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When homeowners need help with basic repairs and maintenance, they often call on a handyman for help. For those with experience and skills in this area, opening a handyman business can be a lucrative option. If you live in the state of Florida, you do not need a handyman license, but you do need a business license, or a contractor’s license if you are going to perform certain types of work involving construction, plumbing or wiring.
General Florida Law
According to Florida state law, a general handyman does not need a license to perform basic repair and maintenance tasks for homeowners. For example, a handyman can install cabinets or flooring, install an above-ground swimming pool, paint, provide basic yard work or repair drywall. However, a handyman is limited in the services he can provide without a license. Any activity that involves plumbing (such as installing dishwashers), wiring or construction typically requires a contractor’s license. Essentially, anyone hired to build a structure, make changes that alter load-bearing walls, or make any permanent changes to a structure, such as building a roof, needs a contractor’s license. If an unlicensed handyman does work that falls into the scope of a licensed contractor, he or she is subject to fines and prosecution.
While a Florida handyman doesn’t need a license to perform work, he most likely needs a business license if he is receiving compensation for work. Not all Florida counties require that handyman businesses register, but most do. Most counties require business owners to acquire a federal tax identification number (EIN) from the IRS, open a bank account under the business name, and then register as a DBA (doing business as), a limited liability corporation (LLC), or S or C Corporation with their county.
The structure that works best for you depends on the specifics of your business, and it's best to consult with an accountant or attorney to determine which option to choose. Depending on the county, you will likely have to pay a fee for your business license. Contact your county tax collector’s office for specific information on how you can obtain a business license.
Insurance and Permitting
Finally, many homeowners will only hire a handyman who has liability and worker’s compensation insurance. If you are going to open a handyman business, it’s important to seek this coverage. In addition, you need to understand the laws regarding permits for home repairs and maintenance. Typically, the scope of work performed by a handyman does not require a permit, but check before beginning any project. Performing unpermitted work can lead to work stoppages and fines.
An adjunct instructor at Central Maine Community College, Kristen Hamlin is also a freelance writer and editor, specializing in careers, business, education, and lifestyle topics. The author of Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College (Capital Books), which covers everything from career and financial advice to furnishing your first apartment, her work has also appeared in Young Money, Lewiston Auburn Magazine, USA Today, and a variety of online outlets. She's also been quoted as a career expert in many newspapers and magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Parade. She has a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College, and a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.