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Florida Contractor Licensing

November 17, 2017 Construction Industry Legal Blog

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Florida contractors’ licenses are separated into two distinct types for regulatory purposes, certified or registered.  Each license type has its distinct benefits and drawbacks which should be discussed and weighed with your clients prior to proceeding with the licensure process.

  1. Certified Contractors– are permitted to operate in all Florida cities and counties.  Pursuant to section 489.113(4)(a), F.S., certified contractors are not required to hold a local competency license and are only required to exhibit to the local permitting authority evidence of their current state certification, and to pay occupational license (business tax certificate) and building permits fees required of other persons.  The certified license provides geographic freedom to licensed contractors to solicit business in all Florida jurisdictions and avoids the necessity to obtain multiple local licenses.  However, some clients may find the licensure and examination criteria of local jurisdiction to be more suitable to their circumstances.
  2. Registered Contractors– are only permitted to perform contracting in the cities and counties where they are licensed by the local licensing authority. The local authority issues the contractor a “certificate of competency”, which is then registered with the Department. A Registered contractor’s license should be considered when a client or applicant only intends to operate in a small geographic area.  In addition, registration may be superior to certification when the client’s time constraints will not permit sitting for the statewide certification examination.

Note:  Registration of a local competency license is only required if the local license’s scope of work substantially corresponds to one of the licensure scopes set forth in section 489.105(3)(a)-(p), Florida Statutes.

Much like many other industries, the construction industry has multiple categories of licensures. Each license category has specific limitations or scopes of work which may be performed by an individual or business holding that license. These are set forth in section 489.105(3)(a)-(q), Florida Statutes, and can be divided into three distinct groups: Division I, Division II, and Specialty licenses.

  1. Division I contractors:

Sometimes called structural contractors, Division I contractors have a clear hierarchy of licensure scopes and include:

  • General Contractor- unlimited in the types of structures that they can contract to build. Some government and transportation projects may require additional or separate certification from other agencies in order to perform the request construction work. (i.e. FDOT certification for road and bridge projects.)
  • Building Contractor- limited to residential or commercial structures not exceeding three (3) stories in height and accessory use structures in construction therewith. Can perform non-structural renovations on a building of any size.
  • Residential Contractor- limited to residential structures not exceeding two habitable stories, over not more than one (1) uninhabitable story, and accessory use structures in connection therewith.
  1. Division II Contractors:

Division II contractors make up a much more diverse group of contractors with 13 different categories or scopes of licensure. Unlike Division I contractors, Division II scopes of work can be more difficult to define and may overlap with other Division II license scopes.  Division II contractors include:

  • Sheet metal contractor
  • Roofing contractor
  • Class A air-conditioning contractor
  • Class B air-conditioning contractor
  • Class C air-conditioning contractor (licensed before 10-1-1988)
  • Mechanical contractor
  • Commercial pool/spa contractor
  • Residential pool/spa contractor
  • Swimming pool/spa servicing contractor
  • Plumbing contractor
  • Underground utility contractor
  • Solar contractor
  • Pollutant storage contractor.
  1. Specialty Contractors:

Specialty contractors are created by rule of the CILB or by locally enacted ordinances.  Section 489.105(3)(q), Florida Statutes, defines “specialty contractor” as  a contractor whose scope of work is limited to a particular phase of construction that is a subset of the activities described in one of the scopes of work set forth in 489.105(3)(a)-(p).  As of February, the Board offers twelve (12) certified specialty license categories (such as Gypsum, Irrigation and Marine, Tower and Pool subspecialties). The CILB has recently created the residential pool/spa servicing and Industrial Facilities specialty license categories. Specialty license categories are contained in Chapter 61G4-15, F.A.C. Each local jurisdiction has its own specialty license categories which maybe more extensive in number than those offered by the CILB.  The CILB is currently developing language and rules for the creation of Trenchless Technologies specialty license.

Note: Local specialty licenses are not required to be registered with the Department pursuant to section 489.117(4), Florida Statutes.

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