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If you’re considering starting a contracting business in Connecticut, you probably already realize it’s a hectic and exciting time. You’ll finally be able to call your own shots, decide which projects you want to bid on, and choose your customers — for the most part, at least. But, there’s one thing that’s not up to you: Connecticut contractor licensing requirements.

But with everything you have going on, you don’t have time to dig through all of Connecticut’s contractor licensing. Levelset wants to help, so we did the legwork for you. This article will cover who needs to get a Connecticut contractor license, and how to get one. Keep reading to learn more.

Working outside Connecticut? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Contractor Licensing in Every State.

Who needs a contractors license in Connecticut?

You’re probably wondering if you need a contractors license in your specific line of work. The short answer is “probably.” But there is more to it than that. 

If you’re performing more than $1,000 worth of contracting work annually, you will have to carry a license or register your business with the State of Connecticut. Also, even if you’re only performing work with an aggregate value of $999, if one of those projects was worth more than $200, you’ll need to register your business.

So, other than taking a few handyman jobs over the summer, almost all contractors will have some requirements they must meet.

Do you need a license to file a mechanics lien in Connecticut?

Connecticut’s mechanics lien laws mention no explicit requirements regarding licensing and mechanics lien laws. But, on residential projects, only contractors who register in compliance with the Home Improvement Act or New Home Construction Contractors Act have the right to file a mechanics lien. 

So, no, a license might not be a requirement, but if you’re a residential contractor, you will have to register your business to file a lien in Connecticut.

Learn more: How to File a Mechanics Lien in Connecticut | Step-by-Step Guide

How to get a Connecticut contractors license

Connecticut’s contractor licensing requirements can be a bit confusing: In fact, there aren’t any requirements for general contractors to carry a license, which is unlike most other states.

However, the state does break down the typical duties of a general contractor into two categories: major and minor contractors, and both have requirements they must meet.

Major contractors

If you plan to handle large projects and commercial work, you’ll have to register as a major contractor. A major contractor is able to work on commercial, residential, and institutional projects, so it’s basically a catch-all designation.

Registration goes through the Department of Consumer Protection. Along with filling out this application and sending a $500 application fee, you’ll have some additional documents to collect. They include:

  • A letter of reference from a bank
  • One letter of reference from another contractor or supplier who will vouch for you
  • Three letters of reference from employers or customers who can vouch for your skillset
  • Proof that you have general liability insurance 
  • Copy of a trade name certificate, if applicable
  • A certificate that proves you registered the business with the Secretary of the State of Connecticut

Minor contractors

Connecticut offers a minor contractor registration as well, and it’s for contractors that work on smaller projects, such as single-family homes and small multi-family units. To add another layer, minor contractor licenses break into two designations: new home construction contractor and home improvement contractor. In some cases, contractors might even require both!

As the name suggests, home builders will have to register as new home construction contractors, except for homeowners building their own homes and subs or professionals holding occupational licenses working for licensed home builders.

Again, registration goes through the Department of Consumer Protection, and new home construction applicants can fill out this application

Home improvement construction contractors include any contractor that makes changes to a residential building. This can be as small as remodeling a bedroom or larger projects like additions. If the project exceeds $200, or you’re doing more than $1,000 worth of these projects in a year, the home improvement construction contractors registration is for you.

Home improvement construction contractor registration is another job for the Department of Consumer Protection, and applicants will fill out this application.

Again: Contractors may need both licenses in some cases. For instance, say you’re a registered home builder. Once you wrap up a project, the homeowner reaches out to you and asks for you to add another door to the porch. You can’t take this project with a new home construction contractor registration. — you’ll also need a home improvement construction contractor registration.

Electrical contractors

Connecticut requires that electrical contractors carry actual licenses. If you’re starting from scratch, the process to get one can take a few years. You’ll need a professional license first.

Electrical contractor applicants must carry or employ someone who carries an electrical journeyman’s license. Like most other contractor licenses in Connecticut, applicants interested in a journeyman’s license can fill out an application with the Department of Consumer Protection.

The applicant will have to prove that they’ve successfully completed an electrical apprenticeship program to apply. After application, they’ll have to pass an exam.

Once licensed as a journeyman, applicants can pursue contractor licensing via this application.

Plumbing contractors

Plumbing contractors in Connecticut need to carry state-issued licenses. And, like electrical contractors, plumbing contractors must hold or employ someone who holds a journeyman plumber’s license for at least two years. 

Applicants pursuing a journeyman’s license must be able to prove that they have successfully completed an apprenticeship program before they can apply using this application. Once registered, they’ll be eligible to take the practical exam for licensing.

Once a journeyman license holder has that license for two years, they can apply to the Department of Consumer Protection for a contractor license using this application.

HVAC contractors

Contractors specializing in HVAC work will have to carry a state-issued license to work in Connecticut, and like plumbing and electrical licenses, it takes time.

Connecticut requires that the HVAC contractor applicant or someone they employ carries a journeyman HVAC license for at least two years before applying. To apply, those interested will fill out this application, and they’ll have to prove they’ve met the required educational and practical experience. 

Once the applicant holds a journeyman license for at least two years, they can apply to the Department of Consumer Protection for a contractor license using this application.

Penalties for unlicensed contracting in Connecticut

On the whole, Connecticut’s contractor licensing requirements aren’t unreasonable. Other than specialty contractors, it’s a simple matter of applying for registration and paying the fees. With those rather laid-back rules to follow, it makes sense that there would be steep penalties for failing to obey them.

If you’re caught contracting without the proper license or registration, the Department of Consumer Protection can come after you. For the first offense, you can expect a fine of $1,000. If you don’t clean up your act, the second offense can cost you $1,500. If there’s a third offense, the Department of Consumer Protection shows no mercy and hits you with a $3,000 fine.

Protecting your payments in Connecticut

While the fines at the hands of the Department of Consumer Protection might seem tough, there’s a far harsher reality at stake. Beyond staying above board with Connecticut contractor licensing requirements, if Connecticut contractors don’t protect their lien rights, they could be leaving all of their cash on the table, unprotected.

To protect lien rights in Connecticut, the state has some specific requirements and deadlines contractors need to meet. For instance, contractors, subs, and suppliers have up to 90 days from last furnishing to file a mechanics lien. A day late, and they might find themselves putting their cash flow at risk. 

Also, should the payment dispute drag out, the contractor might have to take action. In this case, a contractor, sub, or supplier has up to one year after recording the lien to take action to enforce it. Without meeting that deadline, the lien will expire, leaving the contractor with no recourse to recover their cash.