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Idaho General Contractor License: How to Become a Contractor in Idaho

November 24, 2023 10 min. read
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If you’re looking to get into one of the most lucrative trade industries in the country, getting your Idaho general contractor license is a great bet. Idaho’s construction industry nearly doubled employment over the last 10 years, and the state is continuing to try and grow its workforce. 

According to the Economic Research Institute, the average salary for Idaho general contractors is about $117,000—and the top earners in the state average closer to $143,000.

In this guide, we’ll cover the key things you need to know about becoming a licensed general contractor in Idaho.

Do you need a general contractor license in Idaho?

While you don’t necessarily need a license, you do need to register with the state of Idaho to do construction work on any residential or commercial projects valued at over $2,000. 

In Idaho, Construction is defined as “the performance of building, altering, repairing, adding to, subtracting from, improving, reconstructing, moving, excavating, wrecking or demolishing any building, highway, road, bridge, or other structure, project, development or improvement to real property, or to do any part thereof, including the erection of scaffolding or other structures or works in connection therewith.”

Specific trades and building projects, like HVAC, electrical, and public works, require their own licenses. 

Working on construction projects without being registered is illegal and can bring fines and other penalties.

Contractor licensing and registration are handled by the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses (DOPL). This division is responsible for licensing general contractors overseeing building projects and specific subcontractor trades like roofing, framing, and painting. 

Depending on the project, the DOPL and regional governments may also be involved in building plan review and permit applications. 

Note that there are several exemptions from registering. For example, if you are an employee of a contractor and are paid in wages; or if you are an owner doing work on your own land and intend to sell the property within 12 months. Check the DOPL site closely to see if you are exempt.

The DOPL has a licensing FAQ page that can help you answer any other questions about the need for licensing in Idaho. 

Types of contractor licenses in Idaho

There are different types of contractor registrations available depending on the type of project and whether it is publicly or privately funded. Private building projects are overseen by registered general contractors, while public works are overseen by construction managers with a license class that depends on the monetary value of the project. 

Here are the different types of contractors you can register as in Idaho

  • General Commercial Builder
  • General Residential Builder
  • General Remodel Builder
  • Subcontractor

Public works construction management licenses cover most general contracting projects that involve public funding. With this license, you can work on all building projects that require the use of more than two different building trades.

This license type is broken into different classes based on the financial value of the project:

UnlimitedLicense holder can work on contracts involving an estimated cost of $5,000,000 or more
AAALicense holder can work on contracts involving an estimated cost of up to, but not more than, $5,000,000
AALicense holder can work on contracts involving an estimated cost of up to, but not more than, $3,000,000
ALicense holder can work on contracts involving an estimated cost of up to, but not more than, $1,250,000
BLicense holder can work on contracts involving an estimated cost of up to, but not more than, $600,000
CCLicense holder can work on contracts involving an estimated cost of up to, but not more than, $400,000
CLicense holder can work on contracts involving an estimated cost of up to, but not more than, $200,000
DLicense holder can work on contracts involving an estimated cost of up to, but not more than, $50,000

There are the statutes and administrative rules about working as a public works construction manager in Idaho.

The DOPL also has a separate license for anyone interested in installing manufactured, modular, and mobile homes. See this DOPL manufactured home installer license document for more information. 

Idaho general contractor license requirements

In Idaho, general contractors don’t need to meet any specific experience requirements. You just need to fill out the registration form, get the necessary insurance coverage and permits, and pay the annual fee. 

The public works construction manager and manufactured home installer licenses each have education or work experience requirements. 

Here’s what you need to do before you can get each license: 

License TypeRequirements
Public Works Construction Manager• Applicant must have a bachelor’s degree in architecture, engineering, or construction management and a minimum of four years of experience managing construction projects, verified by at least three letters of reference

Applicant must have a minimum of five years of experience managing construction projects, verified by at least three letters of reference

• Must have passed the necessary exam with a score of at least 70%
Manufactured Home Installer• Applicant must have completed the required eight-hour online training course

• Must provide proof of a principal place of business within the state

• Must pay the necessary $5,000 bond
Have passed the trade exam with a score of at least 70%

The construction manager classes also have different financial requirements, which you can read more about in this document

How do I get a general contractor license in Idaho? (steps)

The DOPL outlines the steps you need to take to become a registered general contractor or a fully licensed public works construction manager. 

General contractor registration

According to the Idaho Contractor Registration Act, applicants looking to become a general contractor or subcontractor need to provide the DOPL with the following information through the Individual or Business Contractor Registration form

  • Social Security Number or Employer Tax Identification Number
  • Name and address of business and all relevant members
  • Insurance coverage for general liability insurance of at least $300,000 and worker’s compensation
  • A statement about the type of construction work you or your business are going to undertake

Depending on the location and scope of the project, you may also need to fill out a building permit application

Construction manager license 

The DOPL has a public works forms and applications page that contains all the documents you may need while applying for your desired license class. Once you have met the required combination of education and/or work experience for leading construction projects, you need to follow these steps: 

  1. Complete the public works contractor license application in full
  2. Submit the work experience you gained on construction projects under the supervision of a licensed contractor
  3. Include your three contractor references or letters of recommendation
  4. Submit the necessary financial information based on the class of license you want 
  5. Complete and sign the exam form for your license class
  6. Pay the required fees
  7. Write and pass the public works contractor exam

Manufactured home installer license 

The DOPL also has a forms and applications page for manufactured housing installers with all the necessary documents. Here’s what you need to do to get this license: 

  1. Complete the required online training course to prepare for the exam
  2. Complete the manufactured home installer license application, including your business and credit card information
  3. Pay the required fees
  4. Write and pass the manufactured housing installer exam

Submit all applications, permits, and other forms online, by mail, or physically to the closest DOPL office:

  • Boise – 11341 W Chinden Blvd., Boise, ID 83714
  • Coeur d’Alene – 1250 Ironwood Dr., Suite 220, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814
  • Blackfoot – 155 N Maple St., Blackfoot, ID 83221

Idaho general contractor exam

Registered general contractors and subcontractors do not need to pass an exam to work in the state of Idaho. However, the Idaho DOPL requires you to write exams for both the public works construction manager and manufactured home installer licenses. Here’s some information about each exam:

Exam TypeDetails

Public Works Construction Manager
• Open book
• 110 questions, based on:
• The contractor’s business and law reference manual (80 questions)
• Public works statutes and rules (30 questions)
• 4 hours to write
• 70% to pass

Manufactured Home Installer
• Open book
• 45 questions, based on:
• Statutes and rules of factory-built structures
• Installation standards for manufactured housing
• 70% to pass

If you want more information about writing these exams, the DOPL has candidate information bulletins for both the public works and manufactured home exams.

Does Idaho reciprocate general contractor licenses?

Reciprocal licenses let contractors with out-of-state licenses apply directly for an equivalent one in another state. 

Currently, Idaho only reciprocates licenses for electricians and plumbers. So, if you have an out-of-state general contractor license, you’ll need to follow the application steps outlined above. 

How much does a general contractor license cost in Idaho?

The amount you have to spend to get and maintain a general contractor license in Idaho varies depending on the type and classification of the license you have, but you can expect to pay between $125 and $625 for initial licensing. 

Here’s a closer look at the fees associated with each license type and class: 

License StageGeneral ContractorPublic Works Construction ManagerManufactured Home Installer
Application$50• Unlimited: $550
• AAA: $450
• AA: $350
• A: $250
• B: $150
• CC: $125
• C: $100
• D: $50
ExamNA• $75$75
Renewal$50 (yearly registration)• Unlimited: $440
• AAA: $360
• AA: $280
• A: $160
• B: $120
• CC: $100
• C: $80
• D: $40

Keep in mind that there are also bond, insurance, and other financial requirements that you may need to meet in order to get your license. 

Renewing your general contractor license

General contractor registration and public works construction manager licenses are renewed annually, and it’s important to get the renewal done on time—licenses that have expired for longer than six months may not be reinstated. 

The public works contractor renewal form outlines all the steps in the process, including the financial benchmarks you need to meet in order to maintain a specific class of license. You must also show proof of current liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance (if applicable) to successfully renew your license. 

Instead of following the typical renewal process, public works licenses can also be downgraded by one or more classes to reduce the financial requirements you need to meet. 

Manufactured home installer licenses need to be renewed on an annual basis, and this can be done up to six months before the actual expiration date. To qualify for renewal, you also need to complete eight hours of continuing education every three years and maintain a current $5,000 bond.  

You can find more information about this process on the DOPL’s license renewal information page

What happens if my general contractor license expires? 

If you think your construction manager, manufactured home installation, or general contractor documentation has expired, stop all work immediately. Without a valid license, you will not be able to obtain any building permits or collect money for any existing contracts. Plus, the fines for working without a license and breaking building laws can bring up to $20,000 in penalties per violation and even jail time.

You can then use the DOPLs online contractor license search to check the status of your license and follow the necessary renewal steps. 

How to start a contracting business in Idaho

Once you’ve built up your experience and earned your Idaho general contractor, construction manager, or manufactured home installer license, you can take the next step toward a more lucrative future by starting your own contracting business. 

The DOPL has a Contractor’s Business and Law Reference Manual that includes a checklist with some of the key steps you need to take: 

  • Research the market and write a business plan
  • Select your legal entity
  • Register with the Secretary of State 
  • Arrange for income, sales, and excise taxes
  • Understand employer responsibilities for employee taxes, workers’ comp, and insurance
  • Secure all necessary federal, state, and regional permits

Once you’re registered, there are few more things you’ll need to think about to truly set your business up for success:

See our library of free contracting business resources for expert advice and templates you get you started.

Does a general contractor license in Idaho increase your earning potential?

Yes, getting your general contractor registration, construction manager, or manufactured home installer license in Idaho increases your earning potential. The average general contractor in the state makes around $117,000. But, if you get your Unlimited, AAA, AA, or A public works construction manager license, you can start working on projects that are in the seven-figure range. 

Plus, you stand to make even more money when you start your own business. 

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