Want to become a general contractor in West Virginia - but have no idea where to get started?
We’re here to help. Properly licensing and registering your contracting business is important. However, diving into the details on your state’s website can be overwhelming or downright confusing. Lucky for you, we opened all the tabs on our computer and sorted through the nitty-gritty details ourselves. The result? An easy-to-use guide that lays everything out about your West Virginia contractor’s license.
Why Do I Need a West Virginia Contractor’s License?
Do you even need a West Virginia general contractor license? If you plan on earning less than $2,500 for materials and labor on a contracting project, then you don’t have to worry about licensure. This will be the case if you’re a handyman who just wants to do a few odd jobs around the house. If, however, you plan on setting up a business and making more than that, you’ll need to get licensed.
Licensure laws require contractors to meet experience, education, or examination requirements before they can set up shop. Here are the contractor categories that require a license or certification in West Virginia:
- Contractor Licenses
- Crane Operator Certifications
- HVAC Technician Certifications
- Manufactured Housing Licenses
- Plumber Certifications
While the steps we get into below about how to get your West Virginia general contractor license might feel a little tedious, they do serve a purpose. You see, field inspectors for the state travel around performing inspections to make sure all the contractors in the state are following the licensing rules. If you’re caught working without a contracting license, you may be fined.
Aside from any legal woes, you may encounter if you don’t have a license, these state-level certification requirements keep the business environment healthy. If everyone is playing by the rules and being a trustworthy contractor, there’s a level playing field that leads to healthy competition. Plus, an unlicensed contractor that ruins a job or causes injury can lead to a negative reputation for the industry as a whole.
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Getting a West Virginia General Contractor License: What You Need to Know
There are a handful of steps you’ll need to take to get set up with your West Virginia general contractor license. We’ll explore them one at a time below so that checking items off your to-do list is a breeze.
Steps for specialty contractor licenses
The steps in this guide are focused on the general contractor license in West Virginia. If you’re a crane operator, HVAC technician, plumber, or manufactured housing builder, your exams, fees, and forms will be slightly different. The core licensing process is much the same between different kinds of contractors, but you should review specialty-specific information here.
Apply to take the license exam
The contractor exam is sort of like the gatekeeper for your West Virginia contractor’s license. Passing the exam means you get to move forward with your application, and eventually set up your business. Hold your pencils, though. Before diving into any tests, you have to determine which exams are required based on your intentions. To do this, send an email describing the kind of contracting work you’ll do to [email protected] to be matched with the appropriate exams.
Once you know which tests you need to take, you’ll schedule an exam time with ProV by contacting them at (866) 720-7768 or (304) 414-0190, Extension 3. If you’re self-employed, you’ll be the one taking the exam. However, if you have a company with multiple partners or employees, you may choose to have an officer, member, owner, or full-time employee take the test.
Get required insurance and registration
After passing your contractor licensing exam, there are still a few more ducks to get in a row. Here’s what else you’ll need to submit with your application.
Business registration tax number. Some states allow sole proprietor contractors to use their social security number for identification. West Virginia, however, requires a business registration tax number. If you don’t have one, you can apply online or contact the West Virginia State Tax Department at (304) 558-3333 or (800) 982-8297.
Registration with the Secretary of State. In addition to obtaining a business registration tax number, some companies need to be registered with the Secretary of State. First, you’ll need to talk to a Business Specialist at (866) 767-8683 or (304) 558-8000 to see if you need to register. If you do, head to www.business4wv.com.
Worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance. Have one or more employees? You’re going to need some insurance. Worker’s compensation insurance protects your business’ finances in the case of an injured employee. You’ll also have to supply proof of unemployment compensation. Questions about worker’s compensation can be answered by the West Virginia Insurance Commissioner’s Office at (304) 558-6279 Extension 1202. Or, call Workforce West Virginia at (304) 558-2451 for unemployment compensation questions.
Wage bonds. Here’s another requirement just for companies with one or more employees. The amount of a wage bond required is based on your company’s payroll, and you can verify your wage bond status with the Division of Labor – Wage & Hour Section at (304) 558-7890 or [email protected].
Submit your application and fee
Once you’ve passed your exam and secured your required registration and insurance, you’re in the home stretch. All that’s left is to fill out the contractor license application/affidavit. Once completed, send the application and the $90 fee as a check, cash, cashier’s check, or money order to:
West Virginia Contractor Licensing Board
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
State Capitol Complex
Building 3, Room 200
Charleston, WV 25305
Renew your license annually
Your West Virginia contractor’s license isn’t exactly a one-and-done process. You’ll have to renew every year by filling out a renewal form and paying the $90 fee. Luckily, the state will send you a reminder 30 days before your license will expire.
You’re also required to display your license at every work site as well as on advertisements and contracts.
Got more questions about getting your West Virginia contractor’s license? Find answers at the official West Virginia Division of Labor website.
If you still need to get general liability and worker’s comp insurance before you can apply, get a contractor’s insurance quote to ensure you’re covered. We also have a guide on How to Start a Handyman Business.
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