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How to Become a Residential Contractor

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Residential contractors build and renovate homes or manage such projects from start to finish. The residential contractor typically secures permits, supervises labor and enlists specialized subcontractors such as plumbers and electricians. The residential contractor also schedules required inspections throughout the project and works to remedy any problems that arise. Residential contractors carry great responsibility but most find that the occupation offers a very rewarding career.

Pursue an education in construction management or a more specialized area relating to home construction. A degree is not a requirement for the field, but it will help set you apart from others vying for open positions and available projects.You can also enter the field by finding employment as a construction worker and learning a number of trades including concrete work, masonry, carpentry and hanging drywall.

Enter an internship or an apprentice program to gain valuable experiences, further your education and refine your skills. It is crucial to become adept at applying specific trade skills, such a masonry work or carpentry, and to gain practical construction experience in the residential sector. The average apprenticeship lasts fours years. You can find an internship or apprenticeship program through labor unions or you might approach a professional contractor who is well-established in the field.

Once you have honed your trade skills, look for promotion opportunities. Leadership skills are essential for a potential residential contractor and you should seek manager training and apply for assistant management positions at reputable construction firms. Management gives you valuable experience managing both people and projects. It will also help you make contacts within the industry.

Develop a diverse tool box for the trade. As a residential contractor your jobs will vary and you will take on most phases of work related to building, adding additions and renovating a home. You will need to make a large financial investment in a variety of tools. Start acquiring them while your are studying for your degree, interning and working within the industry.

Obtain specialized certifications in specific construction trades. For example, the Mason Contractors Association of America offers a national Masonry Certification program to qualified masons who meet their standards and pass their examinations. The more certifications you hold, the better your chances of finding success as a residential contractor.

Determine certification requirements and seek licensure in your state. You will find that a variety of organizations offer study materials, courses and seminars to assist you in preparing for the required licensing examinations.

Purchase liability insurance to protect yourself, your company and your customers. Most projects demand you carry adequate insurance. In addition, you will need worker’s compensation coverage and submission of proof is required when registering your business.

Start your own residential contractors firm. Start by accepting small jobs so you can gain a solid reputation. Slowly invest your earnings back into your business until you can purchase the equipment needed to tackle larger projects.

Advertise and market your business. Place ads in various newspaper classifieds sections in your town and surrounding areas. When you complete projects, be sure to ask for referrals from your satisfied clients. Word of mouth is an essential aspect of marketing in the residential contracting business.


Residential contractors need excellent interpersonal skills to cultivate solid relationships with potential customers, employees, suppliers and building inspectors. Taking a few courses to establish those skills could prove crucial to your success.


Do not enter the residential contracting business without understanding cost estimation and bidding. These skills are a central component to success. Without them, you might underbid jobs and lose money or overbid jobs and fail to land projects.