Construction businesses who fail to register under the new Builders Law could find themselves unable to get permits for their projects after the end of July.

The Builders Board is urging all construction and trade companies to submit their applications to the board as soon as possible.

Dave Johnston, a member of the board, said the message to businesses was simple: “Register your company. It is not difficult, it is not expensive. Don’t get left behind and get put in a predicament where you want to pull a permit and cannot.”

The Builders Law was introduced last year and the board has been reviewing applications based on the grandfathering process of registration in various categories for existing construction entities.

Builders can apply to be licensed in five categories covering the full range of businesses, from small trades contractors to major contractors responsible for 10-story hotels or major national infrastructure works.

Heber Arch, chairman of the Builders Board, said the response so far had been excellent with a “very small amount” of complaints from those who could not get registered in the category they wanted.

He said, “The grandfathering process is based on experience and qualifications. We can’t look at what you think you can do or what you want to do in the future. It is based on experience and qualifications at the time of the application.”

Companies will be licensed to work only in the category for which they are approved.

After some initial opposition to the law from within the industry, Mr. Arch believes the system is now being well received.

“We haven’t had too many problems so far,” he said. “Construction entities cannot get approved if they don’t meet the requirements.”

Mr. Johnston said companies would be able to move up from one category to the next. After the implementation period, the only way to be registered in any category will be to have a “qualifying individual” on staff, who will be required to take exams, organized locally but certified by the International Code Council.

He said the intent was to professionalize the industry and ensure companies advertising as contractors could complete jobs on time and on budget.

“Twenty years ago, you could do contracts on a handshake, but times have changed and it does not work anymore,” Mr. Johnston said. “We have gone from five, six, seven to 10 stories and it requires qualified and experienced individuals with the proper qualifications.”

Builders can apply to be licensed in five categories, from small trades contractors to major contractors responsible for 10-story hotels or major national infrastructure works. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Mr. Arch said the goal was consumer protection. He said the new system would ensure contractors were only doing the type of work they were qualified to do and that they carried the necessary liability insurance.

He insisted the board had no role in setting or controlling process.

“There is no need for that,” he said. “We have 1,040 construction companies carrying Trade and Business Licenses, so there is a tremendous amount of competition between contractors.”

He said the financial demands of the new system were small – a $75 application fee – and urged contractors to apply as soon as possible.