Maybe you’re just starting out as a handyman. Or maybe you’ve had your own handyman business for awhile, but you think it’s time to start expanding.
No matter what stage of the business you’re at, you’ll probably come across this pivotal question:
“What kind of handyman license do I need? And do I need to get business insurance?”
Get ready to finally find the answers to the above questions, because this article is about to explore:
That way, you can feel confident moving forward with your new handyman business!
Get more secrets on starting and growing your handyman business with our FREE guide!
It’s not exactly the most exciting question to ask yourself, but trust us - you’ll want to figure out if you need a business license ASAP.
Don’t worry, there’s nothing too complicated associated with this question, because the answer is most definitely YES. A handyman license shows that you’ve been vetted and tested by the state; plus, most customers will only want to work with a licensed handyman.
But what exactly is involved with the process of getting a license for your handyman business?
While each state has its own special requirements, follow these basic steps to get your handyman business licensed and ready to rock:
Check out your state’s specific requirements for getting licensed. In most cases, you’ll see that you need to apply for what’s known as a “contractors license.” This license is specific to industries that could be defined as a contractor, including:
In most states, you’ll be required to apply for a contractor license if you’re doing work over a certain project amount. For example, some states require handymen to have a license if they’re working on projects over $500, while others may only require a license if you’re doing client work over $1000.
It can be tough to find your state’s specific guidelines on applying for a contractor license, but luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you. Check out our state-by-state guide on applying for a contractor license. Just pick your state, read, and start applying - it’s that simple!
Find out if you’ll need one general license, or if you’ll need to be licensed in each specific area you specialize in.
Here’s why this is important: as a handyman, you probably consider yourself to be a jack of all trades. That means you can probably act as a builder, plumber, electrician, and more.
All this flexibility means that you might need more than one handyman license. Some states may require you to take out multiple contractor licenses depending on:
The type of work you specialize in The size of the projects you’re working on The monetary amount of those projects And more
Don’t forget, you can get more information about your specific state’s requirements at our state-based contractor license hub.
Get enough training to suit your state’s licensing requirements. If you’re brand-new to the handyman world, you may want to join up with a local community college or handyman association to get training.
If you’ve worked with another contractor or handyman association, you could use your on-the-job experience to fulfill these requirements.
Your state should be explicit about what training criteria might be required of you, but it’s always worth checking with other handymen to see what training they took up to get their handyman license.
Remember, this is the name that will go on all documentation, including your taxes - so make sure you like it. This step is especially pivotal if you’ve been doing handyman work on the side and are just starting to think about making it official with a handyman license.
Need help picking out the right business name? We’ve got an article for that - check out our definitive guide on picking the best name for your business.
Fill out and submit your licensing application. You’ll get all the applications and forms you need by contacting your state’s small business department or Secretary of State. And don’t forget, if you’re having trouble finding your state’s website for downloading the handyman license application, you can find it on our state-based contractor licensing hub.
Keep in mind that you may be asked to provide proof of business insurance (more on that later) and any fees associated with getting your license.
Figure out if you want to register your business as a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company (LLC).
For more information on how to do this, check out our guide on how to start a handyman business. It’s full of great advice on all the legal steps you need to take to get your handyman business up and running!
Getting your handyman license doesn’t have to be a complicated experience, but it is a necessary one. Customers are far more likely to work with handymen who are licensed and insured, so don’t end up missing out on them just to avoid some paperwork.
Ask any handyman or contractor if you need business insurance. We’re willing to bet that 9 times out of 10, the people you asked responded with a resounding YES.
So why is business insurance so important?
Simple: It ensures that everyone involved in a project - the business owner, the client, and even the employee - is protected from disaster.
Let’s say you’re hired to repair some leaks on a client’s roof. You breeze through this seemingly easy project, but then a rainstorm reveals that you actually didn’t do as great a job as you thought. The client’s bedroom is ruined - and you have to pay up.
Or you’re competing with a few other local handymen to land a long-term project with a property developer. The project could completely change the trajectory of your business, so you’re ready with your portfolio, customer testimonials, and even a few free estimates.
You’re 100% confident you’ve got this job in the bag - but then the property developer rejects your proposal simply because you’re not insured.
Business insurance is no joke - and if you want to own a successful handyman company, you have to have it. Clients won’t work with you if you’re not insured.
In fact, in many states, you can’t even get licensed without business insurance. And without a handyman or contractor’s license, you could find yourself in trouble, as it’s illegal to do some types of work without a license.
So now that you know why you need insurance, let’s take a look at the types of policies that can form the foundation of your protection.
Don’t worry, you shouldn’t need anything too complicated when you’re starting out your handyman business. We typically recommend considering the following policies for businesses that specialize in handyman services.
Most handymen will need to start with a general liability insurance policy, which typically covers third-party accidents, property damage, and anything else damaged while running your business.
General liability insurance is especially important for handymen who are doing work on other people’s properties. After all, anything can happen - and if you accidentally end up damaging your customer’s property while doing your work, GL insurance can cover the cost of repairing or replacing that property.
Plus, general liability insurance covers your employees, so if they make any mistakes, you’re likely still covered.
Handymen with employees should also secure a workers compensation policy, which covers the medical costs and wages of any employee who is injured on the job.
In many states, workers compensation insurance is required for a business who has employees. So whether you have a full-time employee or part-time help, you’ll want to cover your business with a good policy.
These policies are just recommendations for the foundation of your handyman business. Depending on what you specialize in and where you’re located, you may be required to take out additional policies.
That’s why, if you have any questions about what you need for handyman insurance, give one of our licensed insurance agents a call. We can answer any questions you might have, as well as help you find the best policy for you.
And if you don’t want to talk? No worries - you can shop and compare affordable handyman insurance policies 100% online.
I love writing about the small business experience because I happen to be a small business owner - I've had a freelance copywriting business for over 10 years. In addition to that, I also head up the content strategy here at Simply Business. Reach out if you have a great idea for an article or just want to say hi!
Mariah writes on a number of topics such as small business planning, contractor insurance, and business licenses.
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
*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.