North Dakota’s strong economy and influx of new residents has created opportunities for handymen and contractors. Homeowners and businesses statewide need skilled tradespeople to handle renovations, repairs, maintenance, and other improvements.

Operating as a handyman allows you to use your skills to help clients with small jobs while being your own boss. But before getting started, it is important to understand North Dakota’s licensing and insurance rules.

This comprehensive guide provides handymen everything they need to know about legally starting and running a handyman business in North Dakota.

Overview of North Dakota Handyman Licensing

North Dakota uses a contractor licensing system overseen by the Secretary of State to regulate larger construction projects. Licenses are required for any home improvement work valued at over $4,000, including:

  • Kitchen and bathroom remodels
  • Room additions
  • Major carpentry and drywall repairs

However, handymen can perform minor maintenance and repairs without obtaining a state license. Some examples of handyman work exempt from licensing include:

  • Basic handyman repairs like fixing leaks or unclogging drains
  • Installing new cabinets and shelving
  • Interior painting and wallpapering
  • Minor drywall repairs and patching holes
  • Basic carpentry tasks – replacing door knobs, repairing fences, etc.
  • Landscaping and yard clean up
  • Pressure washing siding and decks
  • Cleaning gutters
  • Flooring repairs and installation
  • Minor appliance and electronics repairs
  • Furniture assembly and repair
  • Window treatments installation

If you only plan to offer general handyman services without expanding into major remodeling or construction projects, a state license is not required.

However, you still need to formally register your handyman business and comply with general business licensing regulations in North Dakota.

This guide covers the specifics on contractor licensing as well as rules for operating a legal handyman business.

Types of Contractor Licenses Issued in North Dakota

To perform any construction work on projects valued at over $4,000 as a handyman, you must obtain a contractor license through the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office. This includes large home remodeling and repair jobs.

North Dakota issues several classes of contractor licenses based on the size and scope of projects you plan to take on:

  • Class A – For work over $500,000 per job
  • Class B – For work up to $500,000 per job
  • Class C – For work up to $300,000 per job
  • Class D – For work up to $100,000 per job

Handymen who want to expand into kitchen remodels, basement finishings, and similar mid-sized residential jobs would need a Class C or Class D contractor license. These allow you to bid on projects up to $100,000-$300,000 respectively.

Separate specialty licenses are required from the appropriate North Dakota licensing board for electrical, handyman, HVAC, asbestos abatement, and other skilled trades work. This includes the specialty tasks a handyman may perform as part of a larger home improvement project.

Having a valid contractor license and proper specialty licensing ensures you operate your handyman business legally and gives homeowners confidence in hiring you for larger projects.

Applying for a North Dakota Handyman Contractor License

To obtain your initial contractor license to perform handyman work on jobs over $4,000 in North Dakota, you will need to submit the following paperwork and fees to the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office:

  • Completed contractor license application
  • Certificate of general liability insurance
  • Proof of workers’ compensation coverage
  • Non-refundable license fee

Contractor License Application

When filling out the license application, you will need to provide information about your handyman work experience and qualifications. North Dakota does not require passing an exam to get a handyman contractor license.

Your application must include:

  • Details on your background completing construction projects and home renovations as a handyman
  • At least three references who can verify your skills and experience
  • Indication of the class of license you are applying for based on the size of projects you plan to undertake
  • Certification that you understand and will comply with state contracting laws

Formal education is not required. The state evaluates eligibility based on your documented on-the-job experience, training, and references.

Insurance Requirements

Liability insurance and workers’ compensation are mandatory to obtain a North Dakota handyman contractor license. You must submit proof of both when applying for a new license.

General liability insurance covers property damage and bodily injury caused by your business. It also pays legal fees in the event you are sued for negligence. The state does not mandate specific coverage minimums, but $100,000 is typical for small contractors.

You must also show proof that you have an active workers’ compensation policy. This provides medical and wage benefits for employees injured on the job. Workers’ comp is required if you have any employees, including part-time or seasonal workers.

Maintaining current insurance while licensed is compulsory. You’ll need to send updated certificates when renewing your handyman contractor license each year.

Contractor License Fees

Licensing fees must be paid when you submit your initial handyman contractor license application. Costs vary based on which license class you apply for:

|Contractor License Class|Initial License Fee|
|Class A|$450|
|Class B|$300|
|Class C|$225|
|Class D|$100|

Class D is the most appropriate option if you plan to stay within the small handyman job scope. But taking on larger projects may justify getting a Class C license.

You can pay the state licensing fees by money order, check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express. Licenses are good for one year and must be renewed annually.

Business Registration Requirements

To obtain your contractor license, you must first formally register your handyman business with the North Dakota Secretary of State. This involves choosing a business structure such as sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, or corporation and filing the appropriate formation documents.

You’ll also need a valid Employer ID Number (EIN) from the IRS if you plan to hire employees or form a corporation or partnership.

Completing these steps shows you have an established handyman business entity eligible for a state contractor license.

Maintaining Your North Dakota Handyman License

North Dakota contractor licenses must be renewed each year prior to the March 1 deadline to remain valid. To keep your handyman contractor license current, you’ll need to complete the following renewal steps annually:

  • Submit an updated license renewal application
  • Pay the renewal fee
  • Provide a new certificate of liability insurance
  • List all projects over $25,000 completed in the past year

The renewal application also involves certifying that you do not owe outstanding taxes or other debts to the state.

Letting your contractor license lapse by missing renewal deadlines could result in late fees or having to reapply for a new license.

North Dakota Contractor License Renewal Fees

Renewal fees are based on your contractor license class:

|License Class|Annual Renewal Fee|
|Class A |$90|
|Class B|$60|
|Class C|$45|
|Class D|$30|

You’ll pay an additional $50 late penalty per class if renewing after March 1.

For example, a Class C license would cost $95 to renew late ($45 normal renewal fee + $50 late penalty).

Keeping your liability insurance active and submitting renewals on time prevents lapses in your licensing.

Contractor License Reciprocity for Out-of-State Handymen

North Dakota does not offer full license reciprocity for handymen coming from other states. Your existing contractor license will not transfer.

To legally work as a handyman contractor in North Dakota, out-of-state handymen must go through the same initial North Dakota licensing and application process. This includes submitting:

  • A new license application form
  • Proof of insurance
  • License fees

However, the state will consider your experience and qualifications from holding a license in a state like Minnesota, Montana, or South Dakota when evaluating your application.

So while you won’t be exempt from North Dakota’s licensing requirements, your existing credentials can potentially help expedite approval. But ultimately you need to meet the state’s eligibility standards and pay all applicable fees.

Surety Bond Requirements for North Dakota Contractors

North Dakota does not require general contractors, including licensed handymen, to carry contractor license bonds.

However, you may need to provide project-specific performance bonds when bidding on large public works jobs or contracts requiring bonded contractors. This helps protect the client if you fail to complete the work.

Homeowners or companies hiring you may also ask you to carry a license and permit bond for added assurance on bigger handyman jobs. Having bondability can make your business more competitive.

While optional, handymen taking on larger construction projects may benefit from obtaining a surety bond of around $20,000 – $30,000 to have available when required by contract specifications.

Obtaining Business Insurance for Your Handyman Company

North Dakota mandates all contractors carry certain types of insurance. Insurance is also essential to protect your assets and avoid costly claims as a handyman. Key coverages include:

General Liability Insurance – Required for licensing. Insures against third-party property damage and bodily injury claims. Minimum $100,000 recommended but higher limits provide better protection.

Workers’ Compensation – Mandatory if you have employees. Covers medical bills and lost wages for jobsite injuries.

Business Vehicle Insurance – Needed if using vehicles commercially. Make sure your policy covers business use.

E&O/Professional Liability – Optional coverage that protects against financial loss from professional errors or negligence.

Employment Practices Liability – Optional coverage that protects against employment claims. Recommended if you have employees.

Cyber Insurance – Increasingly important coverage that insures against data breaches, malware, and other digital risks that can harm small businesses.

Work closely with an insurance broker experienced in the trades to ensure adequate handyman business coverage. You’ll need to provide proof of general liability and workers’ compensation when applying for your North Dakota contractor license.

Registering and Operating Your Handyman Business Legally

While a contractor license may not be required for minor handyman work, you still need to take steps to legally register your business and comply with state and local licensing rules. Key requirements include:

  • Choosing a business structure – sole proprietorship, partnership, and LLC are common
  • Registering your business name with the North Dakota Secretary of State
  • Obtaining an EIN from the IRS
  • Registering for state and federal taxes
  • Obtaining any required local licenses – some ND cities require handyman licenses

You’ll also need to register for North Dakota unemployment insurance if hiring employees.

Proper business registration, licensing, and tax compliance legitimizes your handyman operation and shows clients you are running a legal business.

Conclusion – Key Takeaways for North Dakota Handymen

Some key points handymen should understand about contractor licensing and insurance requirements in North Dakota include:

  • Handymen can complete small jobs under $4,000 without a state license
  • Contractor licenses are required for projects over $4,000 and are issued by the Secretary of State
  • You must register your handyman business and obtain an EIN even if not getting licensed
  • Liability insurance and workers comp are mandatory for licensed contractors
  • Licenses must be renewed annually with all requirements submitted on time
  • North Dakota does not offer reciprocity for out-of-state handyman licenses
  • Surety bonds are not required but recommended for larger handyman projects
  • Complying with rules and carrying proper insurance demonstrates you operate a legitimate business

With demand growing for handyman services, understanding North Dakota’s regulations ensures you can take advantage of opportunities to grow your business while protecting your clients and yourself from risk.