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General Contractor Licensing in South Carolina

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The State of South Carolina regulates their construction industry by requiring any contractor performing work on a project worth $30,000 or more to hold a license.  The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations Contractor’s Licensing Board is responsible for reviewing applications and issuing licenses.  In order to become a licensed general contractor in the State of South Carolina, applicants are required to submit an application and pass a qualifying exam.

*The Department encourages anyone applying for or renewing their general contractor’s license to use online services whenever possible.  As of May, 2011, there is a $25 fee for any contractor using “in person” services to apply for or renew their license.
*In some cases the examination may be waivered, depending on the contractor’s situation.  For more information, please visit:

http://www.llr.state.sc.us/pol/contractors/index.asp?file=CLB%20How%20to%20apply.htm

License Classifications and Groups in South Carolina

South Carolina offers two different license classifications for general contractors.  There are also many different sub-classifications, depending on the contractor’s area of expertise, such as masonry or roofing.  The two main classifications include:

  1. Limited License- limits contractors to working on buildings under 3 stories in height.  Contractors are also limited to working on jobs worth $350,000 or less, depending on their net worth.
  2. Unlimited License- allows contractors to work on any project; however the job value is determined by the contractor’s net worth

Each license classification is then broken down into groups depending on the contractor’s net worth.  Ultimately, the contractor’s net worth determines the size of the job they may contract.  For example:

Group Job Limit Required Net Worth
Group One $30,000 $6,000
Group Two $100,000 $20,000
Group Three $350,000 $70,000
Group Four $750,000 $150,000
Group Five Unlimited $250,000

Contractors applying for a limited license are only able to apply for groups one, two and three.  Those applying for an unlimited license may apply for any group as long as they meet the net worth requirement.

*Those applying for groups one and two are able to prepare their own financial statement, proving their net worth.  All other groups must have their financial statement prepared for them by a CPA or PA in the State of South Carolina

Process to Obtain a General Contractor’s License in South Carolina

  1. Applicants must have 2 years of hands-on general contracting experience as a full time employee.
  2. Applicants must download a copy of the application (Doc #165) and a copy of the SC Code of Laws Take Home Exam (Doc #170).  If the applicant is applying for group one or two, they must also download a copy of the financial statement balance sheet (Doc #172).
  3. Applicants must prepare a financial statement themselves, or have a financial statement prepared for them by a CPA or PA in South Carolina, depending on the Group they are applying for.
  4. Applicants must register to take the Technical and Business Management/Law exams.
  5. Applicants must pass both portions of the exam with a score of at least 70%.
  6. Applicants must complete the Take-Home Exam and fill out the experience affidavit.
  7. Applicants must submit their application along with any required documents and fees to the South Carolina Contractor’s Licensing Board
*Corporations, partnerships, LLCs and LLPs have the added task of registering their business with the South Carolina Secretary of State.

Work Experience Requirement

The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation requires that all applicants have at least 2 years of hands-on work experience in the field of general contracting.  When applying for a sub-classification, such as roofing or masonry, applicants must have experience in that area of expertise.

Experience must be within the past 5 years as full-time work.  Applicants are required to submit a work experience affidavit as part of their application.  More information about how to prove work experience is found on the Work Experience Affidavit located inside the application packet.

Preparing to Submit an Application

To download a copy of the application, click on the link below and look for the bold heading that says “General and Mechanical Forms.”  Click on the blue text that says “Document #165.”  The application (Doc #165) is available as both a pdf or a word file:

http://llr.state.sc.us/pol/contractors/index.asp?file=pub.htm

Print out a copy of the application (Doc #165) and a copy of the SC Code of Laws Take Home Exam (Doc #170).

If the contractor is applying for a Limited License or if they qualify for Groups One or Two based on their net worth, they should also print a copy of the financial statement (Doc #172).  Click on the blue text that says “Document #172.”

*It is also a good idea to print a copy of articles and regulations as study references.  Links to these documents are also found in the above link.

The Department asks contractors to prove that they are financially responsible by submitting a financial statement along with their application.  Financial Statements should be submitted as follows:

  • Groups One and Two – must fill out and prepare the financial statement (Doc #172) themselves and have it notarized
  • Groups Three and Four – must go  to a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Public Accountant (PA) in South Carolina and have them prepare a compiled financial statement
  • Group Five – must go Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Public Accountant (PA) in South Carolina and have them prepare an audited financial statement

Financial statements need to be current and no more than 12 months old at the time the contractor submits their application.  The financial statement must be in the exact name of the applicant, as they plan to conduct their business.  For example, partnerships, corporations, LLCs and LLPs must apply and have their financial statement prepared using their business name.

Fill out the Work Experience Affidavit located inside the application packet (Doc #165).  Be sure to include all requested information concerning the applicant’s previous work experience related to general contracting.

Corporations, partnerships, LLCs and LLPs must also register their business with the South Carolina Secretary of State.  For additional information, please visit:

https://www.scsos.com/

Registering for and Scheduling the Examination

Before the applicant may submit their completed license application (Doc #165) they must register for and take both portions of the exam.  The exam is administered by PSI Services.  It is a 2-part exam covering:

  1. Technical- 4 to 5 ½ hour exam covering the trade of general contracting or any other specialty sub-classifications, such as roofing or masonry
  2. Business Management/ Law- 2 hour exam covering laws and regulations related the business of general contracting in South Carolina

To register for the exam, applicants need a copy for the PSI Candidate Information Bulletin. To print a copy of the Bulletin, click the link below and look under the bold heading that says “General and Mechanical Forms.”  Click the blue text that says “PSI Candidate Information Bulletin.”

http://llr.state.sc.us/pol/contractors/index.asp?file=pub.htm

Inside the PSI Candidate Information Bulletin is a copy of the exam registration form.  Applicants may register for the exam ONE of the following ways:

  • Online- go to the PSI website and follow the link for new user registration: www.psiexams.com
  • By Phone- call PSI and use their automated system 24 hours a day.  Representative are standing by to assist callers during regular business hours:
    (800) 733-9267
  • Fax- when registering by fax, allow 4 business days for processing.  Fax the registration form and payment information to:
    (702) 932-2666.
  • By mail: allow approximately 2 weeks for processing when submitting the exam registration form by mail.  Complete the exam registration form from the Candidate Information Bulletin.  Mail the registration form and payment to:

    PSI Licensure: Certification
    3210 E Tropicana
    Las Vegas, NV 89121

There is a $75 fee to take the Business Management/Law portion of the exam.  The Trade Exam portion of the test costs $75 when applying for a Limited License and $106 when applying for an Unlimited License.

PSI accepts payments in the form of:

  • Cashier’s Check or Money Order may payable to “PSI.”
  • Visa or Mastercard when applying online or by phone or fax

Once PSI accepts the exam registration, it is the applicant’s responsibility to call PSI to schedule their exam once they have registered.   To schedule an exam, call PSI at:  (800) 733-9267

Testing Centers are located in:

  • Greenville/Spartanburg
  • Columbia
  • Charleston
  • Beaufort/Hilton Head
  • Myrtle Beach
  • Charlotte
*Businesses may choose a qualifying party, to represent the company, to register for and take the exam.  The person that the business chooses must be a full-time employee within the business who holds a responsible management position in the company.

The Examination

On the day of the test, examinees should arrive at least 30 minutes for before their scheduled exam to allow time for check-in.  They are also required to bring 2 forms of identification:

  1. A government issued photo id with the examinee’s signature; such as a driver’s license or passport
  2. Another form of identification with the examinee’s name and signature; such as a credit card or debit card.

A minimum score of 70% is needed on both portions of the exam in order to pass.  Examinees will receive their score on the day of the exam before they leave the testing center.  It is important to keep the exam score report sheet.  This sheet must be submitted along with the application.

Applicants have one year from the time that they register to take and pass the exam.  If the contractor fails the exam they must submit a new exam registration and fee.  More information about exam re-takes is found in the PSI Candidate Information Bulletin:

https://candidate.psiexams.com/bulletin/display_bulletin.jsp?ro=yes&actionname=83&bulletinid=103&bulletinurl=.pdf

Once the contractor has passed both portions of the exam, they must take and fill out the SC Code of Laws Take Home Exam (Doc #170).  The take-home exam answer sheet and signature page must be submitted along with the application.

Submitting an Application

Once the applicant has taken and passed both portions of exam, it is time to submit the application.  Applicants should make copies of the application and any supporting documents to keep for their records.

There is an application fee.  Contractors should pay the appropriate fee depending the date that they submit their application:

Date Range Application Fee
Application submitted between 08/01/2013 and 07/31/2014 $175
Application submitted between 08/01/2014 and 07/31/2015 $350
Application submitted between 08/01/2015 and 07/31/2016 $350

The Licensing Board accepts payments in the form of check or money order made out to “SCCLB.”  This payment should be submitted along with the application.

Along with the completed application, be sure to send:

  • Financial Statement
  • Experience Affidavit
  • Exam Score Sheet
  • Take-Home Exam answer sheet and signature page
  • Appropriate Fee
  • Registration with the SC Secretary of State if applying as a partnership, corporation, LLC or LLP

When mailing the application, it is a good idea to use a traceable mailing service, such as Priority Mail or FedEx.  Mail the application, documents and fee, use the following addresses:

Overnight Mail South Carolina Contractor’s Licensing Board
P.O. Box 11329
Columbia, SC 29211
Regular Mail South Carolina Contractor’s Licensing Board
110 Centerview Drive
Columbia, SC 29210

The Licensing Board will contact the applicant if there is any missing or further information needed.  Once the Licensing Board approves the application, they will send the contractor their license in the mail.

Contractors can check the status of their application by visiting:

https://verify.llronline.com/LicLookup/

How Long is a South Carolina General Contractor’s License Valid?

General Contractor’s licenses are valid for 2 years in the State of South Carolina.  Licenses expire every October 31st of an even numbered year, for example, 2014.  Two months before the license expires, the Licensing Board will send the contractor a renewal notice.  Licenses may be renewed online.

There is a renewal fee of $350.  Additional charges are added for any contractor who allows their license to pass the expiration date without renewal.  Late fees are charged as follows:

  • 30 days past expiration- additional $100
  • 60 days past expiration- additional $150
  • 90 days past expiration- additional $200

It is important to respond the renewal notice immediately to allow time for processing.  The Licensing Board does not send out second notices for renewal.

Table of Fees

FEE WHAT IS IT FOR? WHEN IS IT DUE?
$75 Business Management / Law Exam Upon registering for the exam
$75 Technical Exam for those applying for Limited License Upon registering for the exam
$106 Technical Exam for those applying for an Unlimited License Upon registering for the exam
$175 Application Fee when applying between 08/01/2013 and 07/31/2014 Upon submitting the application
$350 Application Fee when applying between 08/01/2014 and 07/31/2015 Upon submitting the application
$350 Application Fee when applying between 08/01/2015 and 07/31/2016 Upon submitting the application
$350 Renewal Fee Upon submitting the license renewal form