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What Are North Carolina Contractors?

More than 950 different types of state-level occupational licenses and permits are issued by the over 50 occupational licensing boards in North Carolina, and many professionals require a state-issued license to be eligible to offer their services to the public.

Per North Carolina Law, professionals that engage in construction work require a state license to offer certain services or do work that is valued at a particular amount. For example, a general contractor must be licensed by the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors if the contract is valued at $30,000 or higher. Similarly, plumbers require a license from the North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating, and Fire Sprinkler Contractors while electrical contractors are licensed by the North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors, regardless of the amount of money involved in the work.

Likewise, attorneys in North Carolina require licensing and admission into the North Carolina State Bar to be eligible for practice. The State Bar currently regulates over 28,000 licensed lawyers in the state.

Tips for Hiring a Contractor
in North Carolina

Choosing the right contractor is one of the most important decisions you are to make if you plan a home improvement project in North Carolina. A good contractor can ensure quality work and a smooth business, while the wrong one can cause difficulties and make you incur unreasonable expenses. Here are tips to help you make the right choice when hiring a contractor in North Carolina:

  • Shop around for contractors. Request referrals from friends, neighbors, coworkers, and anyone who has recently had repairs done on their properties. It is not a good idea to hire contractors who come knocking or leave brochures on your door or mailbox
  • Get estimates for your work from at least three contractors
  • Do some research on the contractor before you hire. Check the license held by your electrician online or by calling (919) 733-9042. You can also check online for that of your plumber/HVAC installer and general contractor, or do the same by calling (919) 875-3612 and (919) 571-4183 respectively
  • Check the contractor’s complaint history with the Better Business Bureau or with the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM
  • Get a written contract that outlines what the work entails. Make sure that it specifies the materials to be utilized and their overall cost including that of labor and any warranties or guarantees. It should also specify the start and end dates of the job, as well as who will be in charge of cleanup and trash removal
  • Request for the contractor’s insurance policy or bond and then verify the coverage by contacting the insurance company. This is especially important for roofing, painting, or tree removal projects
  • Note that North Carolina law gives you the right to cancel a contract you enter outside of the contractor’s place of business within three days of signing the contract.

How to Search a Contractor’s License in
North Carolina?

Contractors in North Carolina are regulated at the state level by several agencies. These agencies include the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating, and Fire Sprinkler Contractors, which issues occupational licenses to plumbing, HVAC, and fire sprinkler contractors, and the State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors, which oversees the licensing of electrical contractors. Similarly, general contractors that wish to perform work valued at $30,000 or more are required to obtain an appropriate contractor license from the state’s Licensing Board for General Contractors (NCLBGC). You can authenticate the licensing status of these contractors via the following methods:

  • General contractors: by calling (919) 571-4183 or by performing a name or location-based search on the NCLBGC’s license search portal.
  • Electrical contractors: via the State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors’ verify license search portal. Searches can be done through license type, license number, names, location, and phone number parameters. Alternatively, you can contact the board at (919) 733-9042 to confirm the licensing status of your electrical contractor.
  • Plumbing, HVAC, and fire sprinkler contractors: by performing location, classification type, or name-based searches online via a verify license search webpage or by calling (919) 875-3612.

North Carolina Enacted Statutes Chapter 87 stipulates the penalties for contractors that violate the state’s various licensing requirements. Per this statute, these violations are deemed class 2 misdemeanor offenses, and guilty parties can face criminal and civil penalties that include jail time of up to 60 days, fines of up to $1,000, or a combination of both.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
North Carolina?

North Carolina contractors typically charge between $9 - $50 per hour for their services excluding costs of materials. Keep in mind that besides the cost of materials, contractor fees also depend on your area and the type of project you are working on. Below are estimates of the hourly cost of contractors in North Carolina.

Carpenters
$7 - $18
Concrete contractors
$7 - $23
Domestic services contractors
$7 - $17
Drywall installation/repair contractors
$9 - $50
Electricians
$13 - $39
Flooring contractors
$8 - $27
HVAC contractors
$13 - $50
Landscape contractors
$8 - $33
Masonry contractors
$9 - $27
Painters
$8 - $22
Paving installation/repair contractors
$9 - $48
Plumbing contractors
$10 - $34
Roofing contractors
$8 - $46
Security system installation contractors
$10 - $23

Note that some contractors may decide to charge you a percentage of the total cost of the project instead of an hourly fee, usually ranging from 10% to 20%. This method of billing is particularly common with general contractors.

Besides contractors, you may also need to hire an attorney for certain tasks before or during your home improvement project, especially to draft or review written contracts with contractors. Many North Carolina attorneys may require you to pay hourly for these services. The fee usually ranges between $150 to about $400 per hour depending on certain factors like the attorney’s reputation and experience, and the complexity of the legal work.

What Are Home Improvement
Scams in North Carolina?

Home improvement scams refer to illegal business practices committed by contractors hired to renovate, repair, or rebuild residential properties. It encompasses a wide range of issues including shoddy work, using substandard materials, escalating project costs, and over-billing. Home improvement fraud often ends up costing the victim twice because apart from losing a significant amount to the fraudster, whose inferior work may cause damage to previously undamaged parts of a home, a legitimate contractor would also have to be hired to bring the work up to standard or repair the damage.

Although you cannot eliminate the risk of meeting a fraudulent contractor, you can significantly reduce your chances of falling for a home improvement scam. It is crucial to properly research a contractor before hiring. You should always make sure you request the contractor’s license information and verify it. Also, ask about guarantees as most legitimate companies will guarantee their work for a certain period. Information about guarantees should be included in a written contract. Refraining from making payment until the work is satisfactorily completed also helps in preventing a scam.

If you have a complaint about a home improvement contractor or company, or want to report a home improvement scam, file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of North Carolina or call the office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM. Similar complaints can be made to the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors or the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating & Fire Sprinkler Contractors, depending on the type of contractor and home improvement work.

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What are Common Home Improvement Scams in North Carolina?

Home improvement scammers deploy different antics to defraud homeowners. It is not uncommon for fraudulent contractors to solicit services by contacting homeowners door to door and claiming that their roof needs repair or their driveway needs to be repaved. The scammer then offers to do the work immediately at what they claim is a great price, requires the homeowner to make a substantial down payment, and then dishonors the deal. This trick is often targeted at older residents who are considered vulnerable and usually have good credit. In January 2021, the Attorney General of North Carolina took legal action against an unlicensed contractor that swindled over $3M from older homeowners in the state by requesting large upfront payment for home improvement services then absconding with the homeowners’ money without completing the job. This followed a similar lawsuit the attorney general had filed in 2019 against nine companies involved in a home improvement scheme under which they received payments from homeowners for improvement works without carrying out the work as promised. Some warning signs of a home improvement scam in North Carolina include when the contractor:

  • Requires you to make complete payment up-front
  • Tries to get you to make hasty decisions about your project
  • Offers you price cuts if you refer other customers to them
  • Claims to have leftover materials from a previous job completed nearby
  • Prefers cash payments

You can avoid falling for home improvement scams in North Carolina by considering the following tips:

  • Check out a company before you decide to work with them. Learn about any complaints against the contractor by calling the Attorney General’s Office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM. Also, ask the company for references and past clients
  • Instead of deciding to do business with the first person who comes to your door, get at least three written estimates. Make sure you have a formal contract that specifies all of the work to be done, the prices, and the completion date before work begins
  • Be wary of upsells. Some contractors may initially charge a low rate for a particular service and then subsequently begin to point out numerous expensive and alarming problems that supposedly need immediate attention. Heeding to such contractors might lead you into paying a lot of money for unnecessary services
  • Ask about guarantees. Most companies will guarantee their work for a certain period. Make sure to get this information in writing
  • Do not make large down payments. Although North Carolina does not have a law limiting what a contractor can receive as a downpayment, beware of contractors that require you to pay a large part of their fee in advance.
  • Avoid making final payments to a contractor until you have thoroughly examined the work and you are satisfied with it. Also, avoid paying with cash; use a check or a credit card instead
  • Keep in mind that you have the option to cancel. Per state law, transactions that take place at a location other than the contractor's regular place of business, such as your home, are eligible for cancellation up to three days after you sign the contract.

You can report any fraudulent contractor activities to the Office of the Attorney General of North Carolina by filing a complaint online or by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.

What are Disaster Scams in North Carolina?

Following natural disasters like hurricanes, fires, and floods, unlicensed contractors and fraudsters frequently lurk around affected homeowners promising speedy repairs, clean-up, and debris removal. However, if you engage them, they may take your money and then fail to do the work or promise a discount but end up charging exorbitant fees. In many cases, these contractors also lack the necessary qualifications and abilities to actually help you. Below are steps to consider when carrying out post-disaster repairs in North Carolina to avoid falling for a scam:

  • Avoid rushing repairs, no matter how urgent the need is
  • It is not a good idea to hire the first contractor that comes along. Get bids from at least three contractors to have a reasonable idea of what your project will entail
  • Be cautious about door-to-door offers of repair services and flyers or business cards that are left at your door
  • Ask friends, family, and associates for recommendations about contractors they have used on similar projects
  • Never pay a contractor in cash
  • Detail every aspect of the work as well as agreements with the contractor in a written contract
  • Be wary of price gouging. Under North Carolina law, contractors cannot charge excessively for services during or in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Report instances of price gouging by filing a complaint with the Attorney General. The Attorney General’s Office can seek refunds on your behalf if you fall victim to a price-gouging contractor

To report other occurrences of post-disaster contractor scam, complete the online complaint form provided by the Attorney General or call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.

What are Common Legal
Work Scams in North Carolina?

Legal work scams refer to deceptive practices perpetuated using law-related arrangements or methods. Some examples of legal work scams in North Carolina include:

  • Jury duty scam: to perpetuate this scam, the fraudsters contact their potential victim posing as a court or law enforcement official and claim that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of the individual for failing to show up for jury duty. The scammer then requires their victim to pay a particular sum of money to avoid arrest, or require them to provide certain personal information for a verification that is fictitious.
  • Attorney dues scam: this scam targets attorneys in North Carolina. Perpetrators of this scam try to collect bar dues from attorneys by posing as the North Carolina State Bar or the North Carolina Bar Association. The scammers may offer the lawyer a discount on dues if the lawyer renews bar membership over the phone via credit card.
  • Attorney impersonation scam: fraudsters may pose as legitimate law firms or attorneys to scam persons in need of legal assistance. These scammers aim to collect certain attorney-related fees without actually helping the client. Similarly, it is not uncommon for scammers to send emails pretending to be from the Attorney General claiming that you owe money, and threatening to take legal action if you do not wire a certain amount to them.

To avoid falling victim to a legal work scam in North Carolina, you should take note of the following:

  • Take extra caution when dealing with businesses that require you to pay them in gift cards or cryptocurrency.
  • Always remember that a government agency will never call you on the phone to demand payment.
  • Do not be in haste to respond to any call, text, or email you receive from someone claiming to be a government official. Look up the agency’s contact information independently and contact them directly to verify whether the message you received is legitimate.
  • If you receive a court or law enforcement-related email, examine it carefully and look for signs of a scam such as spelling and grammar errors, or mismatches with the agency’s official URL.
  • Never send money or give your financial information to someone via email or on the phone.
  • Confirm that any attorney you intend to hire is licensed to practice law in North Carolina through the North Carolina State Bar’s member directory. You should also check out the attorney’s disciplinary records using the North Carolina State Bar’s lawyers’ discipline portal.
  • Report suspected or actual legal work scams to the Office of the Attorney General of North Carolina online or by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM. You can also report unethical attorney practices to the North Carolina State Bar by completing a grievance form and submitting it via the email generated after completing the form or by mailing it to
  • The Grievance Committee
  • The North Carolina State Bar
  • P.O. Box 25908
  • Raleigh, NC 27611
  • Phone: (919) 828‐4620

How Long Does it Take to Get a Contractor License in
North Carolina?

The length of time it takes to get a contractor license in North Carolina varies based on the licensing body, the type of license, and how accurate the application is. For example, licenses issued by the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors require about two weeks for initial processing. If corrections are required, you will be notified via email or phone to provide updated information. Similarly, the board may also require applicants to take a test after initial processing. This requirement will be communicated via an eligibility letter that will allow the recipient to schedule the exam. It takes about two to three weeks after exams are completed before a license is granted. Applicants who have already taken the exam can proceed with their application and will go on the next list for Board Approval. Lists for Board approval are scheduled twice a month. Once the Board gives their approval a license will be granted. On the other hand, licenses issued by the North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors are usually mailed to the recipient between 5 to 10 business days of application approval.

How to Maintain Your License in North Carolina

Licensed contractors in North Carolina are typically expected to meet certain continuing education requirements annually to maintain their license. The details of these requirements are determined by the board that is responsible for regulating the category of the contractor, and respective licensing boards generally specify the mandatory minimum hours of the courses the contractors should take. For example, General Contractors are required to complete a minimum of eight hours of continuing education annually.

General contractors are also allowed to increase their license limitations by completing an increase in limitation application and submitting it by mail to:

  • North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors
  • 5400 Creedmoor Road
  • Raleigh, NC 27612

Electrical contractors can upgrade their licenses by completing the application for license upgrade and submitting it by fax to (800) 691-8399 or by mail to:

  • State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors
  • 301 Industrial Drive
  • Suite 206
  • Raleigh, NC 27609

Likewise, attorneys in North Carolina are required to complete 12 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) each year to maintain their license to practice law in the state. Attorneys are also to make sure their general client trust accounts are structured in line with the North Carolina State Bar Plan for Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (NC IOLTA).

How to Renew a Contractor License in
North Carolina

Contractor licenses in North Carolina are typically valid for a year after which a renewal will be required. General contractors can renew their licenses by setting up their NCClic online license account and following the ensuing instructions. Electrical Contractors are sent renewal notices by the Board of Examiners approximately 30-days before their license expiration date. The notice includes the license renewal form which recipients are to complete and return. Contractors that did not receive a renewal notice may contact the board by calling (919) 733-9042. Similarly, plumbing, heating, and, fire sprinkler contractors can renew their licenses by completing the relevant renewal form and submitting it in person or by mail to

  • State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating & Fire Sprinkler Contractors
  • 1109 Dresser Court
  • Raleigh, NC 27609

Note that plumbing contractors that hold a license issued from 2020 and moving forward can renew their licenses online via the board’s license renewal page. These contractors are typically mailed a renewal invoice that contains their login details for this page.

Similarly, North Carolina licensed attorneys are required to pay annual fees set by the North Carolina State Bar. Payment of bar dues is typically done online through the Member Portal.