Operating a handyman business in Virginia requires meeting certain licensing and insurance requirements. This comprehensive guide provides an overview of the steps to obtain a handyman contractor license, renew your license, and maintain proper insurance coverage.

Introduction to Handyman Licensing in Virginia

Handymen and handyman businesses provide minor home repairs, basic maintenance services, and small home improvement projects for residential and sometimes commercial clients. Typical handyman services may include:

  • Furniture assembly
  • Hanging pictures, curtains, and other decor
  • Cleaning gutters
  • Caulking and weatherizing windows and doors
  • Repairing appliances and electronics like refrigerators, washers, TVs
  • Installing grab bars, railings, and other accessibility features
  • Fixing leaky pipes and faucets
  • Painting interior rooms
  • Assembling pre-made furniture and shed kits

In Virginia, you are not required to have a state license to operate as a handyman if your projects are limited to minor repairs and general maintenance tasks. However, if you want to perform more extensive home improvement services, such as flooring installation or bathroom remodeling, you will need to obtain a contractor license from the Virginia Board for Contractors.

The type of handyman license you need is based on the size and scope of projects you plan to take on:

  • Class C: For single contracts under $10,000 and annual contract values under $150,000
  • Class B: For single contracts $10,000-$120,000 and annual contract values $150,000-$750,000
  • Class A: For single contracts over $120,000 and annual contract values over $750,000

Handypeople typically only require a Class C license for small jobs, while those doing whole home renovations may need a Class B or A license.

Eligibility Requirements for a VA Handyman Contractor License

To become a licensed handyman contractor in Virginia, you must meet the eligibility criteria set by the Board for Contractors.

Establish Your Business Entity

First, you need to establish your handyman business as a recognized legal entity. Your options include:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • General partnership
  • Limited partnership
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • Corporation

You must register your chosen business structure with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. They provide resources for new businesses to help you complete the process.

Select Your Handyman License Class

You must choose which class of contractor license you need based on the size of your potential projects:

  • Class C: The best option for most handymen. It allows you to perform individual jobs up to $10,000 and an unlimited number of jobs annually as long as the total value is under $150,000.
  • Class B: For handymen doing more extensive renovations. It allows individual jobs up to $120,000 and a maximum of $750,000 across all jobs per year.
  • Class A: Rarely needed by handymen. It has no limits on individual job size or annual revenue.

Make sure you select the class that aligns with the scope and revenue goals of your handyman business. Performing jobs that exceed your license limits can lead to penalties.

Pick Your Handyman Specialty

Every contractor license also requires you to designate a specialty that matches the type of work you will perform. For most handymen, the applicable specialties include:

  • HIC – Home Improvement Contracting: Covers remodeling and repairs to existing structures. This allows you to perform most typical handyman jobs.
  • EEC – Electrical Contracting: If you plan to do a significant amount of electrical work.
  • HVA – HVAC Contracting: If you will work on heating and air conditioning systems.
  • PLB – Plumbing Contracting: For handymen who do extensive handyman-related repairs.

Choose the specialty that most closely aligns with your services. The Board for Contractors provides full definitions of specialties in the regulations.

Meet the Experience Requirements

To be approved for a contractor license, you or your designated Qualified Individual must meet Virginia’s experience requirements:

  • Class A: At least 5 years of experience in your specialty
  • Class B: At least 3 years of experience
  • Class C: At least 2 years of experience

This experience must be directly relevant to the specialty you select. For example, if applying for an Electrical Contracting license, your experience must involve electrical work.

You document your experience by submitting a Contractor Experience Verification Form.

Complete Pre-License Education

Applicants for all contractor license classes must complete an 8-hour pre-license course approved by the Virginia Board for Contractors. These courses cover topics like regulations, laws, and general business practices.

The board maintains a list of approved education providers offering pre-license courses. You can choose classroom, online, or correspondence formats.

Pass Required Exams (If Applicable)

The exam requirements depend on your license class:

  • Class C: No exams required
  • Class B: Must pass the “General” and “Virginia” exam sections
  • Class A: Must pass “General,” “Virginia,” and “Advanced” sections

The exams cover business knowledge like laws, regulations, accounting, insurance, and more. They are administered by PSI Services.

Submit Your VA Handyman License Application

Once you meet all requirements, you can submit your application to the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). Here are the key steps:

  1. Fill out the appropriate contractor license application for your class.
  2. Submit the Experience Verification Form documenting your years of experience.
  3. Provide documentation showing completion of your 8-hour pre-license course.
  4. Include exam results if required for your class. Class A and B applicants must pass the exams.
  5. Submit your business registration documents.
  6. Provide photocopies of IDs for all members of Responsible Management.
  7. Calculate and include the license application fee:
  • Class C: $235
  • Class B: $370
  • Class A: $385

It takes the Board approximately 30 days to process and approve complete new license applications. You will receive your license in the mail.

Class A & B Financial Requirements

Applicants for Class A and Class B handyman contractor licenses must also meet financial responsibility requirements.

You must demonstrate at least $45,000 in business net worth for a Class A license or $15,000 for a Class B license.

You can satisfy this requirement by submitting any of the following:

  • Audited or reviewed financial statements
  • Business balance sheet with assets/liabilities
  • IRS Schedule C tax documents
  • Surety bond obtained for the minimum amounts

Class C handyman applicants do not need to submit financial documentation.

Applying to Renew a VA Handyman Contractor License

Handyman contractor licenses in Virginia must be renewed every two years prior to the expiration date printed on your license document.

Renewal Requirements

To renew your handyman contractor license, you must:

  1. Pay the renewal fee to the Board for Contractors:
  • Class C: $195
  • Class B: $205
  • Class A: $225
  1. Certify that you have an active $10,000 surety bond on file if required.
  2. Provide updated Responsible Management information if applicable.

There are no continuing education requirements for renewing a Virginia handyman contractor license.

Renewal Timeline

  • Licenses expire on the last day of the month issued two years prior.
  • You can submit renewal fees and forms up to 60 days before expiration.
  • Licenses can be renewed within 30 days after expiration with no penalty fees.
  • After 30 days, licenses require reinstatement and fees to renew.

You can conveniently renew your handyman license online in most cases. Paper applications are also accepted.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Handyman Licenses

Virginia does not offer reciprocity or licenses by endorsement for handymen licensed in other states. To become a licensed contractor in Virginia, you must meet the full eligibility criteria and apply for a new Virginia license.

However, if you hold an active handyman or contractor license in another U.S. state or territory, you can have your experience credited toward Virginia’s experience requirements.

You will still need to meet exam and education requirements and submit a full new application. There are no exceptions or fast tracks for out-of-state applicants.

Surety Bond Requirements for VA Handymen

Licensed contractors in Virginia are not required to obtain or submit a contractor license bond. However, Class A and B applicants have the option to use a surety bond to fulfill financial responsibility requirements.

If using the surety bond option, it must be at least:

  • $50,000 for Class B license applicants
  • $100,000 for Class A license applicants

The Board provides a Virginia contractor license bond form that must be completed by your surety company.

For license renewal, you only need to certify that your bond remains active. There are no bonding requirements for Class C license holders.

Recommended Insurance for VA Handymen

There are no mandated insurance requirements for handyman contractors under Virginia law. However, it is highly recommended that handymen carry adequate insurance coverage.

Typical recommended policies for handymen include:

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance covers any third-party property damage or bodily injuries caused by your business operations or employees. It helps protect you in the event of:

  • Accidental damage to a client’s home
  • Injuries to anyone visiting a job site
  • Completed operations coverage for future claims

$500,000 per occurrence is a common general liability limit.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Commercial auto insurance covers vehicles used for business purposes. It bundles liability, collision, uninsured motorists coverage and more.

This is recommended for any handyman who drives to job sites. Personal auto policies typically exclude business driving.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation insurance is required in Virginia for handymen with 2 or more employees. It provides benefits for job-related injuries and illnesses.

Even solo handymen with no official employees may want to carry this optional coverage.

Tools & Equipment Insurance

Tools and equipment insurance protects your work-related assets against damage and theft. Handymen have expensive tools vulnerable to loss or damage on the job.

Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial property insurance covers damage to business locations. Handymen can insure shops, garages, or sheds used to store tools, materials, and vehicles.

With proper insurance, handymen can help protect themselves from liability in the event of property damage, injuries, and claims.

Conclusion – Key Takeaways

Becoming a licensed handyman contractor in Virginia involves:

  • Registering your handyman business as a legal entity
  • Selecting your contractor license class based on project size
  • Choosing a specialty like home improvement contracting
  • Meeting experience requirements (2-5 years)
  • Completing pre-license education
  • Passing any required exams for your class
  • Submitting a complete license application with fees to DPOR

For license renewal, you must pay a fee every two years but there are no continuing education requirements. While insurance is not legally required, having policies like general liability and auto insurance can help protect your business.

This guide provides an overview of steps handymen must take to meet state licensing requirements and recommendations on protecting your business with proper insurance. Be sure to consult the Virginia Board for Contractors website for official applications and the most up-to-date information.