All You Need to Know About Handyman Licenses and Laws

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If you’re considering becoming a handyman or contractor or even starting your own contracting business, the first step is to understand the handyman licenses and laws that apply in your city or state. Why? Because in a blink of an eye, your business could get shut down. At the bare minimum, you’ll get fined.

If it’s that severe, why aren’t these permit requirements widely known? Because they aren’t very straightforward when it comes to handyman and contractor license requirements, and they vary from one place to another.

In this article, I’ll introduce you to all you need to know about the license requirements you need to fulfill before thinking about starting a handyman business.

What Is the Difference Between a Contractor and a Handyman?

First things first, you need to identify whether you’re a home contractor or a handyman according to your state’s requirements.

As a rule of thumb, handyman services include relatively smaller jobs, like quick repairs and fixes under a specific budget, and they differ according to the state. Contractors handle bigger projects, like commercial or residential contracting.

Essentially, contracting work involves bidding rather than a fixed dollar amount. And contractors usually specialize in specific work, like plumbing, electrical, gas, hazardous waste remediation, HVAC, and similar.

What Can a Handyman Do Without a License?

In Canada, handymen workers can perform general services under $500 that could otherwise be done by the homeowner. Without a business license, you’re restricted in services you can offer, but here they are:

  • Minor electrical work
  • Repairing leaky faucets or basic plumbing projects
  • Replacing a broken garbage disposal unit
  • Drywall repair
  • Hanging shelves
  • Home theatre wiring
  • Installing registers
  • Installing a kitchen sink

For larger projects, you’ll be classified as a general contractor rather than a handyman, requiring a contractor license. For instance, you may require a master electrician license if you plan on taking on electrical jobs for home improvements.

What Licenses Are Needed to Start a Handyman Business?

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s discuss the licensing rules and requirements for handyman work. In Canada, handymen need to have a handyman license for any job above $500, while in Arizona state, for example, the amount is $750. Other states require a handyman license regardless, like Texas. Best is to do your research wherever you are located.

Some places also take other factors into account, like liability coverage for repair work. As a handyman, you may be required to have liability insurance to protect your business against lawsuits from damage to customers’ properties during a project or service.

Also, be cautious about how you advertise your project or business name. If you’re operating without a handyman license, some places oblige you to state that in your marketing content.

Getting stung by the board is nowhere near fun, so make sure to take time to really understand the laws relating to the handymen service and its license perfectly!

Steps to Know the Laws of Handyman Services:

To give you some help, here are the exact steps you’ll need to take to understand the licensing requirements for handyman services, regardless of your location.

1. Check the Internet

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the board of the state contractors’ website should always be your top source for business permits and licensing requirements. Search by the keywords “your state contractors’ board,” and you’ll usually find it the first result. 

Alternatively, if licensing laws are managed by your city instead, try adding your location or city next to your internet search query, targeting phrases like handyman exemption, construction law, and state licensing boards. 

In Canada, for example, there’s a service called “BizPal” that requires you to answer a set of questions about your handyman business idea and then proceed to provide you with a list of handyman license and permit options that you could obtain to start operating. Make sure to select your province correctly from the beginning. 

For reference, upon selecting Vancouver, you know that you can get an inter-municipal business license that allows you to do business in Burnaby, Delta, New Westminster, Richmond, Surrey, and Vancouver. The tool goes as far as providing you with the forms on the spot and even telling you the exact cost of obtaining the permit or handyman license.

Once you’ve found a trusted resource, read about the laws in detail, and understand the different categories and the information under them. Also, look for what can and can’t be done without a contractor license or handyman license. 

2. Seek a Lawyer

Since some license requirements relating to the handyman business can be challenging to understand, do your best not to leave anything up to your interpretation. It’s best to talk to a lawyer to get a legal opinion. Their experience in handling fines and cases will undoubtedly come in handy to help answer your questions.

3. Talk to Other Handyman Business Companies 

Handyman business owners are the people who will help you the most. That’s especially true if they’ve been in the business for some time. They’ll give insight and tips on previous occurrences to put you on the right track regarding your license.

Avoid Getting Stung!

Now that you know it all, you should do all it takes to avoid getting stung. Yes, the handyman license process and laws can be quite discouraging and seem like a hassle, but you’ll thank yourself later once you’re done.

Law enforcement employees take handyman work and license requirements more seriously than you would imagine, and they have their ways of knowing what you’re up to through routine sweeps. To be on the safe side, get a handyman license, and always know your license number by heart. That’s the very first step to becoming a top-rated handyman!

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