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ALERTS:

As of July 1, 2008 a majority of contractors performing residential or general contracting work must have a professional license issued by the Georgia Secretary of State's office to pull permits to begin new work in Georgia.

View a video message from Georgia's Secretary of State Karen Handel concerning contractor licensure.

Read June 27, 2008 notice from Handel concerning contractor licensure.

List of Specialty Contractor Trades Exempt from obtaining a Georgia Contractor License.

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The SOS's office begins issuing license numbers and mailing license packets the first week of May 2008 to all contractors who have been approved for licensure by the State Residential and General Contractor Licensing Board.

Per the contractor portion of the SOS website, if a contractor does not receive their license by Thursday, May 15, 2008, please contact the State Residential and General Contractor Licensing Board at 478-207-2440.

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Governor Perdue signs SB 115 into law on May 30, 2007. This bill extends the enforcement/implementation date for contractor licensure from January 1, 2008 to July 1, 2008.

Contractors have until July 1, 2008 to satisfy all requirements by the State Residential and General Contractor Licensing Board to become licensed and be able to continue business operations in Georgia.

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The Georgia Secretary of State's office is accepting licensure applications from all contractors at this time.

If you have not applied for licensure as an individual/sole proprietor or a qualifying agent on behalf of your firm, you may do so by visiting the Georgia Secretary of State's website. If you are a representative of a business entity and want to apply for the highest division of licensure, the General Contractor level, you need to complete the General Contractor Examination for Qualifying Agent Application. For all other applications, please click here.

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Georgia’s residential and general contractor licensing law represents a multi- year industry-wide effort to raise the bar for practice and to stop the proliferation of local license requirements within the state. As the enforcement date of July 1, 2008 draws near, please know there are many things contractors need to be doing to prepare for licensure.

The Georgia Branch, AGC staff fields many calls and emails on this new law. Below is our attempt to identify the most frequently asked questions we have received.

Once you review the following information, should you still have a question, please EMAIL Alyson Abercrombie at abercrombie@agcga.org.

The licensing law board continues to meet to promulgate rules for the enforcement of the new law. As new information becomes available, it will be posted on this site.

Below are additional resources available through Georgia Branch, AGC and the Secretary of State’s office that are important to you as you learn the steps you need to take to apply for contractor licensure.  

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NOTE: Application forms can be updated by the Secretary of State's office at any time. Please visit the below links to print a current copy of the contractor licensure applications. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions compiled by Georgia Branch, AGC

Statewide Application (Group A)

Boards Rules & Fees (Group B)

Scope of Practice (Group C)

Owner, Handyman & Other Exemptions (Group D)

Eligibility/Experience Requirements for Practice (Group E)

Provisions for Reciprocity & Examination Exemption (Group F)

Provisions for Sole Proprietor/Qualifying Agent for Business (Group G)

 

 

  

 

 

 

  

 

 

Statewide Application (Group A)

1) Does this legislation preempt local license requirements?

Yes. Local governments cannot restrict the practice of a contractor licensed under this chapter within the scope of the contractor's statewide license.

 

 

 2) What if a local requirement is more stringent than the state licensing law? 

A local government can only regulate those areas not addressed by the state law. For example, they could license construction repair work, specialty work, such as roofing, painting etc… and small construction jobs up to the $2,500 threshold. However, local jurisdictions that have license requirements in place as of July 1, 2004 that are as stringent as state requirement may continue to license locally if an individual license holder only chooses to operate in that jurisdiction.   

 

 

3) How do I obtain a state license?

To obtain a state license as a Residential-Basic; Residential-Light Commercial or General Contractor, you must:

  • Submit a completed application for licensure, a non-refundable fee, and all the supporting documents requested within the application, along with submitting to and passing an examination required for the particular license. See Applications

For copies of the various rules, forms and applications visit the Secretary of State’s website for the new contractors licensing board at and see Board Rules: (553-2-.01 -- 553-2-.13); (53-3-.01 -- 553-3-.06) and (553-4-.01 -- 553-4-.04).

 

 

4) How can I receive an application?

 

 

You can download an application from the Secretary of State's website, or contact the Secretary of State’s Office to request such.

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Boards Rules & Fees (Group B)

1) What are the required fees for a license?

The initial application fee is $200. Additional fees for examination and renewal will be established in the future. When established, the information will be listed on this site and through the Secretary of State’s Website.  

 

 

 2) How often does the certificate/license have to be renewed?

Every two calendar years. The board will not issue or recognize individual anniversary dates. The exact dates for license issuance and expiration have not yet been determined.

 

 

3) When does the new licensure requirement take effect?

The new law creating the Board and setting forth licensure requirements for residential and general contractors went into effect July 1, 2005. However, the date a license is actually required for practicing as a contractor in Georgia is July 1, 2008. Listed below are the important dates and time-line for implementation. 

Time Line for General & Residential Contractor Licensing

  • 6/2004 - Governor Perdue signed HB 1003 into law, paving the way for contractor licensure. The law didn't not become effective until funding was secured
  • 5/9/2005 - Governor Perdue signed SB 124 into law.
  • 7/1/2005 - The new general & residential contractor license law became effective, and the Governor appointed the new 14 member board
  • 8/1/2005 - The new licensing board met to begin developing board rules
  • 1/1/2006 - Licensing Board began accepting applications from parties that are eligible for examination exemption under grandfathering & intrastate reciprocity
  • 4/20/2006 - Governor Perdue signed HB 1542 into law extending the examination exemption application submission deadline to December 31, 2006 and extending the implementation deadline to January 1, 2008. SEE BELOW FOR ADDITIONAL EXTENSION.
  • 12/31/2006 - Deadline for eligible candidates to submit application for exam exemption under grandfathering & intrastate reciprocity
  • Note: The states that will be eligible for reciprocal license arrangements have yet to be determined, however, the law requires candidate states to also reciprocate with Georgia contractors. For example: The State of Florida does not reciprocate with other state programs, and therefore would not be eligible for reciprocity with Georgia.
  • 5/30/07 - Governor signs SB 115 into law extending the implementation deadline to July 1, 2008.
  • 7/1/2008 - The law becomes fully enforceable and is required as a condition of doing business in the state of Georgia. No building permits will be issued to unlicensed contractors performing residential or general contracting in the state of Georgia after this date.

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Scope of Practice (Group C)

1) Who is required to hold a license from the Residential and General Contractor Licensing Board? 

Individuals and/or companies providing construction services within any of the three classifications of licensure (Residential-Basic, Residential-Light Commercial & General Contractor)

>Residential-Basic OCGA 43-41-2 (¶ 9 & 10)

One and two family residences and one family townhouses not over three stories in height for work over $2,500.00. However, work requiring a license under 43-14 must be done under subcontract by appropriately licensed electrical, plumbing, mechanical, utility or low voltage contractor.

>Residential-Light Commercial OCGA 43-41-2 (¶ 9 & 11)

Includes all within the “residential-basic” category plus multi-family, multi-use or commercial buildings up to 25,000 sq. ft aggregate interior floor space, not more than 3 stories in height, constructed of wood frame or light gauge metal frame, brick veneer, prefabricated or manufactured type construction, and pre-engineered metal buildings up to 50,000, sq. ft., all subject to specified Life Safety Code exceptions in OCGA 25-2-13. However, work requiring a license under 43-14 must be done under subcontract by appropriately licensed electrical, plumbing, mechanical, utility or low voltage contractor.

>General Contracting OCGA 43-41-2(¶ 5)

An unlimited category of any prime contract construction work by a contractor, including all commercial, industrial and public works and construction management and design-build, including all work encompassed by the two residential contracting activities. However, work requiring a license under 43-14 must be done under subcontract by appropriately licensed electrical, plumbing, mechanical, utility or low voltage contractor.

 

 

 2) Can a licensed general contractor perform work within the residential classifications? 

Yes. There are three categories of license (residential-basic, residential-light commercial and general contractor). The residential-basic can only do work within that category, residential light commercial can do work in light commercial and residential basic, and the general contractor can do work in all three classifications of licensure.

 

 

3) Are there any project size limitations based upon the contract amount of the project within each category of licensure? 

No. The limitations within the categories are based upon number of floors/stories, square footage, and project type (occupancy classification). The general contractor category is unlimited. Please note specified Life Safety Codes in OCGA 25-2-13.

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Owner, Handyman & Other Exemptions (Group D)

1) Will I still be able to build my own house or commercial project under this legislation without having to be licensed? 

Yes. Owners can build their own homes or facilities for their own use and not for use by the general public. However, if an owner builds and before the two-year anniversary of receiving the CO, sells his own home or facility, he will not be able to build another project for a period of two years after the date of sale, unless he obtains a license or hires someone who is licensed. 

 

 

 2) Will this legislation put the handyman out of business? 

No. The threshold for residential contracting is $2,500. Work costing less than $2,500 does not require the services of a licensed contractor. In addition, there are a number of exemptions to the licensure requirements.

>Repair Exemption

Construction repair work does not require the services of a licensed contractor, unless the repair impacts the structural integrity of the property. The repair work must be performed by the individual handyman or individual repair company.

>Specialty Contractor Exemption

Specialty Contractors that are not licensed under 43-14 that perform a limited scope of work tied to that trade or specialty (ex; roofing, painting, dry wall, etc.) shall not be required to be licensed as residential or general contractors.

>Licensed subcontractors under 43-14 (Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing & Utility)

These specialty trades may bid as prime contractors for work outside their scope if it does not exceed 25% of total project cost.

>Barn/Agricultural Use Buildings Exemption

Buildings that are constructed for agricultural storage use are exempt from this legislation.

>DOT Pre-qualified contractors

These contractors are exempt from the licensing requirements if performing highway related/type work.

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Eligibility/Experience Requirements for Practice (Group E)

1) What are the basic eligibility criteria for practice under this new law?

  • Residential Basic: At least 21 years of age, qualified as to competency, ability, and integrity, proven relevant work experience, general liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, social security number if applying as individual, federal tax ID number if qualifying as business,

 

  • Residential-Light Commercial: At least 21 years of age, qualified as to competency, ability, and integrity, proven relevant work experience or formal education, or combination of both, general liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, social security number if applying as individual, federal tax ID number, if qualifying as business, 

 

  • General Contractor: At least 21 years of age, qualified as to competency, ability, and integrity, proven relevant work experience or formal education, or combination of both, minimum net worth, general liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, social security number if applying as individual, federal tax ID number, if qualifying as business, verification of tax payments.

 

2) What are the educational or experience requirements to be licensed under this law as a:

  • Residential-Basic Contractor

An applicant shall be eligible for licensure as a residential-basic contractor by the residential contractor division if the person:

1) Has at least two years of proven experience working as/or in the employment of a residential contractor, predominantly in the residential-basic category, or other proven experience deemed substantially similar by the division; and

2) Has had significant responsibility for the successful performance and completion of at least two projects falling within the residential-basic category in the two years immediately preceding application.

  • Residential-Light Commercial

An applicant can qualify to practice as a Residential-Light Commercial Contractor either through formal education or through practical experience, or a combination of the two.

The options are as follows:

1) Has received a baccalaureate degree from an accredited four-year college or university in the field of engineering, architecture, construction management, building construction, or other field acceptable to the division and has at least one year of proven experience working as/or in the employment of a residential contractor, general contractor, or other proven experience deemed substantially similar by the division;

2) Has a combination acceptable to the division of academic credits from any accredited college-level courses and proven practical experience working as/or in the employment of a residential contractor, general contractor, or other proven experience deemed substantially similar by the division equaling at least four years in the aggregate. For purposes of this subparagraph, all university, college, junior college, or community college level courses shall be considered accredited college-level courses; or

3) Has a total of at least four years of proven active experience working in a construction industry related field, at least two of which shall have been as/or in the employment of a residential contractor, or other proven experience deemed acceptable by the division; and

The applicant must have had significant responsibility for the successful performance and completion of at least two projects falling within the residence-light commercial category in the four years immediately preceding application.

  • General Contractor

    Individuals can qualify to practice as residential or general contractors either through formal education or through practical experience, or a combination of the two.

The options are as follows:

(1) Four-year degree from an accredited college or university in engineering, architecture, construction management, building construction or related-field acceptable to the Division and one year of work experience as or in the employment of a general contractor or other proven experience deemed substantially similar by the Division; or

(2) Combination of college-level academic accredited courses and proven practical experience working as or in the employment of a general contractor or other proven experience deemed substantially similar by the Division equaling at least four years in the aggregate; or

(3) Total of at least four years of proven active experience working in a construction industry related field, at least two of which shall have been as or in the employment of a general contractor, or other proven experience deemed acceptable by the Division and at least one of which shall have been in or relating to administration, marketing, accounting, estimating, drafting, engineering, supervision, or project management, or functions deemed substantially similar by the Division.

 

3) Is the net worth requirement only applicable to the general contractor license, or are all classifications required to have a minimum net worth established by the board? 

Only the General Contractor category requires a minimum net worth.

 

 

4) What is the minimum net worth requirement for general contractor licensure?

$150,000.00 - Sole Proprietors or Business Organizations with Qualifying Agent.

 

 

5) Are there any other financial requirements for any of the categories of licensure? 

Yes. The general contractor category requires a Line of Credit in a minimum amount of $50,000.

 

 

6) What are the insurance requirements under this new law? 

Candidates for licensure must show proof of a Certificate of Insurance in their name, or the name of the business organization, showing proof of workers compensation insurance, as required by Georgia law, and general liability insurance in following minimum amounts for each category of licensure. 

  • Residential Basic - $300,000
  • Residential Light Commercial - $500,000 
  • General Contractor - $500,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7) As the candidate for licensure and the Owner/President/CEO/top principal of my firm, can I sign my own Employment Affidavit or Employment/Project Affidavit (depending on category of licensure)?

Yes, your name will be in both places on the affidavit, as the contractor and as the applicant.

 

 

 

 

 

8) I want to submit for licensure as a General Contractor and I am having trouble receiving an official transcript from my former university or college that will meet the “official unsealed” provision of the state law. Is it necessary to include my transcript with my licensure application if I also meet the practical experience option outlined in the law?

No. If you meet the requirements of 43-41-6 (d) (3) (c), which is shown below, then your transcript is not needed to complete your application for licensure.

[Applicant] has a total of at least four years of proven active experience working in a construction industry related field, at least two of which shall have been as or in the employment of a general contractor, or other proven experience deemed acceptable by the division and at least one of which shall have been in or relating to administration, marketing, accounting, estimating, drafting, engineering, supervision, or project management, or functions deemed substantially similar by the division.  

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Provisions for Reciprocity & Examination Exemption (Group F)

1) Will all of those currently operating as contractors in Georgia be grandfathered in?

No. The law allows a one-time application period for a limited group of applicants to gain the license without taking the exam. All applicants wishing to practice as general or residential contractors must meet the required eligibility requirements, submit an application and pay the appropriate fees. This exemption phase closed December 31, 2006. It was subsequintly re-opened for a short window when Governor Perdue signed SB 115 into law May 2007. At this current time, examination exemption applications ARE NOT being accepted.

 

 

2) What were the provisions under which an examination exemption was allowed? - NOTE: This phase of the application process is n

Option 1) If the individual/business already holds a similar license issued by local Georgia jurisdiction in which the process for licensure is deemed substantially similar by the licensing board to the Georgia state law requirement (Note: The list of local programs that meet this requirement have not yet been determined. Do not assume that your local license will automatically allow you to qualify under this exemption), or

Option 2) If the business has had a regular office and place of business in Georgia currently and that such office has been operating continuously for the five years immediately preceding application, or

Option 3) If the individual/business is licensed by other state, which reciprocates with Georgia businesses operating in that state and the licensing requirements are deemed substantially similar by the licensing board. This list of eligible states has not yet been determined AND

  • For Residential-Basic OR Residential-Light Commercial
    The applicant shall be required to give evidence of three successful projects located in, Georgia, which were successfully completed over the period of five years immediately prior to the time of application; or

    The applicant shall be required to give evidence of ten successfully completed residential-basic or residential-light commercial projects located in Georgia over the period of ten years immediately prior to the time of application; or

    The applicant shall be required to give evidence that he or she has participated in or been engaged in residential-basic or residential-light commercial construction in a supervisory or management capacity for seven of the ten years immediately prior to the time of application.

 

  • For General Contractor
    The applicant shall be required to give evidence of five successful general contracting projects located in Georgia, which were successfully completed over the period of five years immediately prior to the time of application; or

    The applicant shall be required to give evidence of ten successful general contracting projects located in Georgia, which were successfully completed over the period of ten years immediately prior to the time of application.

 

 

3) Under the grandfathering provisions of the law, how did a contractor prove he had a regular office and held a place of business in Georgia and that such office had been operating continuously for the five years immediately preceding application? 

Candidates for licensure as Residential-Basic and Residential-Light Commercial had to show proof acceptable to the division that the corporation or business organization had operated continuously for five years immediately preceding application.

Candidates for licensure as a General Contractor under this provision had to submit a letter from a CPA attesting the business organization possessed a regular office and place of business in Georgia which had operated continuously for the five years immediately preceding application.

 

 

4) Under the grandfathering provisions in the law, how did a candidate prove successful past performance of projects in Georgia?

  • Residential-Basic and Residential-Light Commercial applicants had to provide evidence of one of the following:
    • The applicant shall be required to give evidence of three successful projects located in Georgia which were successfully completed over the period of five years immediately prior to the time of application; or
    • The applicant shall be required to give evidence of ten successfully completed residential-basic or residential-light commercial projects located in Georgia over the period of ten years immediately prior to the time of application; or
    • The applicant shall be required to give evidence that he or she has participated in or been engaged in residential-basic or residential-light commercial construction in a supervisory or management capacity for seven of the ten years immediately prior to the time of application.

In order to verify successful past performance, the applicant had to submit with their application copies of the building permits and certificates occupancy for each of the projects submitted. 

  • General Contractor
    Had to provide evidence of one of the following:
    • The applicant shall be required to give evidence of five successful projects in Georgia completed over the five years immediately preceding application submission; or
    • The applicant shall be required to give evidence of ten successfully completed general contracting projects located in Georgia over the ten years immediately preceding application submission.

In order to verify successful past performance, the applicant had to submit with their application a completed Secretary of State reference letter form, from a Georgia registered architect and the owner or owner’s representative for each project submitted.

 

 

5) I want to submit application under the grandfathering provisions as a qualifying agent for a business organization. The company has been building projects in Georgia for 20 years, but very recently went through a corporate restructuring and has only been operating under this new name for 2 years. Will we qualify for the grandfather provisions as a company with only 2 years under the current corporate name and structure?

No. If qualifying as a company, the company must have the documented five continuous years of operation under that company name and business structure. 

 

 

6) I am a licensed Specialty Subcontractor and have acted as prime on numerous projects in Georgia over the past 20 years. Do I qualify for the General Contractors license under the grandfathering provisions?

If you meet the appropriate eligibility requirements and your past experience as a prime contractor was in the capacity as a general contractor, versus work done under your scope of practice as a licensed specialty contractor. 

 

 

7) What is the deadline for a company to have been in operation in Georgia to qualify for the grandfathering examination exemption? 

The company must have been in business for 5 continuous years immediately preceding application. 

 

 

8) Will my out-of-state license be recognized in Georgia? 

The Board is still considering reciprocity with other states and when this is finalized, the states will be posted on the Secretary of State’s website and here at Georgia Branch, AGC. However, the law requires other potentially eligible states to reciprocate with Georgia contractors. For example, the state of Florida has previously not recognized other state license programs.

 

 

9) Will my Georgia license be accepted in another state? 

Maybe. The Georgia law definitely allows for reciprocity with other states. To contract legally in another state, you must meet their requirements. To determine the requirements of other states, you must contact the other state board directly.  

 

 

 

 

 

10) If I was granted the Georgia certificate without having to take the exam, will this hurt my chances of receiving a reciprocal license in another state? 

Reciprocal arrangements with other states have not yet been determined. However, being granted a license without exam may hurt your chances of receiving consideration in other states. As mentioned earlier, the Georgia law allows for reciprocal arrangements with other state programs that are deemed substantially similar to Georgia’s requirements. However, one of the criteria that Georgia law requires is the passage of a similar written exam. 

 

 

 

 

11) Candidates submitting for examination exemption under the general contractor category of licensing based upon a continuous Georgia presence for the past five years AND successful completion of 5 projects in 5 years or 10 projects in 10 years are required to submit an architect and owner letter of reference documenting said projects successful completion.  - - I have many projects that were successfully completed, but many of them have been finished without the services of an architect. Does the rule allow recognition of these projects and offer consideration since I cannot provide a letter of reference from an architect for some of my most recent projects? 

Yes. A prime example of this situation is with successful completion of a pre-engineered metal building. In this instance, the applicant would list their “architect projects” and include the appropriate letters of reference, and then list the “non-architect projects,” but still be sure to include a NOTARIZED explanation of why an architect reference letter cannot be provided for that/those submittal(s). For example: “I am unable to submit an architect letter of reference for State Park project ABC because the project was a ‘Butler’ pre-engineered metal building and its construction did not require the services of an architect.”  [Refer to Rules Section: 553-2-.10 for detail clarification]

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Provisions for Sole Proprietor/Qualifying Agent for Business (Group G)

1) Who holds the license the applicant, or the company? 

Applicants can qualify as sole proprietors, or they can be a qualifier for a business entity. If qualifying as a sole proprietor you do so based upon resources of the applicant. If qualifying a company, you do so based upon resources of company. The qualifier and the company are issued a license and the licensing board can discipline both.

 

 

 

2) Which of the two distinct applications within the General Contractor category of licensure should I apply under: as a qualifying agent, or as an individual

PLEASE NOTE: This response is for the general understanding of the difference between the two types of licensure available as a General Contractor. All situations are different and we urge you to consult with your CPA and attorney for further clarification if you are unsure of where your business fits. 

  • If your firm is set up as a corporation, LLC or any other type of business entity, other than a sole proprietorship, and the insurance, bonding, etc. are all in the company name rather than in one person's name, then you will most likely want to file for licensure as a qualifying agent for a company.
  • If you are doing business as John Smith Contracting and the insurance, bonding, etc. are all in your individual name, then most likely you will need to apply as an individual. If you apply this way, be aware that you are taking on personal liability for all actions you take as John Smith Contracting.

 

 

 

3) Can a business elect to have more than one qualifier? 

Yes. A business organization may elect to have more than one qualifying agent, all of whom are equally responsible under this chapter for their own conduct and for conduct of the business organization. Disciplinary actions and sanctions may be administered against a business in the same manner as against individual qualifiers.

 

 

 

4) In addition to the contractor license, what other requirements must I meet in order to open a business?

Businesses must meet the requirements of federal, state, and local governments. To determine federal and local requirements, you will need to contact those agencies directly. A listing should be available in the government section of your telephone directory. To obtain information on state agencies, reference the First Stop Business Information Center or contact the state directory assistance at 404-656-2000.

 

 

 5) Can an applicant qualify more than one company?

Yes, but you will carry the full liability of the activities of all companies you qualify.

 

 

6) If I already have been issued a license by the board, will I be required to submit application to qualify a second company or joint venture? 

Yes. You will be required to submit application, meet the eligibility requirements based upon application as a qualifier for a company or sole proprietor. However, if you have already passed the written exam, you will not be required to retake the exam to qualify the new company.

 

 

7) If I qualify for examination exemption under one business organization that meets the eligibility requirements, can I also then qualify other business organizations that did not meet the exemption qualifications without taking the exam? 

No, at least initially through January 1, 2006 – December 31, 2006. Any company that hopes to be eligible for exam exemption under this one-time application period must meet the criteria. After this initial one-time application period for exam exemption expires, an applicant may be able to qualify additional companies without exam that did not meet the original eligibility requirements. The law allows applicants who have taken the exam and been issued a license to qualify future or additional companies without the necessity of taking the exam again. The board has yet to address those situations were an applicant has been issued a license without taking the exam.

 

 

8) If a company loses its’ qualifier can it continue to operate until a replacement is put in place? 

Yes, but a company must notify the board within 45 days of losing its qualifier. The company will be granted 120 days to complete work that is already under contract or bid for additional work during this time frame without a qualifier. However, after 120 days the company must have submitted a qualifier application to the board for consideration. Failure to do so within the 120 days will prevent the company from continued operation. 

 

9) Can the company bid on work without a qualifier during the 120 day grace period? 

Yes. As long as the Board is notified of change in status within 45 days of losing its qualifier and receives a new qualifier application within 120 days, the submission of such application shall serve to maintain the licensed status. 

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