Does a Carpenter Need to be Licensed?

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Jan 01, 2011 | Mark Stevens

A professional carpenter can build and repair many structures around your home. Whether you live in a warm city like Austin, Texas and you want to build a gazebo, or you just need some new cabinets, a carpenter can construct the item you want according to your exact specifications. However, when selecting a carpenter for the job, make sure you choose someone reliable.

Carpenter Licensing

When it comes to contractor licenses, each state has its own regulations. Most states require some form of licensing – though these are not all the same, and several states do not require any licensing at all. Some states may require a license for carpenters and not for roofers, or vice versa. In some states a carpenter must pass one or more tests and accumulate a certain number of hours of experience, either through on-site work or as an apprentice.

Additionally, some states that require licensing demand that carpenters post a bond of several thousand dollars in order to pay customers if they fail to meet contractual obligations. The exact amount usually depends on the size of the job.

Check your state’s licensing requirements. If your state does require the carpenter to be licensed ask him to provide his license number or show you his license. You can check him out by contacting your local board of contractors. Make sure the name the carpenter gave you matches the number on the license, and that the license is up-to-date.

Advantages of a Licensed Carpenter

If your state provides licenses to carpenters there are several reasons to hire only a licensed professional:

1. If licensing is the law, you’ll be breaking it by employing a non-licensed individual.

2. A licensed carpenter has a certain amount of experience under his tool belt. He has also passed one or more tests, ensuring that he knows the laws and tools of the trade.

3. In the event of a dispute between you and your contractor, the state licensing board can help resolve the issue in your favor because it has leverage over the contractor.

4. A licensed contractor generally must be bonded or have liability  insurance (often both), making you and your home safer.

Tips for Hiring a Reliable Carpenter

In a state that requires carpenters to be licensed, there’s no excuse for hiring someone who isn’t. While licensing may be costly and difficult to attain, a non-licensed contractor cannot offer the same measure of accountability, security and professionalism.

If you live in a state that doesn’t require licensing, be sure to hire a carpenter who has been pre-screened and has good, impartial reviews.

Additionally, ask the carpenter where you can see examples of his workmanship, and then check them out. 

Updated January 14, 2018.

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