28 March 2023
Are you a New Jersey general contractor or NJ handyman who wants to get licensed? We’ll map it out for you.
It’s a good thing that you’re reading this, because to do home construction and many types of substantial home repairs in New Jersey, you do need to be a licensed contractor.
New Jersey defines contractor work as making or selling home improvements. A contractor business can fall into a wide range of business types, including sole proprietorships, limited liability companies, partnerships, corporations, and associations.
Some contractors do need to be licensed by the state in order to work in New Jersey while others do not.
For example, carpenters do not require a contractor license in NJ but all plumbers and electricians must have a general contractor license for NJ to legally work on a construction project in the state.
It’s easy to use these terms interchangeably, but it’s important to understand how they relate to getting a contractor license in New Jersey.
Licenses - To get a contractors license in many states, you need to meet a number of requirements, including passing an exam. That’s not the case in New Jersey. You only need to register to become licensed.
Registration - Registering a business is often more simple than getting licensed. There is generally less paperwork, fewer fees, and often no exams.
So, to sum things up, anyone who performs work as a residential or home improvement contractor in New Jersey needs to be registered with the N.J. Division of Consumer Affairs.
The state of New Jersey doesn’t have Handyman licenses. Instead, handymen need to apply for a home improvement contractor license to perform any type of handyman work in New Jersey.
Simply put, it’s the law. When it comes to licensing, every state is a little different. New Jersey requires anyone who sells or makes home improvements to register before doing any work. If you don’t, you open yourself up to civil or even criminal penalties. And those penalties can be pretty high.
Fortunately, there are many benefits to getting a New Jersey contractor license (in addition to obeying the law). A license:
As you can see, there are a ton of benefits to being official. Now, here’s how you can get your license quickly and easily.
It doesn’t matter if you’re full-time or part-time. If you get paid for doing any “home improvements,” you must be licensed. Check out the New Jersey Contractor Registration Act to learn more. It’s best to read the law on your own—but here’s a quick recap.
If you work as a business and do any of the following activities, you must get a license first:
This includes work on driveways, sidewalks, swimming pools, terraces, patios, landscaping, fences, porches, windows, doors, cabinets, kitchens, bathrooms, garages, basements, fire protection devices, security protection devices, heating and AC equipment, water softeners, heaters, purifiers, solar heating or water systems, insulation, siding, and carpeting and flooring.
Whew. That’s a lot. Your best bet?
Whether you think of it as a license or a registration, the important thing is to make sure you’re following state laws before doing any work. The only exception is a landscaper who only mows lawns and trims shrubs. If that’s your business, you don’t have to register with the state. But, if you plant flowers, shrubs, and trees, or lay sod or establish lawns — you must register first.
When in doubt, call the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Division of Consumer Affairs at 1-888-656-6225 to ask.
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 $22.13/month.*Start Here >
You don’t need a New Jersey contractor license to work as a roofing contractor in the Garden state. However, as we mentioned above, you do need to be registered.
This can help you from more than just a legal perspective. As of 2018, it’s no longer necessary to get a construction permit in order to install a roof on a single or two-family home.
While this makes it easier for homeowners to get roof work done, it does put more responsibility on them to make sure the work is done properly.
By promoting the fact that you’re licensed with the state, you can help assure homeowners that they could have less to worry about with you on the job.
To get your license, fill out the application first. With your application, you’ll need:
You’ll also need to be at least 18 years old.
If you have a criminal record, you’re in default of a loan, or if you’re not a U.S. citizen, you might have to send in additional paperwork.
You should know that you’ll need to renew your NJ home improvement license each year by March 31. The renewal fee is $110.
But overall, the New Jersey licensing verification process is more lenient than other states. They don’t require you to provide proof of education or experience, or even letters of reference.
As you pursue your contractor’s license, getting business insurance is just one step along the way. But, it’s an incredibly important one.
A high quality insurance plan, whether it’s worker’s compensation or general liability insurance, will help protect you, your employees, and your business if there’s an accident or loss of property. Plus, it adds a level of professionalism that complements your new license.
But for contractors and other small business owners, insurance can seem like a strange and foreign land filled with hard-to-understand jargon and confusing coverage options.
Something that’s so essential for small business owners shouldn’t be that hard for them to shop for and buy, should it?
No, it should not. And that’s where we can help.
While it’s not too hard to find people who understand insurance, it can be more of a challenge to find some who also understand small business owners, especially contractors.
We make it easy to get insured. Whether you want to do it all online at 11:30 pm on your tablet or whether you want to talk with a licensed insurance, we can fit your schedule and your style. All in just 10 minutes, with general liability policies as low as $22.50/month.*
We work with the nation's top insurers. That not only lets us find the coverage you need, it often lets us find it with a number of competitive quotes. All you need to do is pick the coverage and price that work best for you.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the coverages that we can help with:
General liability - This can be a business owner's best friend when it comes to financially protecting you from claims, such as:
Many of these claims are not small, either. In fact, the average claim for property damage or customer injury is a hefty $30,000, That’s probably not a check you want to write from your business account.
New Jersey Workers compensation insurance - New Jersey requires that all New Jersey employers not covered by federal programs have workers compensation coverage This includes full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees.
If an employee gets sick or injured while working for you, workers compensation could financially cover those resulting claims, up to the limits of your policy.
New Jersey inland marine insurance - Your tools are critical to your livelihood as a contractor. Inland marine insurance can help financially protect the tools and equipment you use while in transport or on a job site. Inland marine coverage can financially protect your business from occurrences like:
Inland marine insurance also can cover someone else's property that gets damaged or stolen. So if you’re renting or leasing tools, your insurance may cover repairs and replacements, up to the policy’s limit.
Have more questions or want to get started? Give us a call at 844-654-7272. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8 am to 8 pm (ET).
No. In New Jersey, it’s cut and dry. There’s just one license that you get through the state. This license and registration allow you to work on residential and commercial spaces throughout the state.
According to their website, a properly completed New Jersey Contractor application will be processed within 30 days of receiving it.
Once you have your NJ contractor license application materials together, send them to:
State of New Jersey, Division of Consumer Affairs, Regulated Business Section, Home Improvement Unit, 124 Halsey Street, 7th Floor, P.O. Box 46016, Newark, NJ 07101
And there you have it - your guide to getting a contractor license in New Jersey!
When it comes to doing quality work, no one knows better than you that it takes the right materials, proper skills, and solid workmanship to get the job done right. You wouldn't leave out a step in the process, right?
The same thinking applies to your business. And having a contractors license is a key piece of building your contractor operation.
Getting your contractors license may seem like an arduous process to get licensed, but don’t let that hold you back - your license is one of the most crucial tools you can get to protect the longevity of your business. Without it, you’re putting yourself - and your personal finances - at huge risk.
Don't forget, you may also need to get a NJ business license, so check out our guide on that too!
*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 April - June 2022 data of 10% of our total policies sold.
I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.
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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*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.