LLR action clarifies a licensed builder’s qualifications

The S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (LLR) will be sending out the following notice to all building officials in SC.

Dear Code Officials:

Many local codes departments in South Carolina require a Residential Specialty Contractor license/registration in Electrical, Plumbing, or HVAC before issuing a permit for this type of work. In the past, the Commission has issued such licenses/registrations to licensed Residential Builders. Please note, however, that S.C. Code Ann. § 40-59-20(7) specifically states that a residential specialty contractor may not be a licensed residential builder. Therefore, in accordance with the law, the Commission will no longer issue Residential Specialty Contactor licenses/registrations to Residential Builders.

The S.C. Residential Builders exam tests builder applicants on the three mechanical trades of Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC. Therefore, a Residential Builder who received his or her license by exam is qualified to perform work in these trades and will have the designation “RBB” on his or her license and will have as the “Home Builders” as the license type on LLR licensee lookup.

The Commission also licenses Residential Builders without exam in three instances: (1) a passing score on the NASCLA exam; (2) a license issued by the SC Contractors Board; or (3) a license from a state with whom the Commission has an exam waiver agreement. A Residential Builder who received his or her license without exam is not qualified to perform work in the mechanical trades and will have the designation “RB” on his or her license as well as license type on LLR licensee lookup. RB Exam Waiver licensees must subcontract with an appropriately licensed person or company to perform any of the mechanical trades on a project.

I hope this clarifies any questions you may have. Please feel free to contact the Commission with any issues that may arise.

This is not a new policy and does not change any licensing requirements. This issue has been brought up several times in the last few months (either a local municipality trying to exact additional business license fees, or builders who have had their license suspended trying to usurp the suspension).

Sting Nets 73 Cases of Unlicensed Builders/Contractors in State

Investigators for the S.C. Residential Builders Commission (RBC) and S.C. Contractor’s Licensing Board (CLB) found 73 cases of unlicensed activity when they participated in a national sting operation during the week of June 16, 2015.  The sting was in coordination with the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies (NASCLA).

Of the 33 cases that have resulted in public orders so far, three were for companies with Greater Greenville addresses.

Six investigators from the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s (LLR) Office of Investigations and Enforcement and three staff members reviewed internet listings and physically monitored home improvement store parking lots across the state to look for people who were advertising plumbing, electrical, carpentry, HVAC, roofing, home inspecting and other building services requiring licensure by LLR.

“The goal of the sting was to work together with NASCLA and other boards across the country to protect consumers and deter illegal construction activity,” RBC Administrator Janet Baumberger said. “This is the second time we have participated in the sting, and each time we have discovered at least 70 cases. We look forward to participating again to further protect consumers.”

In addition to South Carolina, eight states participated in the sting: Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah and Washington.

“LLR is committed to its mission of protecting the health and safety of South Carolina citizens,” LLR Director Richele Taylor said. “Operations like these help us educate the public on how to protect themselves from unlicensed contractors and highlights the steps individuals must take to become licensed.”

RBC and CLB encourage consumers to check to see if a builder is licensed by going to llronline.com and clicking on Licensee Lookup. RBC licenses all residential builders and home inspectors and licenses/registers all specialty contractors in the state. RBC investigates complaints from homeowners having problems with builders or licensed/registered specialty contractors and, if necessary, takes disciplinary action against them.

Most builders who do home improvement projects will fall under the RBC. However, a contractor might be licensed by the CLB, which regulates the practice of general and mechanical contracting, burglar and fire alarm system businesses and fire protection sprinkler contractors.

“Persons holding themselves out to be a general or mechanical contractor while not licensed presents a threat to the general public,” CLB Administrator Roger Lowe said. “By participating in this operation, it is clear that unlicensed practice presents a very real problem in South Carolina. If a property owner discovers that a potential contractor is unlicensed, we would encourage them to pass that information along to our Office of Investigations and Enforcement. By law, offering to perform regulated work without a license is the same as actually doing the work.”

In addition to making sure a builder is licensed, the RBC and CLB offer the following tips when hiring someone to do work on your home:

  • Ask the builder to provide you with the names and contact information of people he or she worked for in the past. 
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been complaints filed against the builder. 
  • Don’t rely on verbal promises. Ask the builder to provide you with a contract, and read it thoroughly to make sure everything you agreed on is in the document. 
  • Don’t pay all the money upfront. 
  • Beware of any builder or contractor who solicits business saying he or she “has material left over from another job in the area and can give you a real good price.” This is a sign you may be dealing with an unlicensed contractor or scam artist. 
  • Ask the builder, contractor or specialty contractor to provide you with a copy of his or her license or registration. 
  • Click here to verify the individual is currently licensed with the RBC. 
  • Click here to verify the individual is currently licensed with the CLB.
  • Click here to search for any possible disciplinary actions with the RBC.
  • Click here to search for any possible disciplinary actions with the CLB.
  • Call the RBC at 803-896-4696 or the CLB at 803-896- 4686 for assistance in locating an individual. 

For more information on the national sting, click here.

For copies of Cease and Desist orders issued as a result of the sting, click here.  Orders are posted to this site as the Boards receive notice the orders have been served on the individuals.

Yes Virginia, your home builder can pour the sidewalk at your new home

For nearly a year in certain areas of the City of Charleston Licensed Residential Home Builders have not been allowed to supervise the construction of sidewalks or driveways in the city’s right of way.

This situation is the result of an erroneous interpretation of the law by a building official in that city who believed that only a Licensed General Contractor may construct a sidewalk or driveway in the city’s right of way.

On February 13, 2013, representatives of your Home Builders Association from the Charleston area took the matter to the Residential Builders Commission, a department of the S.C. Department of Licensing and Regulation (LLR).  As a result, an attorney for LLR has issued a letter affirming that, “where a sidewalk and driveway apron is to be provided in front of or beside the lot of a one single family residence, in conjunction with the construction or renovation of that residence only, a licensed residential builder or registered residential specialty contractor with the masonry classification (which includes concrete), may perform the work as part of the residential project.”  The letter further states, “this would also apply to the sidewalks and driveway aprons in front of or beside the lots of single family residences constructed by a licensed residential builder on contiguous lots.”

The letter is signed by Georgia L. Lewis, Advice Council for the Residential Builders Commission.

Yes Virginia, your home builder can pour the sidewalk at your new home.

LLR: New License Bond Required Before Renewing Builders License

Residential Builders Commission (LLR) Administrator Janet Baumberger, APM, has announced that a license bond must be in place and on file with LLR for the new license term that begins July 1 before a Home Builder can renew his or her residential builders license effective July 1.  

If your license bond expires on June 30, you must renew it now before you can renew online your license if it expires at the end of this month.  In fact, the bond should be renewed quickly so that your bond is delivered LLR before you attempt to renew your license.

Residential Builders whose license expires on June 30 need to move quickly to obtain a new $15,000 license bond and renew their Residential Builders license.  Click on the links below for the information you need to renew your license.
Click here to renew your license at LLR.state.sc.us.  Don’t forget to download the form to submit your new license bond.
Click here for a list of HBA members who can help you purchase a license bond.  Select Insurance in the Business Activity search criteria area.

LLR: New requirement for performance bond

LLR has announced a new requirement that must be contained by the license bond purchased by many Licensed Residential Builders. The requirement of the license bond is as follows:

“SC law allows home owners who desire to claim against the required Residential Builder licensing bond to use means other than LLR.”

According to LLR, license bonds purchased after October 31, 2011, or upon expiration of an existing bond, must contain the above language.  Historically, license bonds have not contained this provision, even though South Carolina case law requires it.

South Carolina law requires that Licensed Residential Builders post a $15,000 bond as a condition of their license, or submit an audited financial statement in lieu of the bond.