General contractors play a vital role in South Carolina’s construction industry. As the manager of the entire construction project, general contractors must ensure all work is completed properly, safely, and according to regulations.

To legally operate as a general contractor in South Carolina, individuals and companies must obtain a license from the South Carolina Contractor’s Licensing Board. This board is part of the state’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR).

Obtaining a general contractor’s license demonstrates that an individual or company has the experience, knowledge, and skills needed to manage construction projects. Licensure also provides consumer protection by screening out unqualified contractors.

This guide will outline the key requirements and steps for obtaining a new general contractor’s license in South Carolina. We’ll also cover license renewal, reciprocity, bond requirements, and insurance needs.

Requirements for a General Contractor License

To qualify for a general contractor’s license in South Carolina, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old: Applicants must be legally recognized as an adult.

  • Prove good character: Applicants cannot have any felony convictions related to construction work in the past 5 years.

  • Show financial responsibility: Applicants must have a net worth of at least $15,000. Proof of net worth may be required.

  • Demonstrate construction experience: Applicants must prove at least 2 years of active experience as a supervisor or manager in the construction industry within the last 5 years. This experience must be verified by current licensees or qualified individuals.

  • Pass required exams: Applicants must pass a business and law exam, as well as a specific trade exam (more details below).

In addition to the above criteria, applicants must submit all required documentation and fees when applying for the license.

Steps to Obtain a New General Contractor License

Follow these key steps to get a general contractor’s license in South Carolina:

1. Establish Eligibility

  • Gather documentation that proves you meet all the requirements outlined above. This includes financial statements, experience verification letters, legal background checks, etc.

  • Have your experience verified by current licensees or other qualified individuals.

2. Apply for the License

  • Submit a completed license application to the Contractor’s Licensing Board. This can be done online or by mail.

  • Pay the $150 application fee.

  • Provide your eligibility documentation. This includes:

    • Financial statement proving $15,000 net worth
    • Experience verification letters
    • Background check consent form
    • High school diploma or GED certificate

3. Pass the Required Exams

  • Applicants must pass 2 exams:

    1. Business and Law Exam
    2. Specific Trade Exam
  • The business and law exam covers general business concepts and state construction regulations. It has 50 multiple choice questions.

  • The specific trade exam covers technical concepts and skills for your desired trade (general contracting, mechanical contracting, etc.). It has 100 multiple choice questions.

  • Exams can be taken at PSI Exams Online. Registration fees are $74 per exam.

  • Reference materials and sample exams are available for study purposes.

  • Exams can be retaken if needed, but additional fees apply.

4. Get License Approval

  • After passing the exams and submitting all documentation, the Contractor’s Licensing Board will review your application.

  • If approved, you will receive your general contractor’s license by mail.

  • The license is valid for 1 year initially.

Steps to Renew a General Contractor License

General contractor licenses must be renewed annually in South Carolina. Follow these steps:

  • Renewal notices are mailed out 60 days prior to the license expiration date.

  • Submit a completed renewal application either online or by mail before the expiration date.

  • Pay the $150 renewal fee.

  • Provide proof of completing the continuing education requirements:

    • 8 hours of continuing education is required annually.

    • At least 2 hours must cover workplace safety topics.

    • Courses must be approved by the Licensing Board.

  • Licenses expire on June 30 each year. Renewals cannot be processed after this expiration date.

  • If a license lapses, you must re-apply and meet all current license requirements.

Reciprocity with Other States

South Carolina offers license reciprocity with several states, allowing contractors licensed in those states to easily obtain a South Carolina license.

The states with license reciprocity include:

  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • City of Reading, Pennsylvania

To get a South Carolina license through reciprocity:

  • Your current license in the qualifying state must be in good standing.

  • Submit a reciprocity application and pay the $150 fee.

  • Provide proof of your current license, including copies of the actual license document.

  • Pass the South Carolina Business and Law exam. The trade exam is waived.

  • licenses obtained through reciprocity have the same renewal requirements (fees, education hours, etc.) as regular licenses.

License Bond Requirements

All licensed general contractors in South Carolina must obtain a $15,000 surety bond. This bond helps protect consumers by allowing them to make claims against the bond if a contractor fails to properly complete a project.

Key requirements for contractor license bonds include:

  • New applicants must submit proof of bond coverage when applying for the license.

  • Bonds must be maintained at all times to keep your license.

  • Bond coverage must remain in place during the renewal process.

  • The State of South Carolina must be listed as the bond obligee.

  • Execution of the bond must comply with state regulations.

  • Bond coverage can be obtained from approved surety companies.

Insurance Requirements

Licensed general contractors must also carry certain insurance policies:

  • General Liability Insurance: At least $100,000 per claim and $300,000 aggregate. Covers third-party bodily injury and property damage claims.

  • Worker’s Compensation: Covers medical expenses and lost wages for job-related employee injuries. Required if you have employees.

  • Builders Risk Insurance: Recommended but not legally required. Covers damage to the construction site and materials.

  • Professional Liability Insurance: Recommended but not legally required. Protects against claims related to poor workmanship or contract disputes.

  • Proof of insurance may be required during the license application process or renewal.

Conclusion

Obtaining a general contractor’s license requires meeting South Carolina’s eligibility criteria, passing two exams, providing bonds and insurance, and renewing the license annually. This process ensures that general contractors have the qualifications needed to operate successfully and safely.

Following the steps outlined here will guide you through acquiring a new general contractor’s license or renewing an existing license. Be sure to check the State Contractor’s Licensing Board website for the most up-to-date forms, fees, testing information, and other requirements.