If you’re considering starting a contracting business in New Hampshire, you’re probably looking forward to being your own boss. As a construction company owner, you’ll be able to choose the types of projects you take, which contracts you feel are best for your company, and the clients you want to work with. But you don’t have a choice when it comes to one area: New Hampshire contractor license requirements.
Starting a business is a hectic time, though. And spending hours researching which license you do or don’t need is a waste of time. This guide will help, as it covers which New Hampshire contractor license you might need and how to get it.
Contracting in another state? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Contractors License Requirements in Every State.
Who needs a New Hampshire contractor license?
Generally speaking, New Hampshire has a pretty hands-off approach to licensing: The state only issues licenses for specialty contractors like electricians and plumbing contractors.
In states where licensing isn’t handled at the state level, local cities and counties typically take over. Usually, each city or county will have its own requirements, and contractors will have to carry a license for each area they work in. But that’s not even the case in New Hampshire. Most cities take a different approach, and we’ll cover that in a bit.
If you haven’t figured out that the Live Free or Die State marches to the beat of its own drum yet, you’ll get a better idea by the end of this guide.
Do you need a license to file a mechanics lien in New Hampshire?
If you guessed that New Hampshire’s mechanics lien laws might be equally as interesting as its contractor license requirements, you’d be right.
New Hampshire mechanics lien laws have no requirements regarding contractor licensing for a mechanics lien filing. So, an unlicensed contractor could potentially file a mechanics lien against a property if they aren’t receiving payment for their work.
But, if you’re one of the few contractor types that do need to carry a license, it’s not a good idea to contract without that required license. Consider what would happen if you filed a mechanics lien against a property and the project owner still doesn’t pay.
Once you take the case to court, the court might not look fondly upon your unlicensed status as you attempt to foreclose on someone’s property.
For that reason, it’s best to stay above-board with all of New Hampshire contractor license requirements.
How to get a New Hampshire contractor license
In general, most contractors working within New Hampshire’s state borders aren’t required to carry a specific license. Even those working in most cities are free to work as long as they pull a permit from the local office.
However, some contractors do need licenses, and there are some other requirements that apply to some businesses within the state.
How to get a business license in New Hampshire
All businesses within the State of New Hampshire must register with the Secretary of State. Not surprisingly, information about registering is limited on the Secretary of State’s website. However, the Department of Revenue Administration’s website states:
It is recommended that any interested entity or individual inquire directly to the Secretary of State’s Office to ascertain current fees and information pertinent to their situation:
NH Secretary of State Corporate Division
25 Capitol Street, 3rd Floor
Concord, NH 03301-6312
How to get a New Hampshire electrical contractor license
Electrical contractors in New Hampshire don’t actually require state-issued contractors’ licenses, but they are required to carry a trade license. Licensing is a function of the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification Electrician’s Board.
To operate as a standalone company, the owner of an electrical contracting company must either carry a master-level license or employ someone who carries one. Applicants for this license will use this application. The requirements are:
- Verify a minimum of 2,000 hours of on-the-job training as a licensed journeyman with a certification for each place of employment in the electrical trade
- Pay $50 application fee, as well as the licensing fee, which ranges from $90 to $270, depending on the applicant’s birth month (another example of New Hampshire’s unique approach to licensing)
- Provide three references and full education history
How to get a New Hampshire plumbing contractor license
Like electrical contractors, plumbing contractors don’t need contracting-specific licenses. However, they will have to carry a trade license in order to perform plumbing work.
Plumber licensure is now a function of the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification Mechanical Safety and Licensing Board. Contractors must typically carry a master-level license or employ a master license holder. Applicants will use this application, and the requirements are:
- Copy of NH Journeyman Plumber License
- Must have at least six months of experience
- A letter signed by a licensed master plumber who supervised or directed the applicant during military service of journeyman employment, certifying that they believe the applicant to be qualified
- Copy of testing result
- A passport photo as well as proof of identification
The fee for master-level licensing is $310, and applicants should make out the check or money order to “State of NH – Treasury.”
How to get a local contractor license in New Hampshire
In most states, local cities take over when the state lets go of the contractor licensing reins. However, it’s relatively standard that Granite State cities rely more on permitting than licensing. In other words, if you apply for a permit, you’ll fulfill the requirements for working in the city.
New Hampshire local permit offices
- Manchester: Planning and Community Development Building Department
- Nashua: Community Development Building Safety Department
- Concord: Code Administration Build Safety Department
- Dover: City Operations Inspection Services Department
- Rochester: Building and Licensing Services (don’t let the name fool you, there are no licenses for construction contractors)
Penalties for unlicensed contracting in New Hampshire
With so few regulations for New Hampshire contractors, one might assume that penalties would be fairly laid back for unlicensed contractors. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
While there are really two main state-mandated contractor license types (electrical and plumbing), the consequences for not carrying those licenses are serious. In both cases, unlicensed contracting is a misdemeanor, which could result in fines and penalties, as well as possible jail time.
Protecting your payments in New Hampshire
New Hampshire contractor license requirements are unique, but the struggles contractors in the state deal with are not. Contractors still need to protect their cash flow in order to keep their businesses afloat. And, just like other states (for once), the best way contractors can protect their cash flow is by preserving their lien rights, which requires knowing the state’s laws.
For example, New Hampshire subcontractors and suppliers should send a notice of lien rights on the owner before working. Technically, this preliminary notice can be sent up until the date of filing, but it’s unlikely to cover the full contracted amount. General contractors do not have to send preliminary notices.
Also, subs and suppliers must send a written account of labor and materials furnished every 30 days for the previous 30 days (even if they aren’t sending an invoice). General contractors are exempt from this rule as well.
When it comes to the deadline for filing a mechanics lien, New Hampshire likes to throw another wrench in the works. Technically, the deadline to file a mechanics lien for all contract tiers is 120 days. However, in New Hampshire, you have to file a lawsuit first. Once the court approves the lawsuit, you can file the lien. With that in mind, New Hampshire contractors must leave enough time to file the lawsuit, get it approved, and then file the mechanics lien before the 120-day mark.
Luckily, New Hampshire does allow claimants to file an Ex Parte Petition to Secure Mechanics Lien. This document allows the claimant to file the lawsuit without serving the other party, speeding up the filing process.
Also, understand that the act of enforcing the lien is also different in New Hampshire. Technically, the lawsuit filed prior to the lien filing is the enforcement action, so the enforcement deadline is the same 120-day window as the deadline for filing.
When it comes to New Hampshire contractor license requirements and the act of filing a mechanics lien, the state is definitely operating on its own wavelength. Be sure to understand the requirements to keep your business on the up-and-up in The Granite State.