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In Maryland, there is not a specific license known as the general contractor license; however, the closest equivalent is the home improvement license, which is offered through the Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC). The MHIC is a branch of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation that specifically handles home improvement contracting throughout the state.
The MHIC defines home improvement work in the following way: “Home improvement work includes alteration, remodeling, repair or replacement of a building or part of a building used as a residence. Home improvement also includes work done on individual condominium units.”
General contractors looking to work in the state of Maryland will likely find that some of their projects fall into this category. Thus, it is important to make sure you are properly licensed with the MHIC before accepting any projects of this sort.
At OnePointe Solutions, we have worked with many general contractors across the country to supply them with commercial cabinets, industrial workbenches, and laboratory casework for their various projects and jobs.
Job Description: General Contractor
Becoming a general contractor requires a good amount of experience in the construction field as well as the ability to juggle many responsibilities at once. As the general contractor for a project, you are essentially the leader in charge of making bids to the client, delegating tasks to those working on-site, ordering materials, choosing the creative direction, and formulating the completion timeline.
You will need to make quick decisions and be able to field questions both from employees or subcontractors as well as clients or any government officials you may be working alongside. In essence, you must be your project’s jack of all trades.
The process of completing a project as a general contractor goes something like this: assess the building site, submit a bid to the client, create a budget and timeline for you, your employees, and your subcontractors to follow, and ensure that the construction runs smoothly.
In reference to a bid being created, let’s say for the sake of this guide that a bid was created for upgrading some individual condominium units. We would supply the general contractor with plastic laminate casework for storage and cabinet options. We carry a range of options including Wilsonart, Arborite, Formica, and Nevamar. In addition, for countertops, we can provide solid surface, granite, quartz, and/or maple block to give an elegant look to the space.
Since each project is unique, you will often face challenges during construction which must be dealt with in a way that adheres to both your budget and the wishes of your client. Thus, the job requires that you be communicative and proactive in order to certify its completion on time and the safety of your employees.
To summarize, general contractors are in charge of the following:
- Crew safety
- Equipment and site safety
- Permits and street closures
- Anticipating weather conditions and scheduling accordingly
- Enforcing quality and safety standards
Special Skills & Qualifications
Some skills simply cannot be taught in a classroom. They require experience and interaction with others to obtain them. A general contractor requires a number of these types of skills, as, in this role, you will often find yourself leading others, delegating responsibilities, creating timelines, and communicating with both employees and clients alike.
It is important to be adaptable since every new project will bring with it new challenges to face. Regardless of location, these are crucial skills that any general contractor should strive to personify.
No matter where you work as a general contractor, having the following skills will help you in your career:
- Ability to read building plans and blueprints
- Building/construction skills
- Excellent time management and organizational skills
- Attention to detail
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills
- Budget and purchasing experience
- Comfortable working with new people
- Able to learn quickly and in stressful situations
- Concern for the wellbeing of others and a touch of perfectionism
Qualifications to Become a General Contractor
The qualifications to become a contractor in Maryland are regulated by the MHIC and are quite rigorous in terms of making sure you have all the necessary documentation to include when you submit your application. However, we have provided an easy outline of everything you will need to obtain your home improvement license, so you can feel confident in your application’s acceptance and avoid any confusion throughout the process.
There are no formal education requirements at the state level in Maryland when it comes to obtaining your contractor license. However, if you are aspiring towards this position in the future, then it is helpful to keep in mind that those just starting in construction are normally at least 18 years old and have either a high school diploma or the GED equivalent.
If you are interested in furthering your education via a university diploma, you may want to consider a major in engineering or architecture.
The MHIC requires all contractor license applicants to provide proof of at least two years of experience in home improvement work, construction, and/or related education. Veterans in construction can mine from any relevant past experiences when applying, while those just starting out may want to provide proof of comparable education in place of experience.
You will be required to pass an exam with PSI Examinations before submitting your application to the MHIC. This differs from many other states, which require you to take an exam after having passed the first part of your application, so be sure not to forget this crucial step.
The exam consists of 55 questions, and you will need at least a 70% to pass. You may use your scores to apply for a license within two years of completing the exam. After that, you will need to retake the exam to renew your scores.
Exams are offered Monday through Friday at testing centers located in Baltimore, College Park, Salisbury, Frederick, Hagerstown, Lanham, and Crofton. Simply contact your closest testing center to schedule an appointment. The exam is given on the computer, lasts about two hours, and includes a fee of $63.00.
The Maryland contractor license form can be found here. Fill it out completely and sign it before mailing it to the MHIC along with all corresponding fees and documentation.
The MHIC requires several documents to be submitted along with your application, exam results, and corresponding fees.
Proof of Financial Solvency
Having financial solvency essentially means that your business’s assets outweigh your liabilities, i.e. you’re able to pay your debts. The MHIC requires that all applicants provide proof of their financial solvency in regards to total assets, liabilities, and net worth.
You may provide proof by filling out the personal financial statement form found here. If your business does not meet the solvency guidelines, then you may purchase a surety bond or obtain an indemnity in place of the solvency proof. The forms for these options can also be found here.
Business Name Registration
If your business has a name, you must check with the MHIC to make sure that name is still available for use. As long as it is available, you then need to register the name with the Department of Assessments and Taxation and provide a certificate of name registration along with your application.
Articles of Incorporation & Certificate of Good Standing
In the same vein as the last requirement, if you are applying for licensure as a corporation, then you must also submit articles of incorporation and a Certificate of Good Standing along with your application, both obtained via the Department of Assessments and Taxation.
Real Estate & Bank Statements
If there is real estate listed on your financial statement, you must include a copy of your current real estate property assessment notice. You are also required to submit copies of personal bank statements from the last three months.
You must provide a credit report along with your application as well, which may be obtained via Annual Credit Report.
Certificate of General Liability Insurance
You are required to include proof of current liability insurance worth at least $50,000 at the time of your application, whether it is for a new license or a renewal.
If you have ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, you must include a full record of all past convictions when you submit your application.
Maryland Contractor Licensing Fee Overview
You will be required to pay a handful of fees when applying for your contractor license with the MHIC. The outline of fees for first-time applicants are as follows:
- $250 original application fee
- $100 Guaranty Fund contribution
- $20 processing fee
If you are renewing your license after two years, your fees will differ just slightly:
- $250 renewal application fee
- $125 Guaranty Fund contribution
- $5.42 for a credit report
Average Maryland General Contractor Salary & Benefits
The average annual salary for a general contractor working in Maryland is $87,656 with the opportunity to earn $6,750 overtime each year. This is about 16% higher than the national average for general contractors employed in the United States.
The Path to Become A General Contractor in Maryland
With all the necessary information at your fingertips, you are now ready to start your journey towards becoming a fully licensed contractor in the state of Maryland. Just to make things easier for you, we have provided a step-by-step guide below to help you check all the boxes.
1. Pass Your Contractors Examination
Unlike many other states, Maryland requires that you pass your contractor exam before applying rather than after your application is approved. Contact PSI Examinations to schedule your exam in the testing facility nearest to you. Be prepared to sit for about two hours while you complete the exam and don’t forget your $63.00 exam fee.
2. Gather Necessary Documentation
The MHIC requires you to submit the following documents along with your application:
- Proof of two years of prior experience or related education.
- Proof of financial solvency via a personal financial statement; a surety bond or indemnity may be submitted in its place if you do not meet the solvency guidelines. All relevant documents can be found here.
- Certificate of business name registration obtained through the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation.
- Articles of incorporation and a Certificate of Good Standing also obtained through the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (corporations only).
- Real estate & bank statements
- Credit report
- Certificate of current general liability insurance worth at least $50,000.
- Conviction records for anyone who has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.
3. Complete and Sign Your Application
The application for contractors in Maryland can be found here. Complete the form in full, sign it, and mail it in to the MHIC for consideration, along with all the necessary documentation and fees.
5. Pay Licensing Fees
The fee total for first-time applicants comes to $370 after totaling all the fees below:
- $250 original application fee
- $100 Guaranty Fund contribution
- $20 processing fee
Be sure to include a check or money order made payable to the Maryland Home Improvement Commission with your completed application.
6. Mail Your Application and Documentation
You’re nearly there! With your completed application, check or money order, and documentation gathered together, simply compile them into an envelope along with a photo of yourself to be mailed to the MHIC at the following address:
Maryland Home Improvement Commission
P. O. Box 17409
Baltimore, Maryland 21297-1409
Need Commercial Cabinets For Your Project?
If you’re a general contractor in Maryland or another state in the U.S. and need commercial cabinets for your next job, give us a call at (866) 222-7494 to speak to a project consultant today. And for more information on our commercial cabinets, view the literature below: