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How to Get a Michigan Builders License

3-minute read

Michigan builder in navy sweatshirt measuring a piece of wood with a tape measure and marking it with pencil
Kat Ambrose

Kat Ambrose

2 December 2019

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Want to become a licensed contractor, handyman, or home renovator in Michigan, but you’re not sure how to get started?

There's no other way to say it: getting your Michigan builders license (sometimes called a Michigan contractor license) is a bit of a complicated process. Or at least it may seem that way. From pre-licensure courses to figuring out what license you should apply for, there are a lot of moving parts to this process.

Luckily, we did all the digging around for you and created this guide to help streamline the process. In this guide, we tell you everything you need to know about becoming a licensed contractor in the state of Michigan.

So you can spend less time figuring out what license to apply for or what pre-licensure courses you need to take and more time and more time growing your business.

Ready to get started? Let's jump in.

Who Needs a Builders License in Michigan?

If you plan to work on projects valued at more than $600, you'll need either a residential builders license or a maintenance and alterations contractor license (more on each of those below).

How do You Get a Builders License in Michigan?

Before we dive into the details on how to apply for your contractor's license, let's talk about a few things you need to be aware of beforehand.

In Michigan, the license you apply for will entirely depend on the scope of the projects you plan to take on as well as the total value of those projects. Not to add to the complexity, but depending on the criteria, your license may be handled at the state or the local level. We'll discuss those details in more depth later on.

Below are a few other essential things to note:

  • All contractors will have to register with the Michigan Department of the Treasury
  • Any project over $600 requires a residential builder's license or a maintenance and alteration contractor's license. These licenses must be obtained through the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs department and are regulated at the state level.
  • There are pre-licensure courses that all applicants must take, such as The Michigan Residential Code, Contracts, Liability, and Risk Management, Marketing and Sales, and more.

What Does a Michigan Builders License Allow You to do?

There are three types of general contractor's licenses you can apply for. Each one allows you to perform specific types of work.

1. Michigan Builders License

This license is for contractors who wish to do any sort of contracting work on either a residential or a combination of residential and commercial buildings. This license covers demolition, home improvement, replacement, alterations, and repairs.

2. Michigan Maintenance and Alteration Contractors License

The following trades are covered under this license:

  • Carpentry
  • Concrete
  • Excavation
  • Insulation Work
  • Masonry
  • Painting and Decorating
  • Siding
  • Roofing
  • Screen and Storm Sash
  • Gutters
  • Tile and Marble
  • House Wrecking
  • Swimming Pools
  • Basement Waterproofing

Whether you choose to be a residential or maintenance and alteration contractor, you'll fill out the same form. For more details on the details between the two types of licenses, check out the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Licenses and Requirements website.

3. Michigan Commercial Builders License

This builders license is different from the other two in that the state does not govern it. If you want to work on school buildings, offices, and other commercial buildings, this license will go through your municipality.

What Are the Licensure Requirements?

Now that we've covered the types of licenses you can apply for, let's discuss the requirements. Depending on the license you want to pursue, the Michigan builders license application requirements may vary, but generally, all applicants need to meet the following:

  • You must be 18+ years old
  • You must have a valid Michigan driver's license
  • You have to complete 60 hours of pre-licensure courses
  • You must pass your residential or maintenance and alteration contractor exam
  • You have to pay all application and license fees

Approved pre-licensure courses

As I mentioned above, one of the requirements for licensure is to take 60 hours of approved courses. There are several you can take that range from marketing and sales to MIOSHA Construction Safety Standards. To view all approved courses, check out the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website or call them at 517-373-8068.

How hard is the Michigan builders license test?

Part of the licensing application is to pass the contractor exam. In Michigan, all contractor exams are issued through PSI Exams. The exam varies in cost based on how many sections you need to take as required by your Michigan builders license criteria. You'll pay for this at the time of the exam.

Pay the associated fees

Lastly, you must pay the fee of $195—either in the form of a check or money order—with your application. If you're an Armed Forces Veteran, you may be eligible to have this fee waived at the time of the exam.

Applying for a MI Contractor’s License?

You may need to show proof of business insurance to get your license.

That’s where we come in. Compare free insurance quotes for policies as low as $19.58/month.*

Start Here >

Renewing your Michigan builders license

You can easily renew your contractor's license online. This guide from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs walks you through the online renewal process.

Renewal fees may vary based on your type of license.

Register Your Business With the Michigan Department of Treasury and Get Insured

A crucial step in the contractor's license application process is to register your business and to get insured. All applicants must register their business through the Michigan Department of Treasury. Luckily, this process can be done online, which is a huge time-saver.

If you have any questions about this process, visit their website or call (517) 636-4660.

Getting insured is one of the most responsible things you can do for your business. All private employers in Michigan are required to obtain Workers Compensation.

For a detailed breakdown of the exceptions and regulations, check out this resource from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Workers Compensation Agency.

Do you have questions about contractor's insurance in Michigan? Our team can help you figure out what you need to make sure you're covered and legal. You can also check out our guide on How to Start a Handyman Business for additional information.

*Monthly payment calculations (i) do not include initial premium down payment and (ii) may vary by state, insurance provider, and nature of your business. Averages based on January - March 2023 data of 10% of our total policies sold.

Kat Ambrose

Written by

Kat Ambrose

I’m a writer who specializes in creating value-packed blog content for eCommerce and SaaS companies and small businesses. When I'm not writing, I’m probably out running, checking out a thriller novel—or two—from the library, or trying to pet the nearest dog.

Kat writes on a number of topics such as small business administration and business license requirements.

This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer

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