8 Steps To Starting Your Own Contractor Business In North Carolina

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Do you prefer working with your hands? Are you most content at work when building or solving a household problem? A career as a general contractor may be right for you. Even better, you can start your own business once you get a few years of contracting experience. This gives you control over the prices you charge, your work schedule, and how you manage projects.

Why start a general contracting business in North Carolina?

North Carolina can be a great place to start a general contractor business for many reasons.  Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the state has experienced an increase in full-time residents, with almost 366,000 people moving to the state in 2021 alone. As more people move to the area, the demand for housing and other amenities increases.

North Carolina can be a great place to start a general contractor business for many reasons.  Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the state has experienced an increase in full-time residents, with almost 366,000 people moving to the state in 2021 alone. As more people move to the area, the demand for housing and other amenities increases.
North Carolina is also an extremely popular tourist destination. Places like Raleigh, Greensboro, Wilmington, and the Outer Banks bring in over 40 million tourists each year. More tourists in the state mean they ended general contractors to work on projects like hotels, restaurants, and shops.
Of course, North Carolina is also within hurricane territory. Hurricanes may be less common here than in more southern states, but they still do happen. North Carolina residents may remember Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Irene, and Hurricane Fran. General contractors plan an important role in restoring communities following hurricane damages.
How To Become a General Contractor In North Carolina
Start your own general contracting business in North Carolina with the following steps:
1- Understand the Laws
Understanding the requirements of becoming a general contractor in the state in which you want to work is the first step toward becoming one. General contractors complete a wide range of services for residential or commercial business customers.
North Carolina requires contractors who work on projects with a cost of over $30,000 to have a State General Contractors License. Projects under that don’t require a professional license. This means if you plan to complete work in the state of North Carolina valued at over $30,000 per project, you’ll need to have the proper licensing.
You can choose between either a Residential or Building Contractor license. The state also requires general contractors to be at least 18 years and demonstrate good moral character.
The North Carolina Licensing Board regulates all general contractors in the state.
2- Research Licensing Requirements
A Building General Contractor license allows you to work on all building construction and demolition projects. This may include projects like building parking decks, paving parking lots, installing or upgrading storm drainage, or working on indoor or outdoor recreational sites. A Residential General Contractor license allows you to complete most construction projects in a residential setting.
North Carolina also requires interested general contractors to have at least two years of work experience. In some cases, military experience can be counted toward the experience requirements.
3- Submit Application
North Carolina requires interested general contractors to first apply before taking the exam. This ensures that you meet all work and educational requirements before wasting your time studying for and taking the test. You can apply to the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors.
This is also the same webpage where you can find information on other licensed general contractors in your area. License and registration fees are non-refundable, so it’s important that you submit a complete application the first time. The application fee varies, depending on the license you’re pursuing, but it is somewhere between $75-$125.
4- Choose an Exam Prep Course and Study
Choosing the right exam prep company can help you obtain your professional license. A class focusing specifically on getting an NC general contractor license ensures you get all the information you need to get your licensure. 
The North Carolina General Contractor exam covers a wide range of topics, including math/calculations, site work requirements, concrete projects, thermal and moisture protection, and doors and windows. An online exam prep course allows you to take mock exams so you can focus on learning topics in which there’s room for improvement.
You’ll also get access to a support team who can help you prepare for your exam. The North Carolina General Contractor Exam is also primarily open-book, and choosing a class with helpful resources is beneficial. Even better, an educator who offers a No Pass No Pay guarantee can ensure you get your license or your money back.
5- Take the Exam
You have a few options available to obtain your North Carolina General Contractor license. The trade exam or the NASCLA (National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies) and Business Law exam. The NASCLA exam may offer better reciprocity eligibility, meaning you can expand your work to other states. 
Successful completion of the NASCA exam leads to a national certification that’s accepted by 17 state boards in the United States. The U.S. states participating in the NASCLA agreement include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. The agreement also includes the Virgin Islands.
All tests are multiple-choice, with the number of questions depending on the exam. How long you have to complete the test also varies between 90-330 minutes. North Carolina allows aspiring general contractors to take the test up to three times. However, you have to wait at least 90 days between tests.
6- Ensure You Meet All the Other Obligations and Apply for Your License
Once you successfully complete the exam, you’ll need to apply for your license. During this step, you may also want to register your business entity. North Carolina, as well as other states, also have financial requirements. These requirements protect you and your customers from personal injuries or property damages. In North Carolina, your financial requirements depend on your license type.
If you have a limited license, the state board requires at least $17,000 of working capital, $80,000 net worth, or $350,000 in a Surety Bond. An intermediate license requires slightly more capital; $75,000 in working capital or $1M in a Surety Bond. An unlimited license, which is the highest available in North Carolina, requires at least $150,000 working capital or a $2M Surety Bond. In the two higher-level licenses, the working capital must be proven through an audited financial statement or document.
Working capital refers to your total assets minus current liabilities. You can determine your eligibility for this requirement with the following calculation:
Working Capital = Total Current Assets - Total Current Liabilities.
7- Begin Working as a General Contractor
Once you get your General Contractor license with the state of North Carolina, you can start working.
One of the perks of getting a general contractor license in North Carolina is that the state has reciprocity agreements with other states. This means you can work in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi without having to take the exam again. You will, however, still have to apply for your license. If you pass the exam, you can usually expect to receive your license within 30 days.
Some general contractors may join another company, whereas others might market their services to earn more leads. Some new contractors may take a few marketing classes to learn how to earn more business.
8- Keep Up With Continuing Education Requirements
North Carolina requires all general contractors to complete at least eight hours of continuing education each year. Your license expires on November 30th of each year, so you’ll need to complete these hours by then, regardless of when you first got your license. 
Two of the eight continuing education hours cover information about any new state laws or licensure changes in North Carolina. The additional six hours are elective, meaning you can choose topics most relevant to you and your career. It’s usually a good idea to choose classes that help you in your day-to-day work.
It’s also important to note that a general contractor's license only allows you to complete generalized work. You may need a different license if you want to work on more specific projects, like ones that involve structural or foundation work. Make sure you understand the scope of work before accepting a project to ensure your license allows it. Otherwise, you could put yourself at risk of expensive fines and penalties.
Studying and completing an exam are just two of the requirements for becoming a general contractor in North Carolina. Even once you’ve completed your exam, you’ll need to submit an application with the state disclosing your financial records. North Carolina has strict requirements to ensure all general contractors know what they’re doing and to minimize any risk to residential or commercial owners.
Getting ready for the exam is one of the most important steps toward becoming a general contractor, and the study class you choose can make all the difference in the world. The good news is that once you do get your license, you should enjoy consistent business and exceptional job security, especially when working in North Carolina.

North Carolina is also an extremely popular tourist destination. Places like Raleigh, Greensboro, Wilmington, and the Outer Banks bring in over 40 million tourists each year. More tourists in the state mean they ended general contractors to work on projects like hotels, restaurants, and shops.

Of course, North Carolina is also within hurricane territory. Hurricanes may be less common here than in more southern states, but they still do happen. North Carolina residents may remember Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Irene, and Hurricane Fran. General contractors plan an important role in restoring communities following hurricane damages.

How to become a general contractor In North Carolina

Start your own general contracting business in North Carolina with the following steps:

1. Understand the laws

Understanding the requirements of becoming a general contractor in the state in which you want to work is the first step toward becoming one. General contractors complete a wide range of services for residential or commercial business customers.

North Carolina requires contractors who work on projects with a cost of over $30,000 to have a State General Contractors License. Projects under that don’t require a professional license. This means if you plan to complete work in the state of North Carolina valued at over $30,000 per project, you’ll need to have the proper licensing.

You can choose between either a Residential or Building Contractor license. The state also requires general contractors to be at least 18 years and demonstrate good moral character.

The North Carolina Licensing Board regulates all general contractors in the state.

2. Research licensing requirements

A Building General Contractor license allows you to work on all building construction and demolition projects. This may include projects like building parking decks, paving parking lots, installing or upgrading storm drainage, or working on indoor or outdoor recreational sites. A Residential General Contractor license allows you to complete most construction projects in a residential setting.

Research licensing requirements

North Carolina also requires interested general contractors to have at least two years of work experience. In some cases, military experience can be counted toward the experience requirements.

3. Submit application

North Carolina requires interested general contractors to first apply before taking the exam. This ensures that you meet all work and educational requirements before wasting your time studying for and taking the test. You can apply to the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors.

This is also the same webpage where you can find information on other licensed general contractors in your area. License and registration fees are non-refundable, so it’s important that you submit a complete application the first time. The application fee varies, depending on the license you’re pursuing, but it is somewhere between $75-$125.

4. Choose an exam prep course and study

Choosing the right exam prep company can help you obtain your professional license. A class focusing specifically on getting an NC general contractor license ensures you get all the information you need to get your licensure. 

The North Carolina General Contractor exam covers a wide range of topics, including math/calculations, site work requirements, concrete projects, thermal and moisture protection, and doors and windows. An online exam prep course allows you to take mock exams so you can focus on learning topics in which there’s room for improvement.

You’ll also get access to a support team who can help you prepare for your exam. The North Carolina General Contractor Exam is also primarily open-book, and choosing a class with helpful resources is beneficial. Even better, an educator who offers a No Pass No Pay guarantee can ensure you get your license or your money back.

5. Take the exam

You have a few options available to obtain your North Carolina General Contractor license. The trade exam or the NASCLA (National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies) and Business Law exam. The NASCLA exam may offer better reciprocity eligibility, meaning you can expand your work to other states. 

Take the exam

Successful completion of the NASCA exam leads to a national certification that’s accepted by 17 state boards in the United States. The U.S. states participating in the NASCLA agreement include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. The agreement also includes the Virgin Islands.

All tests are multiple-choice, with the number of questions depending on the exam. How long you have to complete the test also varies between 90-330 minutes. North Carolina allows aspiring general contractors to take the test up to three times. However, you have to wait at least 90 days between tests.

6. Ensure You meet all the other obligations and apply for your license

Once you successfully complete the exam, you’ll need to apply for your license. During this step, you may also want to register your business entity. North Carolina, as well as other states, also have financial requirements. These requirements protect you and your customers from personal injuries or property damages. In North Carolina, your financial requirements depend on your license type.

If you have a limited license, the state board requires at least $17,000 of working capital, $80,000 net worth, or $350,000 in a Surety Bond. An intermediate license requires slightly more capital; $75,000 in working capital or $1M in a Surety Bond. An unlimited license, which is the highest available in North Carolina, requires at least $150,000 working capital or a $2M Surety Bond. In the two higher-level licenses, the working capital must be proven through an audited financial statement or document.

Working capital refers to your total assets minus current liabilities. You can determine your eligibility for this requirement with the following calculation:

Working Capital = Total Current Assets - Total Current Liabilities.

7. Begin working as a general contractor

Once you get your General Contractor license with the state of North Carolina, you can start working.

One of the perks of getting a general contractor license in North Carolina is that the state has reciprocity agreements with other states. This means you can work in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi without having to take the exam again. You will, however, still have to apply for your license. If you pass the exam, you can usually expect to receive your license within 30 days.

Some general contractors may join another company, whereas others might market their services to earn more leads. Some new contractors may take a few marketing classes to learn how to earn more business.

8. Keep up with continuing education requirements

North Carolina requires all general contractors to complete at least eight hours of continuing education each year. Your license expires on November 30th of each year, so you’ll need to complete these hours by then, regardless of when you first got your license. 

Keep up with continuing education requirements

Two of the eight continuing education hours cover information about any new state laws or licensure changes in North Carolina. The additional six hours are elective, meaning you can choose topics most relevant to you and your career. It’s usually a good idea to choose classes that help you in your day-to-day work.

It’s also important to note that a general contractor's license only allows you to complete generalized work. You may need a different license if you want to work on more specific projects, like ones that involve structural or foundation work. Make sure you understand the scope of work before accepting a project to ensure your license allows it. Otherwise, you could put yourself at risk of expensive fines and penalties.

Studying and completing an exam are just two of the requirements for becoming a general contractor in North Carolina. Even once you’ve completed your exam, you’ll need to submit an application with the state disclosing your financial records. North Carolina has strict requirements to ensure all general contractors know what they’re doing and to minimize any risk to residential or commercial owners.

Getting ready for the exam is one of the most important steps toward becoming a general contractor, and the study class you choose can make all the difference in the world. The good news is that once you do get your license, you should enjoy consistent business and exceptional job security, especially when working in North Carolina.

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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