How To Get Your General Contractor’s License in New York

If you enjoy construction work, project management, and paying attention to details, a career as a general contractor might be just right for you. General contractors need lots of experience and must be highly skilled, but if you like this type of work, this career is both fulfilling and rewarding.

If you work in construction, you might want to consider working in New York. Numerous infrastructure, commercial, and residential construction projects are being developed all over the state, so whether you prefer urban, suburban, or rural development, there’s a project for you in New York.

In New York City alone, construction accounts for 20% of the economy. Whether you work in the city or upstate, the construction industry in New York is thriving. At OnePointe Solutions, we have worked with numerous general contractors across the country, even in New York, to provide high-quality laboratory cabinetscustom workbenches, stainless steel cabinets, plastic laminate casework, and other kinds of laboratory, industrial and commercial furniture for their various jobs and projects.

In this guide, we’ll be covering all the details of what it takes to become a general contractor and how you can get licensed in the state of New York. New York has no state requirements for general contractors.

These requirements are instead handled by the municipality or the county.

In some counties, all you need is a business license and building permits. In others, you need a specific license.

Job Description: General Contractor

While every member of a construction team is important, the general contractor takes a vital leadership role. As managers, they oversee the entire project from start to finish and are responsible for the whole process.

Before construction begins, the general contractor must first create a detailed bid for their client by outlining all of the potential costs. If this is accepted, the general contractor must then coordinate scheduling, hire the rest of the team of tradesmen and subcontractors, purchase materials, and acquire all the necessary tools and equipment.

In reference to a bid, for the sake of this article, let’s say a bid was created and accepted for an elementary school science room.

In this situation, we would design and manufacture either custom laboratory cabinets or stainless steel cabinets from a range of sizes and configurations to fit the needs of the science room. These cabinets are great for storing tools and supplies, are easy to clean, durable, and can stand the test of science room experiments.

In addition, we would supply the general contractor with compatible yet quality laboratory countertops like epoxy resin, phenolic resin, stainless steel, solicor-cr, and even plastic laminate depending on the severity of the experiments being on in the room.

We would also create custom student workstations and supply lab chairs for the room as well to help promote collaboration and productivity among the students and even the teacher when class is in session. For virtually any job, here at OnePointe Solutions, we can help!

Once preparations are complete, the general contractor must be familiar with every aspect of the process so that they can anticipate problems and mitigate them before they arise. While some general contractors supervise other managers who handle the on-site supervision, others choose to act as site foremen and be physically present on the project.

General contractors are also responsible for safety on-site, and must also ensure that the project is finished according to plan. This means that even general contractors who primarily work off-site need to conduct site visits and inspections.

While on-site, 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

Every state has specific qualifications and licensing requirements for its general contractors, but some skills will serve you no matter where you work. Special skills can sometimes be learned, but are often innate, so no amount of training or extra experience can compensate.

Some special skills and qualifications all general contractors need to meet include: 

  • 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 in New York

If you think working as a general contractor could be a fit for your skills and professional goals, there are also some specific requirements you’ll need to meet. However, for New York, these requirements are not set by the state.

This means that there is no one clear path to becoming a general contractor in New York, and you will have to tailor your application process to the licensing body in which you plan to work.

The only types of contractors that are licensed by the state of New York are crane operators and asbestos handling contractors. For general contractors, usually referred to as home improvement contractors, there are two sets of rules.

There are a set of rules outside of New York City, and then there are a set of rules within New York City. A New York contractor has to have a license for each part of the state they are working in, and each area has its own requirements.

If you plan on being a general contractor in the state of New York, you must be prepared to research your specific area’s requirements.

Education

There are no formal education requirements for general contractors in New York, but a GED or high school diploma will make putting bids together much easier. If you want to pursue higher education, a degree in engineering, architecture, construction management, or a similar field may help you meet your goals.

However, you will still need to develop the manual skills required for construction and gain construction experience.

Experience

General contractors must be familiar with all types of construction work to successfully oversee the entire construction process. Without this familiarity, a contractor cannot accurately anticipate potential problems on the job site or supervise their subcontractors.

Outside of New York City, applications typically require you to create a self-written history of work experience for the 5 years before application, including details of companies you have regarding worked for and types of jobs completed. In New York City, there is no requirement to detail your experience.

Licensing

New York does not have a state licensing board for general contractors. Local licensing boards require that anybody who performs construction for any new residential or commercial buildings or does repairs, repainting, replacement, remodeling, installation, construction, conversion, modernization, or other alterations to existing buildings.

Some counties have different licenses available based on the size of the buildings you plan to work on. In most counties, a general contractor license does not allow HVAC, plumbing, or electrical work.

In New York City, you must have a license if you undertake any new construction, repairs, demolition, or remodeling of any building if the total cost of the work will exceed $200. If you plan on doing sidewalk work, you must also have an additional city license.

References

The state of New York does not require any references for a general contractor application. Outside of New York City, references are only required if you plan to offer demolition services. If you do plan to offer these, you will need at least two letters from townships where you have performed demolitions.

Background Check

There is no state background check requirement in New York; however, each of the licensing bodies does require various disclosures within their applications and asks for supplemental documents. Outside of New York City, most cities and counties require two passport-sized photos, a driver’s license, and various disclosure statements regarding past legal judgments and child support.

In New York City, however, the background check is detailed and intensive. It must be completed first before you can proceed with the rest of the application. You are also not able to complete any part of the application on your own and must meet with a licensing specialist to complete your application. 

The New York City background check requires several documents that all must be original copies. These include:

  • A signed, notarized and typed General Contractor Registration Form (LIC6)
  • A signed, notarized letter stating the name, home address, social security number, and percent of share in the company for all officers of the corporation as well as any stockholders.
  • Original copy of IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN) notification
  • The most recent three business bank account statements for the company, showing a minimum balance of $25,000 or notarized letter from the bank testifying to this balance for the past 12 months
  • General liability insurance certificate for $1 million in coverage
  • Workers’ compensation and disability insurance certificates or notarized affidavit of exemption for people without employees
  •  State-issued photo ID (or original birth certificate or passport)
  • Original Social Security card.
  • Proof of home address– utility bill, bank statement, deed, or lease
  • Proof of business address– utility bill, bank statement, deed, or lease 
  • $330.00 for the background check fee

These documents must be brought in person to the NYC Department of Buildings Licensing Unit and cannot be mailed or submitted digitally. 

Exam

There is no general contractor industry knowledge or state law exam anywhere in New York. 

Financial Documents

All cities in New York require general contractors to have general liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance. All businesses must also have a New York Tax ID and New York business license.

Additionally, there may be additional financial documents required. Outside of New York City, you are typically required to share your business banking information.

In New York City, you must submit proof of financial solvency in the form of bank statements or a notarized letter from the bank. 

Contractor’s Bond

Most cities in New York require a surety bond before work can begin on any project. Because this is determined at such a local level, you will need to check with your city’s government before you begin construction.

However, applications made both in and outside of NYC usually don’t require surety bonds until after bid acceptance. 

Insurance

All general contractors in New York must provide proof of worker’s compensation insurance or an exemption affidavit if they have no employees. There are also varying requirements for general liability insurance.

Outside of New York City, you may be required to have aggregate general liability insurance coverage of at least 2 million dollars. In New York City, you must have at least 1 million dollars of general liability insurance. 

New York General Contractor Licensing Fee Overview

While the exact amount you will spend applying for your general contractor license may vary, all applicants can expect to pay an application fee ranging from $200 to $750. In New York City, you will be required to pay a $300 application fee, as well as a $330 background check fee.

Average New York General Contractor Salary & Benefits

The average salary for a general contractor in New York is between $30,000-$110,000, with more experienced contractors earning higher wages. However, this can be quite variable depending on where you work.

For example, huge infrastructure projects and luxury developments in Manhattan have led to that borough’s much higher average of $150,000 annually. 

The Path to Become a General Contractor in New York

Do you think that being a general contractor in the Empire State is the career for you? Follow this basic path to start your career: 

1. Complete Education

While New York has no education requirements for general contractors, a GED or high school diploma will be extremely helpful in the long run. Further education is unnecessary but may be helpful, particularly if you take courses in architecture, construction management, or engineering. 

2. Get Work Experience

Each New York licensing body has different expectations of your work experience. Take as many construction jobs as you can so that you can build your expertise in different areas of the construction process. Document this experience, and build connections and relationships with your teammates. 

3. Choose A Location

Because New York does not have state licensure, your license application process will vary depending on where you choose to operate. It is vital that you research your area’s rules and regulations thoroughly, as requirements vary significantly from city to city and county to county. 

4. Obtain Insurance

You need both liability and worker’s compensation insurance. If you are planning on operating in certain municipalities, you will also need to acquire surety bonding. If you don’t have any employees, you can obtain an affidavit that waives your responsibility in regard to worker’s compensation insurance.

5. Submit Application Packet

Each licensing body has a different application submission process. Some places, like Buffalo, require you to attend a meeting in person or submit a notarized copy. In New York City, you are not allowed to fill out an application on your own and must meet with a license application specialist. Check your application for complete instructions.

Need Help With Your Project?

If you’re a general contractor in New York or another state in the U.S. and have a job that requires laboratory cabinets, plastic laminate casework, stainless steel, or even epoxy resin countertops, we can help. We have a plethora of products and furniture that is at your disposal to make sure your job gets done right.

Give us a call at (866) 222-7494 to speak to a project consultant today.

Questions? Concerns? Want to start today? Get in touch. 866.612.7312

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