What type of business needs a Contractor License and how to obtain one

What is considered a Contractor and regulated Under WV Law?

§21-11-3. Definitions.

"Contractor" means a person who in any capacity for compensation, other than as an employee of another, undertakes, offers to undertake, purports to have the capacity to undertake or submits a bid to construct, alter, repair, add to, subtract from, improve, move, wreck or demolish any building, highway, road, railroad, structure or excavation associated with a project, development or improvement, or to do any part thereof, including the erection of scaffolding or other structures or works in connection therewith, where the cost of the undertaking is two thousand five hundred dollars or more.  

Contractor includes a construction manager who performs management and counseling services for a construction project for a professional fee.  

Contractor does not include:  

(1) One who merely furnishes materials or supplies without fabricating or consuming them in the construction project;  

(2) A person who personally performs construction work on the site of real property which the person owns or leases whether for commercial or residential purposes;  

(3) A person who is licensed or registered as a professional and who functions under the control of any other licensing or regulatory board, whose primary business is real estate sales, appraisal, development, management and maintenance, who acting in his or her respective professional capacity and any employee of such professional, acting in the course of his or her employment, performs any work which may be considered to be performing contracting work;  

(4) A pest control operator licensed under the provisions of section seven, article sixteen-a, chapter nineteen of this code to engage in the application of pesticides for hire, unless the operator also performs structural repairs exceeding one thousand dollars on property treated for insect pests; or  

(5) A corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship whose primary purpose is to prepare construction plans and specifications used by the contractors defined in this subsection and who employs full time a registered architect licensed to practice in this state or a registered professional engineer licensed to practice in this state. Employees of such corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship shall also be exempt from the requirements of this article.

What are the different types of Contractors regulated Under WV Law?

"Electrical contractor" means a person who engages in the business of contracting to install, erect, repair or alter electrical equipment for the generation, transmission or utilization of electrical energy. (All employees preforming electrical work are required to be certified and licensed by the State Fire Marshals office. More information from the WV Fire Marshals Office.

"General building contractor" means a person whose principal business is in connection with any structures built, being built or to be built for the support, shelter and enclosure of persons, animals, chattels or movable property of any kind, requiring in the construction the use of more than two contractor classifications, or a person who supervises the whole or any part of such construction.  

"General engineering contractor" means a person whose principal business is in connection with public or private works projects, including, but not limited to, one or more of the following: Irrigation, drainage and water supply projects; electrical generation projects; swimming pools; flood control; harbors; railroads; highways; tunnels; airports and airways; sewers and sewage disposal systems; bridges; inland waterways; pipelines for transmission of petroleum and other liquid or gaseous substances; refineries; chemical plants and other industrial plants requiring a specialized engineering knowledge and skill; piers and foundations; and structures or work incidental thereto.  

"Heating, ventilating and cooling contractor" means a person who engages in the business of contracting to install, erect, repair, service or alter heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment or systems to heat, cool or ventilate residential and commercial structures. (All employees performing HVAC work are required to be certified and licensed by the Division of Labor. More information about HVAC Certification.

"License" means a license to engage in business in this state as a contractor in one of the classifications set out in this article.  

"Multifamily contractor" means a person who is engaged in construction, repair or improvement of a multifamily residential structure.     

"Piping contractor" means a person whose principal business is the installation of process, power plant, air, oil, gasoline, chemical or other kinds of piping; and boilers and pressure vessels using joining methods of thread, weld, solvent weld or mechanical methods.  

"Plumbing contractor" means a person whose principal business is the installation, maintenance, extension and alteration of piping, plumbing fixtures, plumbing appliances and plumbing appurtenances, venting systems and public or private water supply systems within or adjacent to any building or structure; included in this definition is installation of gas piping, chilled water piping in connection with refrigeration processes and comfort cooling, hot water piping in connection with building heating and piping for stand pipes. (All employees preforming plumbing work are required to be certified and licensed by the Division of Labor. More information about Plumber Certification.

"Residential contractor" means a person whose principal business is in connection with construction, repair or improvement of real property used as, or intended to be used for, residential occupancy.  

"Specialty contractor" means a person who engages in specialty contracting services which do not substantially fall within the scope of any contractor classification as set out herein.

Does a project need to be over a specific dollar amount to require a Contractor License?

Work performed under $2,500.00 (materials and labor, total contract not just the work you are performing) does not require a license, other than a West Virginia State Tax Business License. Work over this amount requires you to obtain a Contractor’s License for the type of work being performed.

How do I start the process of becoming a Licensed Contractor?

The following steps must be completed before a contractor license is issued. Please pay special attention to the order in which you must submit your paperwork and take your examinations. The Division of Labor has the forms you will need on the Contractor License Forms Page.  

Five-Step Process

1. To register for your examination(s), complete the examination registration form and submit the form with your examination fees to:

Prov Inc.
200 Association Drive, Suite 190
Charleston, WV 25311
Phone (304) 414-0190 ext. 4
Toll Free (866) 720-7768
Fax (877) 228-3926

Prov Online CandidateTest Registration

Please make cashier’s check or money order for exam fees payable to the testing agent. (No personal checks, company checks or cash)

2. You will receive an admission notice from testing agent 7 to 10 days prior to the examination date you select.

3. Prepare for and take your examination.

4. Scores will automatically be reported to the Contractor Licensing Board within two business days of your examination. Once you have successfully completed your examination(s), you must apply online or mail the completed affidavit form and licensing fee to the West Virginia Contractor Licensing Board. The affidavit certifies that your firm is registered and in compliance:

5. Once you complete your examination(s), submit license application paperwork and license fee payment, your license will be mailed to you.

Qualifier: Who can qualify a company? 

Owner, Officer, Member (as listed with WV Secretary of State) OR a Full-Time Employee (must provide payroll records for the 2 months preceding test date and a letter stating they allow the company to use their scores)

Changing Qualifier?

Notify Contractor Licensing office of new qualifier in writing along with documentation of test scores and any other required support documents (see above).

Testing/Scores: Do scores expire?

Scores do not expire, however they may only be used 3 times. Scores are used to qualify a company, reapply for license or open a new company.

How do I add a classification to my existing license?

Once the required exam has been passed, notify our office in writing (mail or fax) of the passing score and include a request to add the classification to the license. There are no fees (other than the testing fee) associated with this procedure.  

What proof is required for Worker’s Compensation and Unemployment?

If you have employees (other than yourself, partners, members or officers) you must have worker’s compensation and unemployment coverage. If you are an out of state company with no employees that reside in WV, you only need to show/provide copies of your state’s worker’s compensation certificate and the most recent quarterly report showing that you pay into unemployment. If you have employees that reside in WV you must register with the appropriate WV agencies to obtain coverage. Proof of coverage must be submitted with the renewal in order to be processed. If you are renewing online please fax the documents to (304)558-5174.  

Application Process and Requirements: Do I need to include the Wage Bond Status Affidavit?

Yes. All applicants, regardless of status, must complete this form and include it with the application for Contractor’s License. License will NOT be processed without this form. Applicant must be in good standing with all required agencies (Secretary of State, Tax-Business Registration, Worker’s Compensation and Unemployment) before a license will be issued.  

How long will it take to get my license?

The time required varies depending on how long it takes to complete registration with the other agencies. Once the application is received in the Licensing office the license is usually issued within ten to fifteen working days via mail, or same day if brought to the office (provided everything is in compliance). Please Note that CASH is NOT ACCEPTED.

Testing: I’ve tested, what do I do next?

The Licensing office is the last step in the process. Registration must be completed with all other agencies (Secretary of State—if applicable, WV State Tax Department, Worker’s Compensation—if applicable, and Unemployment—if applicable) before application can be made and processed for Contractor License.  

How do I know which test to take?

Contact the Contractor’s Licensing office to confirm which tests need to be taken. All contractors must take the WV Business & Law exam. Information on the other exams is available on this site.  

How do I find out about scheduling tests, study guides and test fees?

Contact Prov (866-720-7768).

Does West Virginia offer Reciprocity in order to obtain a license?

The ONLY reciprocity agreements are with North Carolina and Ohio, Master Electrical only.  

How do I change my address/phone number?

Notify the Contractor Licensing office in writing (mail or fax) with requested changes.

How do I change the name of my company (as listed on the Contractor’s License)? 

All name changes (keeping the same FEIN) must be completed with all other agencies (Sec. Of State, Tax, Workers Comp and Unemployment) before the change can be made to the license. Once completed with other agencies notify Contractor’s Licensing office in writing of the request to change the name, and include supporting documents from other agencies.  

How do I change the status of my company (Sole Proprietor to LLC etc)?

Call Contractor’s Licensing office to request a status change letter/packet which details the process and required documents. Make sure to leave current license number, address, and what change you are making.                

Can a copy of my license be faxed? We cannot fax a Contractor’s License, however we can fax a status letter that states the license is active and what classifications are listed.                

How do I get a “handyman” license?

Contractor Licensing does not issue a handyman license. Work performed under $2,500.00 (materials and labor, total contract not just the work you are performing) does not require a license, other than a West Virginia State Tax Business License. Work over this amount requires you to obtain a Contractor’s License for the type of work being performed.

Can I get a temporary license?

No, the state of West Virginia does not issue temporary licenses.

I am not registered with a DBA, why is my company name listed in the DBA field on my license?

At this time our system automatically fills in the company name if you do not request to be licensed with a separate DBA. If you are registered in other state agencies with a DBA other than your company name, it must also appear on your Contractor’s License.  

Who is the “License Holder”?

The license holder is the person who took the qualifying exam(s).  

If I am a subcontractor receiving less than $2,500.00 for a job do I need a Contractor’s License?

Yes, Licensing requirements are based on the total contract for the project, not just the individual portions.  

Renewing Licenses: How do I know when to renew my license?

Contractor Licenses renew each year at the date listed on the license. Renewal notices are mailed approximately 30 days prior to serve as a reminder, however they are not required in order to renew.  

How do I renew my license?

You can mail a check or money order for $90.00 to our office (with the renewal form and/or license number listed on check) or you may renew online with a credit card at www.labor.wv.gov. ***Note*** Licenses renewed more than 15 days after the renewal date incur a $25.00 late fee. Licenses expired for more than 90 days, require that you reapply (no testing is required provided your original scores have not been used more than 3 times). Grandfathered licenses that are allowed to go over 90 days, require examination before new license can be issued. Applicant must be in good standing with all required agencies (Secretary of State, Tax-Business Registration, Worker’s Compensation and Unemployment) before a license will be renewed.

When you obtain a WV contractor license, these are some requirements you should know.

If you have questions about these or other related topics, contact the WV Division of Labor at (304) 558-7890.   

The contractor license number must appear in all advertisements and on all contracts.   

The license must be posted in a “conspicuous position” at construction sites.   

No license may be used by any person other than the person to whom the license is issued.   

Local building permits cannot be issued to any contractor who does not possess a valid license if the total cost of a job is $2,500 or more.   

If a license is renewed more than 15 days after the expiration date, a $25 penalty fee is charged in addition to the annual $90 renewal charge.   

A license which has lapsed for 90 days or more cannot be renewed.   

No persons licensed under the provisions of this Code may perform contracting work of an aggregate value of ten thousand dollars or more, including materials and labor, without a written contract setting forth a description and cost of the work to be performed, signed by the licensee and the person for whom the work is to be performed.   

The ONLY reciprocity agreements approved by the Contractor Licensing Board are with North Carolina and Ohio. These agreements are for electrical classification ONLY (Master Electrician).

More Information On Contractor License

 

1900 Kanawha Boulevard East | State Capitol Complex - Building 3, Room 200 | Charleston, WV 25305
Ph: (304) 558-7890