The laws regarding licensing can be a little hard to puzzle out, especially since each state has its own unique set of regulations. In terms of quality and assurance, people generally prefer professional contractors to have a license or permit. In fact, “licensed professional” is perhaps one of the most-used filters people add to their “landscaping near me” searches.
It makes sense that this would be a concern. After all, working with a landscaping contractor or company means letting a bunch of strangers onto your property and paying them for their work. Knowing that they’re legally recognized for their craft can help the anxiety.
Therefore, before you go about searching for the best landscape contractors in your area, it’s best to know the specific licensing requirements of your city or state. Failing to comply with said requirements can lead to intense repercussions on both the homeowner and the contractor; fines, project removal (without compensation), court orders, lack of legal recourse, etc.
That being said, here are some things you should know about landscape contractor licenses.
When Are Licenses Required
The specific answer will vary, depending on your state or county. Though generally speaking, most labor-intensive jobs require a license. For instance:
- Commercial & Residential Contracting
- Commercial & Residential Plumbing
- HVAC (Installation, Repair, Maintenance, etc.)
- Road Works (Department of Transportation)
- Electrical & Gas Works (commercial and residential)
- Hazardous Waste Removal/Remediation
Some states will require all individuals operating in these specific industries to secure a license, regardless of job experience or expertise. Others will base the need for a license on the project price; the dollar amount that includes the total cost of labor, materials, fees, etc.
In the state of California, landscaping contractors will need a license for jobs exceeding $500.00, including labor AND materials. It can be the dollar amount of a single project or multiple related projects totaling this amount.
Licensed or Registered?
In some cases, license and registration might be required. Contrary to popular belief, those two are not the same things.
Being a licensed professional means that you meet a certain set of standards or criteria that prove your expertise and competency in your chosen field. Usually, an exam or series of tests are used to attest your knowledge. The best example would be a driver’s license. An individual can’t be given one legally until they pass both the written test and the practical exam.
A registered professional, on the other hand, refers to a written record stating that Individual A is performing work related to Industry B or Field C. For instance, the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and the American Society of Landscape Architects have official member lists that can be considered registries for landscape contractors in America.
A registered professional doesn’t always mean licensed, and vice versa. A landscape contractor could be registered but not licensed. Simply put, that means he is legally recognized as a contractor (as far as the registry is concerned), but he does not meet the standardized criteria to prove his competence and knowledge in the field of landscaping.
Basically, anyone in California who performs landscaping services—installation, design, etc.—for a project valued at $500.00 or more must have a legal contractor’s license.
So the next time you search for “landscaping near me,” remember to throw in that “licensed” filter as well. Hiring a licensed landscaping contractor ensures you avoid huge financial risks and compromised security. If you must, you can always verify the status of a license through the Contractors State License Board before hiring any candidates.