License is a common word in the building industry. People often use the word licensed without really understanding what it means. For those of us who work in the building industry we are constantly asked, “Are you a licensed contractor?” or “Are you a licensed inspector?”

Let’s break down the word licensed for what it means in the State of Ohio. Ohio only requires three trades to carry a state issued license: electrical, plumbing (which includes septic systems installers), and HVAC (heating and air-conditioning). These trades are very complex and have the potential to affect health and safety more than other trades in the industry, so licensing is a must.

Licensed in this usage means that the individual has passed state monitored exams on state code respective to that trade. Passing these exams is not easy and it is to the individual’s credit for passing them. However, they are exams on code rather than on craftsmanship and working knowledge.

In Ohio there is no licensing for trades such as carpentry, roofing, flooring installation, tile, drywall, masonry, painting, landscaping, and building inspection.

Many cities in Ohio require licenses of a different kind. City licensing only gives the individual or company the okay to do business in that city. It does not mean they have passed a code knowledge exam; it just means they have paid the city an annual fee.

As a homeowner seeking a building professional, be sure to select the correct terminology for each type of need. For example, when looking for professionals to install, upgrade, or expand an electrical, plumbing, or heating/air-conditioning system, you want a licensed professional.

When looking for a home inspector, ask if they have been certified and by whom. There are private organizations who offer educational services and inspection certifications to the building industry.

In general, ask your potential contractor, inspector, or other building professional for their qualifications. They should be able to document a track record of success and experience, offer references, show examples of their work, and carry liability insurance.

Keep in mind that there can be overlap in an individual or a company for these various skills, services, and licenses: a company may perform multiple building trades without licensing requirements, but if they perform electrical, plumbing, or HVAC, they must either carry a license in those trades or have employees that do.

Posted November 2, 2018 by chris in General

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