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How to Become a General Contractor in Buffalo, New York

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General contractors take the lead on most residential and commercial construction projects. To bid on a contract in the city of Buffalo, New York, contractors must have , insurance, permits for any special work, a contractor's license and a certain amount of prior experience. While the requirements are strict, general contractors can create a sustainable business by following guidelines for licensing, leveraging professional networks, subcontracting when necessary and bidding on projects that focus on their skills and experience.

Gain work experience in a construction field. As a general contractor, your construction experience should be in residential or commercial building, restoration or repair. To gain experience you can pursue training through a local technical or vocational school, an apprentice program after high school, or through a trade association.

Establish your business. To complete the steps required for licensing and permits to function as a general contractor, you will first need to establish your construction business. Establish the business basics including a business address, funding sources and a formal business plan for your operation. This will assist you in the acquisition of future permits and licensing. To learn more about the process for establishing a business in the city of Buffalo, visit the Buffalo Small Business Administration website:

Acquire the proper insurance for your construction business. According to the City of Buffalo's Office of Licenses, for licensing as a general contractor, you must present a certificate of general liability insurance with at least $500,000 in aggregate (or total) coverage. General contractors must also possess worker's compensation insurance covering medical and rehabilitation costs as well as lost wages for any employees injured while on the job.

Seek permits to conduct any specialized work including electrical, heating or plumbing. As you consider your first projects, be sure to seek permits from the city for any specialized construction labor. If you plan to enlist the support of subcontractors for any business, ensure they also possess permits for work where required by the city. License and permit requirements for general contractors and subcontractors are available on the City of Buffalo website:

Apply for and maintain your general contractor license. With your business established and the proper insurance and permits acquired, you can now apply for your general contractor license with the City of Buffalo. Applications should be submitted according to the guidelines indicated in the instruction sheet for contractor licensing available on the city website.

Join a professional organization to get access to new business opportunities, construction projects and business development tools. The Associated General Contractors, New York State chapter is a business network comprised of contractors within your geography. The association provides conferences, industry trends and business leads.


CL Hardy is a communication professional based in Austin, Texas. In addition to writing corporate newsletters, proposals and technical white papers for Fortune 500 clients for more than 12 years, Hardy has been published in "Black Collegian" magazine; her articles on human resources, business and art topics can be found on eHow. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in communication.