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If you’re considering starting your own construction business in Kansas, congratulations. The construction industry is hard, and it takes courage to strike out on your own. But if you’re able to make it, you’ll be your own boss, make your own schedule, and choose the types of projects you want to take. There is one area where you can’t make the calls, however: Kansas contractor licensing requirements.

The thing is, starting a business is a very hectic time. You have to develop a business plan, secure insurance, line up a workforce, and create relationships with subs and GCs. So, instead of pulling your hair out over Kansas contractor licensing, this guide will simplify things.

Working in a different state? For information on licensing in other states, check out The Ultimate Guide to Contractors License Requirements in Every State.

Who needs a contractors license in Kansas? 

You might realize that there isn’t a lot of information on the internet about state-issued licenses in Kansas, and there’s a good reason for that: There are none. Unlike other states, Kansas hands the licensing reins over entirely to the local governments.

Does that mean there aren’t any contractor licensing requirements in Kansas? Absolutely not. Most counties have their own rules and requirements, and meeting those requirements is just as important as would-be state-mandated licensing.

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

Many states that allow local jurisdictions to determine contractor licensing have rather relaxed laws on mechanics liens and licensing. Kansas is no exception.

Kansas mechanics lien laws make no specific requirements regarding licensing and mechanics liens. This means that an unlicensed contractor could potentially file a mechanics lien in the event of non-payment. 

So, does that mean contractors don’t need to get licenses at all? Consider this: You’re not carrying a license, and a project owner decides they aren’t going to pay for your work. Though you’re unlicensed, you’re able to file a lien. But, it doesn’t make a bit of difference, and the owner forces you to take them to court. 

How’s the court going to look upon your unlicensed status as you attempt to foreclose on someone’s property? Probably not fondly.

Learn more: How to File a Kansas Mechanics Lien – a Practical Guide

How to get a contractors license in Kansas

All corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and general partnerships need to register their business with the State of Kansas Secretary of State. Information about registering is fairly sparse, so it’s best to contact the office directly

Beyond business licensing, there isn’t one set path to Kansas contractor licensing. The steps required change from county to county, and with 105 of them, the regulations are bound to vary. And, for contractors who work in multiple counties, they’ll have to meet the requirements of each to ensure they’re above board.

The best way to ensure you’re on the up-and-up in the areas you work in is to call the county or city clerk. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction regarding the appropriate licenses required to operate in their jurisdiction.

How to get a contractors license in Johnson County, Kansas

Contractor licensing in Johnson County, Kansas, is a function of the Johnson County Planning and Codes Department. The department offers several types of licenses, including:

  • 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 

In general, the requirements for each of these licenses include:

  1. Complete the application 
  2. Submit the $100 application fee and $225 license fee
  3. Submit proof of general liability and worker’s compensation insurance
  4. Establish a qualifying individual who must have either:
    1. A bachelor of science in architecture, engineering, construction science, or construction management
    2. A 75% score on an ICC exam
  5. Provide proof of identity of company owner and qualified individual with a government ID
  6. Provide a digital photo of the qualified individual
  7. Provide evidence of good standing from the Secretary of State

Like many local jurisdictions in Kansas, you’ll have to contact the department and request an application.

How to get a contractors license in Sedgwick County

Contractor licensing in Sedgwick County falls under the control of the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department, which works in conjunction with the City of Wichita. 

The MABCD offers licenses for general contractors, as well as specialty contractors such as plumbers, electricians, elevator/escalator, fire suppression, refrigeration, and sheet metal, among others. 

The requirements for licensing are relatively standard across the different license types:

  1. Complete the application, front and back, along with the signatures of everyone involved
  2. Provide proof of a master-level trade certificate 
  3. Take, pass, and submit results of an ICC trade exam
  4. Provide proof of liability insurance with at least $300,000 in general liability showing MABCD as the certificate holder
  5. Provide proof of worker’s compensation insurance
  6. Proof of auto insurance on fleet vehicles
  7. A certificate of good standing from the Secretary of State
  8. Qualified Person (master license holder, or business owner if qualified) Declaration Page
  9. Signatures of all company officers
  10. Authorization for Qualified Person to do business for the company, including pulling permits and scheduling inspections. This proof must be written on company letterhead and signed by all owners, officers, and partners.
  11. Pay fees

Fees range dramatically depending on the license type. A Class A GC applicant will need to submit a fee of $1,000, while basic trades will pay $360. 

How to get a contractors license in other Kansas jurisdictions

There are licensing requirements in other Kansas jurisdictions, but they’re scattered and not well-documented on the internet. The best source of information is the county or city clerk in the area in which you plan to work. Most counties and cities require that contractors at least register their businesses before operating.

Penalties for unlicensed contracting in Kansas

As a state, Kansas has very laid-back licensing requirements. It doesn’t require anyone to carry a license. All the requirements come from the cities and counties throughout the state, as do the penalties for unlicensed contracting. 

The penalties can vary from city to city or county to county, but expect fines and fees. Also, many building department officers will shut projects down, causing irreparable damage to a timeline. 

Protecting your payments in Kansas

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to Kansas contractor licensing, but they’re not the only set of rules and regulations Kansas contractors need to keep their eyes on. Kansas mechanics lien laws have requirements and deadlines that contractors need to meet in order to protect their cash flow.

As an example, Kansas subs and suppliers need to send a preliminary notice to the project owner before filing a mechanics lien on a residential job. These notices aren’t a requirement for commercial jobs, and general contractors aren’t required to send them at all. But, if a sub or supplier doesn’t send that notice, their lien rights might disappear.

Kansas Preliminary Notice: Guide + Free Forms

Beyond preliminary notices, GCs, subs, and suppliers need to keep their eyes on the deadline for filing a mechanics lien. For general contractors, the deadline to file a lien is 120 days from last furnishing. For subs and suppliers, they have just 90 days from last furnishing to file a lien. This is significantly less than the six months many other states provide, so Kansas contractors need to be alert and watch the calendar. 

And it’s not just the deadline to file that construction companies need to pay attention to. All contractors, regardless of tier, have one year to enforce their lien. And this deadline is serious, as contractors cannot file for an extension, and failure to meet the deadline renders the entire lien unenforceable.

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