appear for an interview. 

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What is the deadline date to submit an application for the next scheduled board meeting?

"Contractor" and "Home Improvement" applications must be submitted by the 20th of the month, prior to the Board meeting, to ensure they are presented to the Board at the next regularly scheduled meeting. As time allows, others submitted after the deadline may get processed. The Board meets in January, March, May, July, September, and November. The Board calendar is located on our website. For license "revisions", the deadline date is the last day of the month prior to the Board meeting. If the deadline date lands on a weekend or holiday, it will be the next business day.

The deadline date is set in the statute to allow staff enough time to process applications to be reviewed prior to the meeting.


Limited Licensed Electricans (LLE) and Limited Licensed Plumbers (LLP) are not required to be approved by the Board, unless, they are reinstating an expired license and requesting the exam to be waived; or if there are felony or complaint issues. Then the Board would need to review prior to issuance and an interview may be required.


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What if I need a license prior to the next Board meeting or missed the deadline?

There is a hardship provision to obtain a license prior to the next board meeting or to have the deadline extended. It would be if the contractor has obtained a request from an owner who needs them as a specific contractor to bid, contract, or perform work. The law allows a license to be issued prior to the next board meeting, for hardship circumstances to an owner (not the contractor), where it is in the best interest of the public safety and welfare. Note: The contractor cannot contract, bid or offer until the hardship has been approved. If the contractor has violated the law, or has a history of complaints, judgments or convictions, the hardship will not be granted and they must appear for an interview with the Board. After the contractor completes all application requirements, they may have the owner prepare a hardship request letter to supply with their application.  These should be scanned and emailed to staff with the subject "Hardship License Request" to expedite the request.  More information on obtaining a hardship review is available under Forms and Downloads. Hardship license approvals must be posted on the website.

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If my corporation or LLC is in another state, will I need to register in Tennessee?

Yes. You would need to contact the Tennessee Secretary of State (615 741-2286)

You may obtain forms to register as a foreign corporation or limited liability company and check for name availability. To obtain a business tax license, contact the Department of Revenue. Federal Employee Identification Numbers (FEIN) may be obtained from the IRS.

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Are there specific bidding requirements?

Yes. Bidding requirements are defined in TCA § 62-6-119, which states the contractor must list their name as licensed, license ID#, classification, expiration date, and list the same information for their electrical, plumbing, mechanical or HVAC subcontractors, if those portions exceed $25,000. For geothermal, must list their Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) license information.  In addition, effective July 1, 2010, masonry subcontractors must be listed for portions $100,000 or more (including materials and labor). See "Bidding" on the website or you may review the law from our Web site under Laws, Rules and Regulations.  Effective January 1, 2014, roofing subcontractors must be licensed to perform work.  Roofing acceptable classifications include:  BC; or BC-A (for residential roofs), BC-B (commercial roofs), or BC-C (industrial roofs); or BC-21 (Roofing, Gutters and Vinyl Siding); or BC-12 (Roof Decks).

 

The contractor must have a classification that covers 60% of the project in order to bid.  If they do not, but have a commercial classification, they may bid but could not perform any of the work in excess of $25,000.  These portions would need to be subcontracted to a properly licensed contractor.  See "Classification Outline" on the website for more information.

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If a licensed prime contractor subcontracts to a licensed electrical contractor, can the electrical subcontractor subcontract to another electrical contractor who is not licensed?

No. All of the electrical subcontractors are required to be licensed, as well as, any subcontractors performing mechanical, plumbing, HVAC, roofing or masonry projects. In other words, a sub to a sub to a sub, all have to be licensed!

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May a contractor bid in another name other than as licensed?

No. Bidding in a name other than as licensed has been considered unlicensed activity. Even if the contractor owns both companies, they must bid in the name as licensed (the licensed legal entity providing the financial statement, bond and insurance). Contractors may obtain more than one license should they have additional companies separated for bookkeeping or tax reasons. In some cases, their licensed entity could contract with the owner, and subcontract to their entity, unless the subcontract requires a license (as listed above). See TCA 62-6-114 and Rule 0680-1-.25.  The entity contracting with the owner needs to be licensed in the same name as operating; and subcontractors required to be licensed must contract in the name as licensed.

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I am a licensed contractor; why haven’t I received a roster?

The law was changed in 2001 which no longer requires any of the regulatory boards to print rosters. Due to the expense and length of time it takes to print, the roster is usually outdated by the time contractors receive them by mail. That information can be found online under License Search.

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As a family business, may the parent allow their son or daughter to use the license to contract and perform work?

No. Only the approved entity may utilize the contractor license. Family members may be employees of the family business, but they may not use the license belonging to another business or individual.  The license may only be utilized by the owner(s).  It is considered a law violation to allow use of your license to another for contracting, performing work or obtaining a permit.

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How can a contractor get on the State of Tennessee’s list to bid state government contracts?

You may register as a vendor with the Tennessee Department of General Services. More information is available under Valuable Resources.

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Do all contractors have to be licensed in order to joint venture?

Yes. Please see Rule 0680-1.11. Contractors may contract as a joint venture and combine their monetary limit. The joint venture is not required to obtain a separate license; both license names should be on the contract. 

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Can a contractor bid in excess of their monetary limit?

Yes; there is a 10% bid tolerance, only. Contractors with a restricted limited license (BC-A/r) classification, do NOT have a 10% bid tolerance. Projects cannot be split into phases to circumvent the law's monetary limit for the total project amount.  In addition, contractors exceeding their monetary limit do not have the right to file a lien, regardless if it is a residential or commercial project. 

Prime contractors must be cautious when obtaining bids from subcontractors that are required to be licensed. TCA § 62-6-120 finds it a violation for a contractor to accept a bid from a subcontractor without the sufficient monetary limit and classification. In addition, only the owner may supply labor/equipment, therefore, these portions could not be deducted from the total cost of the project.  Caution is also recommended when bidding alternates as part of the total bid. The Attorney General has issued opinions on this matter; February 11, 1993 (#93-12); and August 6, 1981 (#81-452). If a bid is rejected for failing to supply a valid bid due to violating the law, the contractor may not be allowed to re-bid. 

 

Always ask for a copy of the subcontractor's license before listing them on the outside of the bid envelope or verify online.

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What if I have a chance to bid a job but my limit is not enough and the Board does not meet again for another month. Can I get a special review?

Possibly, if it is considered a “hardship” to the owner. The owner may submit a written request for the contractor to have their license application to be reviewed prior to the next meeting. Hardship information is on the Web site under Forms and Applications.

The contractor must submit a complete license application (including exams passed, financial statement submitted, etc.) or revision request, with a hardship letter from an owner (not the contractor) and it must fully describe the hardship, details of the project; name of project, bid date, estimate of project and description of the hardship (why they need you to bid the job, such as, if there are not enough competitive bids; specialized services, whether it affects public safety, etc.)

The hardship license must be approved before submitting a bid or contracting. Please review the hardship information on the Web site.

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Is there a national association which has information related to contracting regulation for all states?

Yes. The National Association of State Contractor Licensing Agencies (NASCLA) has several resources for contractors wanting to work throughout the United States. In addition, these states with trade exam waiver agreements (reciprocal), their contact information is provided. 

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I have a residential building license and want to get a commercial building license. Do I need to apply for another license?

No. You may add a classification to your current license.

Revisions must be approved by the Board and the deadline date to send is by the end of the month, prior to the next Board meeting. You may apply by completing the appropriate revision forms to: add classifications, increase your monetary limit, change mode of operation (transfer), or change name on a license.

These forms are available under Forms and Downloads.

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May I transfer my license to another company?

No. A license is not transferable to another entity. You would be required to apply for a new license or a second additional license (if you want to keep the other license active).

You may transfer or change to a different mode of operation. For example, change from a Sole Proprietor to an LLC. You cannot contract in the new mode until the license has been approved through the revision process. A revision form can be found under Forms and Downloads.

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Who is in charge of electrical inspections for the LLE license?

The Fire Prevention Division permit agencies throughout the state  

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Are fire sprinkler contractors required to be registered in addition to having a contractor license?

Yes. There are additional requirements for these contractors.

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Are there requirements for Alarm System Contractors?

Yes. Licenses are required through the Alarm Board.  If you held a E-D license classification with the Contractor's Board prior to the Alarm Systems Contractors Board's law change in 2009, it may no longer be acceptable for Alarm Systems.  You may be required to obtain their license or if you have a CE or CMC-C, you may register for an exemption with the Alarm Board.

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How can you check the complaint history of a contractor?

You must contact our complaint staff.

Open complaints are not listed on the website unless discipline has been assessed, and these are only after the case is closed. These are listed on our website at Disciplinary Actions for the department. The Division of Consumer Affairs mediates complaints and has a list of Problem Contractors. Open cases uner investigation may not have specifics to the case.  A contractor license cannot be held due to a complaint received. They are given an opportunity for a formal hearing to be held with an Administrative Judge. More information is available under Consumer Resources.

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The municipal utility (MU-B) for water and sewer systems rules indicate the BC-B (commercial) exam must be taken. What about contractors who held the license prior to the rule change?

Contractors who held a MU-B license classification prior to the rule change of April, 1996, are considered “grandfathered” and may continue to build as before the rule change.

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What is “spec” building?

Spec buildings are those built by a licensed contractor on his/her own land for the purpose of resale when there is not a custom contract.

Prior to January, 2003, certain counties allowed the provisions for contractors to spec build in their county of residence. However, legislation was put in place to allow these contractors to obtain a special “spec” homebuilding license should they apply prior to January 1, 2006. This was pursuant T.C.A. § 62-6-102(D)(i). For example, a licensed spec builder in Brownsville would have a license classification listed as: “Spec Homebuilder – Haywood County.” That contractor may build a house in which the cost is $350,000 or less.

The contractor licensed as a spec homebuilder may not construct a residence in a county in which he/she is not licensed, cannot build on land owned by another individual or entity, and cannot enter into a contract to build for anyone. In addition, a custom contract with anyone to build the home from the ground up would not be considered a spec house and would be a violation of the law.

There is no longer a provision to obtain a new spec homebuilding license. Therefore, once this license expires and is not renewed within 12 months, a spec contractor would need to apply for a residential BC-A license by taking the exams and supplying financial statements.

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Lead Abatement Requirements

Lead abatement remodelers are required to be certified through the Department of Environment and Conservation and may be contacted at 1-888-871-5323.

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Codes Adoptions

The Division of Fire Prevention is responsible for adopting building, fire codes, and sprinkler requirements for structures. However, each local government may adopt codes for its jurisdiction. More information regarding recent legislation on statewide codes is available under Laws, Rules and Regulations.

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Where may I obtain a list of the contractor license laws and regulations?

These are available at the Board’s website under Laws, Rules and Regulations.

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Is a state contractor license required to build on federal projects?

If the project is 100% federal (on federal land; federally funded, etc.), the state does not have jurisdiction and the contractor would follow the requirements by the federal government’s awarding authority. More information is available under Laws, Rules and Regulations,” Attorney General’s Opinion # 92-39.

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Are there special provisions for those in the military?

Yes, the law allows a licensee who has entered the military a means to keep renewal rights and they may reinstate their license without late fees or the requirement of filing a new license application.  In addition, those in the military or their spouse may apply for an expedited license based on House Bill #968, passed in 2011. 

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What is the penalty for bidding without a license?

A contractor who contracts or offers to engage without a license or proper classification and monetary limit is in violation of the law, T.C.A. §62-6-101, et. al.  Further, 62-6-120 makes it inelgible to be awarded the project; may not receive license for up to six (6) months; cannot participate in any rebidding of the project; and subject to civil penalties. A complete of list of monetary fines is listed in the rules, which may be found in Laws and Rules.