Application Requirements & Process

Board for Licensing Contractors

*No Examination is Required*

  1. Application fee: $250.00 (two (2) year license; check made payable to "Home Improvement"
  2. Address - If listing a P.O. Box for mailing address, must also provide a physical address of the business
    • Law requires providing an alternate address ,other than for the business for the owners.
  3. Name on License - Cannot get a license in the same or similar name of an existing licensee (check the "License Search" tool. Also check with the Secretary of State's office for registered names. Licenses cannot be issued for "Assumed Names". Must operate in exact name as licensed which is as listed on the bond.
    • Secretary of State's - Provide proof of registration with Tennessee. T.C.A., Title 48 - Requires all contractors and subcontractors, that are domestic or foreign Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Limited Partnerships, or Limited Liability Partnerships, to be in good standing with the Secretary of State. This includes being duly incorporated, authorized to transact business, and/or in compliance with other requirements as detailed by the Secretary of State. See also "Business Tax" for local government licenses.
  4. Bonding or proof of financial responsibility in the amount of $10,000 in ONE of the following forms (the license is issued in the exact name of the entity/ individual and mode of operation as on the bond): 
    • Surety Bond (with written Power of Attorney attached from Insurance Company); or 
    • Cash Bond; or
    • Property Bond; or 
    • Irrevocable Letter of Credit (ILOC)

      Note: Bonds and ILOC's cannot be released for one (1) year. In addition, the Board may require additional financial information as outlined in the Rules and Regulations.
  5. Proof of Insurance
    • General Liability - in the minimum amount of at least $100,000; and
    • Workers' Compensation - required for each employee and they must be covered in Tennessee. Owner(s) as the employer, may be required to cover themselves, unless, they fall within the exemptions in the law or they may register for an exemption.
  6. Disclosure of all the following is required: unlicensed activity, judgments, complaints, licenses, businesses, addresses, revocations, experience, etc., as requested on the application. Failure to disclose may cause the license to be denied. Provide copy of photo ID (DL).
  7. Information of any and all addresses of entity and owners is required. Each business location may be required to be licensed, depending on the county where work is performed. 
  8. Supply a copy of the written contract to be used when contracting with consumers. The law requires all contracts to be in writing with very specific language (see T.C.A. 62-6-508). Cannot require more than 1/3 down payment. Failing to complete work without refunding money may be considered a felony by theft (see T.C.A. § 39-14-105). See important new guidelines effective July 1, 2012, relative to contract requirements in order to be paid by insurance companies, including, providing a 3 day cancelation clause, as outlined in Public Chapter 821.
  9. An interview with the Board may be required if the application is submitted incomplete with discrepancies; does not list current experience; record of complaints, including those with other agencies; judgments; felony convictions; and for violating the law. A license may be denied or revoked for failing to disclose all information as required by law. Applicants will be notified of the time, date and location if the Board requests an appearance.
  10. Issuance of a license must be approved by the Board. Applications are due by the 20th of the month prior to the Board meeting date (see the Calendar for meeting dates) to ensure they are reviewed for completeness prior to the meeting. n order for a license to be issued prior to the meeting, the contractor would need to provide a written request for an emergency review and provide an explanation with their complete application, and a temporary license may be granted if approved by a designated Board member. 
  11. Be sure to read the rules and law. These include important contract requirements, advertising and payment guidelines.
  12. You may check status of license issuance at:  http://verify.tn.gov/ (Do not contract, offer, bid, provide estimates, solicit business or perform work until first licensed.)
  13. The Board must be notified within 30 days when there is a change of ownership, address or other changes with the license entity.

Download the Home Improvement Application [pdf]

Felony Conviction/ Judgments / Disclosures

Conviction does not automatically preclude someone from licensing, however, it does require the full Board's approval. If you have been convicted of a felony in any jurisdiction (Tennessee or any state); or if you have had disciplinary action against another professional license; court judgments; or complaints, you must attach a statement explaining the details of the action (Conviction - provide the charging document, the disposition and proof of any sentence or court order and release of probation, provide a criminal back-ground summary to show history since conviction. Other - judgments/complaints - provide details in writing and any court ruling). In some cases, the Board may may request appearance before the Board which meets at least six (6) times annually. The Board is charged with protecting the safety and welfare of the public and they will judge each individual case on it's own merit. Typically, a person who is still on probation will not be granted a license.

The law requires disclosure of felonies, as well as any court litigation, pending law suits, complaints with other agencies, or judgments relative to home improvement. A license is not automatically denied due to judgments and convictions, however, failure to disclose is a violation of law. A civil penalty may be assessed for not providing true and correct information, as well as the license being denied or the renewal revoked.

License Issuance

Upon approval of your completed application, a permanent license will be mailed. Applications must be submitted correctly and complete. The license is issued to the entity named on the financial responsibility, such as the bond. Therefore, all documents must be in this exact name and mode of operation. Any discrepancies on the application may hold up the review and approval process. Our staff will review before presenting to the Board for approval to ensure everything is in order, however, if incomplete or discrepancies are found during the Board review, an interview may be required at the Board's next regularly scheduled meeting before the license can be considered. Once the license is issued, please display in a noticeable place at your business location and list your license I.D. number in advertisements. Never require the consumer to pay for the project prior to completion. The law allows 1/3 down payment to begin the project and contracts must be in writing with strict language requirements. A contractor who accepts money and fails to perform the work within 90 days, may be prosecuted for a felony, unless they refund the money. See Public Chapter 1055.

Effective July 1, 2009, licenses are issued biennially (two year renewal cycle); cannot be renewed if expired in excess of 90 days and would need to reapply by supplying a new bond, insurance and application.. License is considered invalid upon bond cancelation. This license is for projects where the total cost or contract is more than $3,000 to less than $25,000 (larger projects require a "Contractor's" license) and a home improvement license does not cover electrical, gas, mechanical, *HVAC or plumbing, where separate trade licenses are required. If you are a corporation, LLC or Limited Partnership, always ensure you are actively registered with the Tennessee Secretary of State. You should receive a license renewal within 90 days of expiration. However, you must notify the Board of any address change, as state mail is not forwarded. The Board must be notified of any changes, including ownership of the entity. The license is not transferable to the new owner(s). If you do not receive a renewal in the mail, you may download a renewal from the website at the Forms Download section. Fees cannot be submitted online, at this time. Be sure to be knowledgeable of all laws, rules and regulations.

*HVAC contractors may be regulated at the local level and if not, the Home Improvement license may be required in order to perform HVAC. (See T.C.A. 62-6-503)

Bonds / Irrevocable Letter of Credits (ILOC)

A home improvement contractor's bond or ILOC filed with our Board for obtaining and renewing a license cannot be released to the contractor for 12 months after their initial request to replace, withdraw, or until after the license has been expired for one (1) year. This is to ensure all prior projects are covered. Therefore, if providing a cash or property bond, please keep this in mind since it cannot be released.

The bond is public information and consumers may request to file against the bond. If anytime the bond is terminated, the license is considered invalid. (See T.C.A. 62-6-506) Consumers may request a copy of the bond and insurance, and it is a matter of public record.

New Contract Requirements

Home Improvement licensed contractors must ensure their contracts are as follows:

  1. Contracts must be in legible writing and contain the complete agreement between the owner and the home improvement contractor;
  2. State the full names and addresses of all parties, the license number of the home improvement contractor, the date when executed by the parties and contain a description of the work to be done and the goods to be used;
  3. Be completed in full without any blank spaces to be filled in after the contract is signed by the owner and clearly describe any other documents which are to be incorporated, and shall contain the following notice directly above the space provided for the signature of the owner: "NOTICE TO OWNER: Do not sign this contract if blank. You are entitled to a copy of the contract at the time you sign";
  4. Contain the approximate dates when the work will begin and be substantially completed;
  5. Contain the agreed upon consideration for the work;
  6. Contain a notice that all home improvement contractors must be licensed by the board and that any inquiries about a contractor should be transmitted to the board's office;
  7. Contain all other matters upon which the parties lawfully agree; and
  8. Not contain any power of attorney to confess judgment.  No sales person, agent or employee of the home improvement contractor shall be authorized to make any changes in the agreement on behalf of the owner.
  9. Roofing Services Contracts for Insurance Payment Requirements (Effective July 1, 2012)
    • This law applies only to roofing contractors being paid by insurance companies, to include specific consumer protection language in their contract: 1) Right to cancel within 3 days; 2) Contact information: Address, Telephone #, Fax #, License #, Email Address; 3) Detailed Description of Repairs; and 4) Must refund any monies paid prior to cancelation of the contract, within 10 days. See Public Chapter 821 for more information in the law.

Home Improvement Advertisement Requirements

The law requires home improvement licensed contractors to include their license ID number and type of license held, anytime they advertise as "licensed". (For example, anyone advertising as "Licensed, Bonded and Insured" would need to also include "Home Improvement License ID# 0123"). Residential and Commercial licensed contractors are exempt.

Prohibited Acts

  • See T.C.A. 62-6-510 relative to prohibited acts from a home improvement licensed contractor. The following is a summary:
  • Abandonment or Willful Failure to Perform;
  • Misrepresentation or False Promise of Character to Influence;
  • Fraud or Material Alteration of the Contract;
  • Preparing or Accepting any Mortgage or Promissory Note with Greater Monetary Obligation;
  • Violation of Other Laws (Local Government's, Workers Compensation Insurance, Labor, etc.);
  • Misrepresentation of Facts by Applicant in Obtaining a License;
  • Failure to Notify the Board of any Change of Control in Ownership, Business Name or Location;
  • Operating in a Name Other than as Licensed;
  • Advertising as Licensed without Referencing Appropriate License Number
  • Failure to Comply with any Order, Demand or Requirement Lawfully made by the Board
  • The Demand for any Payments Prior to the Signing of a Home Improvement Contract;
  • Requiring more than 1/3 of the Contract Price for a Deposit, unless:
    • The contract allows for the contractor to furnish a performance and payment bond, lien and completion bond, or bond equivalent covering full performance; or
    • Advised in writing of the right to withhold final payment up to 100% before completion and the owner agrees of a schedule.
  • Making false or Deceptive Representations in any Advertisement or Solicitation of Sponsorship with a bank, Savings and Loan;
  • Using the Name or Logo of any Bank without Written Consent;
  • Having Controlling Ownership in the Lender Providing Loan;
    • Accepting anything of value for the referral of a borrower to the lender; or
    • Being a Cosigner or Guarantor for a loan; or
    • Acts prohibited from the Consumer Protection Act defined in T.C.A. Title 47, Chapter 18, Part 1.

NOTICE: Failing to perform the work within 90 days after payment, may be considered theft unless money is refunded. See new felony statute.

Roofing Services Contracts and Insurance Payment Requirements (Effective July 1, 2012)

Note: For projects $25,000 or more, a contractor's license is required (licensed residential and commercial contractors are exempt from home improvement law requirements). A home improvement license is not required for new residences or commercial projects, less than $25,000.   Home improvement license does not cover electrical, *hvac or plumbing.  As always, please check with you local codes office. If you have a contractor's license to perform residential, you do not have to obtain a separate home improvement license. See "Local Government" for contact information.

*HVAC contractors may be regulated at the local level and if not, the Home Improvement license will be required in order to perform HVAC. (See T.C.A. 62-6-503)

Lead Abatement

Lead abatement remodelers are required to be certified through the Department of Environment and Conservation and may be contacted at 1-888-871-5323 or their web site.

Quick facts on EPA’s Renovation Repair and Painting (RRP)
Fully effective on April 22, 2010  - Firms must be certified, workers must be trained, and follow specific lead-safe work practices for work performed in pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities, if lead paint is disturbed, impacts general contractors, carpenters, painters, electricians, plumbers, “handymen”, window and door replacement crews, etc.

Time Line for Lead Abatement Requirements
Now – Contractors that disturb paint in buildings built prior to 1978 must distribute EPA’s new"Renovate Right" brochure, (Renovate Right is available at: http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovaterightbrochure.pdf
Summer 2009 – Appropriate staff can take training course to become certified, once trainers are accredited. October 2009 – Firms can apply for EPA or state certification.
April 2010 – Businesses engaged in renovation, repair or painting activities in buildings built prior to 1978 must be certified, use trained workers, and follow specific lead-safe work practices to prevent lead contamination.

For more information, the Environmental Protection Agency's website is at: www.epa.gov/lead