So you want to start a contracting business - here’s what you need to do before signing your first contract.
A lot of good comes from a little elbow grease, and setting up a general contracting business in Kansas is no different. Starting a handyman business takes a little bit of time and effort, and today we’re exploring how to get a contractor’s license in Kansas. Ready to roll up your sleeves and get started?
Why Do I Need a Kansas Contractor’s License?
I can practically hear you asking if you actually need a Kansas contractor’s license, and the answer is yes. If you plan on making money as a contractor, whether you work on general or specialty projects, you’ll need to go through the licensing process we cover in this post.
Why? Licensure laws hold everyone in the state to the same knowledge and safety standards. The state of Kansas doesn’t want just anybody driving a car. Similarly, they don’t want unprepared people wielding power tools or selling contracting to unsuspecting citizens. Business licenses usually require passing an exam and may have requirements for hands-on experience. It may seem like one more hurdle standing between you and starting your business, but licenses help maintain the reputation of general contractors.
Required business licenses protect citizens from getting ripped off by shady contractors, and business insurance protects contractors and their belongings. If you or your team cause property damage or bodily injury on a job site, a homeowner may come after you for damages. Your personal bank account will be protected, though, because you’ll have general liability insurance.
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Steps to Get a General Contractor License in Kansas
So you need a general contractor license in Kansas to open up the business you’ve been dreaming of. What now?
Contact your County Clerk or City Clerk
Every state handles contractor licensing a little differently, and the state of Kansas doesn’t handle that at all. No, I don’t mean there’s no licensing process to worry about. There may not be any state-wide licenses for general contractors, but there are county or city requirements.
Each county or city across the state makes its own rules about general or specialty contracting licenses. Therefore, the best way to get accurate information is to search for your County Clerk or City Clerk.
Some local differences you may encounter include:
- Different application fees
- Varied bond amounts
- Required insurance variability
- Experience or certification requirements
General requirements for licensure
We won’t list requirements for every specialty across every county (your computer would hate to load a page like that), but we can cover typical requirements. Here are documents or conditions you’ll likely need to apply for a Kansas contractor’s license.
Business registration. If you’re planning to set up an LLC or corporation, you’ll have to do so before applying. You can learn about registering a Kansas business here.
Passing an exam. While a plumber in Sedgwick county and a general contractor in Topeka will have different license requirements, they’ll probably both have an assessment. Education, experience, and exams will vary, but you’re probably going to have to take a test.
General liability insurance. Required insurance amounts vary, but it’s very common for contractors to need to show proof of general liability insurance when they apply for a license.
Financial solvency/bond. If you fail to complete work on a contract, homeowners may be able to work through the state to get payments from you. That’s why you may need to have a bond to prove those types of fees will be paid.
Worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance. Companies that have employees have a few more obligations when applying than sole proprietors do. You can learn about Kansas employer requirements here.
Special steps for Wichita
If you’re a general contractor in Wichita, you’ll apply for a license with Sedgwick County. Here are a few important notes about getting a license in Wichita.
You’ll need a trade certificate. A trade certificate verifies your education and experience. You’ll need to fill out this application and be approved before submitting your license application.
Special steps for Overland Park and Olathe
Want to get a Kansas contractor’s license in Overland Park or Olathe? Then you’ll check requirements and submit applications to Johnson County. A few things to note about licenses in Johnson County:
There are ten types of licenses. You’ll fill out the same application and pay the same fees, but the test required for each license vary. The license types are:
- Class A - General
- Class B - Building
- Class C - Residential
- Class DE - Electrical
- Class DF - Fire
- Class DM - Mechanical
- Class DP - Plumbing
- Class DR - Roofing
- Class DS - Swimming
- Class DW - Framing
You’ll need “qualifying individual” documentation. Having a “qualified individual” is pretty standard when it comes to contractor licensing. This is simply the person who represents a company and actually received the license. This is an owner or partner, and you’ll need to supply a photo I.D. and proof of experience.
Special steps for Kansas City
In some parts of the state, general contractor licensing is handled at the county level. However, Kansas City makes the rules for contractors in town. Here are a couple ways Kansas City requirements vary:
There are license categories and classes. In addition to having licenses for different specialties, Kansas City offers licenses of different levels. For example, a Demolition Contractor Class II can only demolish structures up to three stories. On the other hand, a Demolition Contractor Class I can tear down any building or structure regardless of height.
Some licenses require cash deposits. We talked about bonds earlier in the post, but some contractors in Kansas City have additional financial obligations. Fire Protection Class I and II, along with Plumbing Contractors, will need to post a $500 cash deposit before they can get their license.
If you still have some Kansas contractor license questions unanswered, check with your County or City Clerk. You can find them on the Kansas Business Center 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.
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