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How to Become a Home Improvement Contractor

Steps

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    Accumulate work experience in residential construction. As a home improvement contractor, you’ll be expected to handle every aspect of a homeowner’s renovation project. The best preparation for this expectation is to accumulate experience working in construction. Options include working as a carpenter for a large general contractor and working as an assistant to an established home improvement contractor. Aim to earn at least 5 years of relevant work experience before trying to start your own business.
     
     
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    Consider pursuing formal education. Educational programs in construction are varied and widely available. Completing a certificate or degree program in a field related to residential construction will improve your credentials, give you additional experience, and help you network with other people in the field. Anything from a technical diploma or certificate in a building trade to a bachelor’s degree in construction management will prove useful.
    • When enrolled in classes, consider taking courses in business administration as well. Classes in accounting, marketing, finance, and entrepreneurship will vastly improve your understanding of what it takes to make a business thrive.
     
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    Incorporate your home improvement business. Formally creating a business is a fairly straightforward process, usually involving filing articles of incorporation with your state and paying a fee. The limited liability company, or LLC, is an ideal structure for small businesses like home improvement contracting. This structure protects your personal assets as well as providing a favorable tax impact.

     
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    Obtain your builder’s license if required. Many jurisdictions require home improvement contractors to obtain and regularly renew builder’s licenses. This license can be obtained through the licensing board of your state (or sometimes your city, county, or other jurisdiction). Obtaining this license often requires completion of an exam on construction and business law.
     
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    Obtain your first few clients. Marketing your fledgling home improvement business to those first few clients can be a challenging endeavor. Take steps to make your business known in the local area, such as taking out ads in newspapers and phone books. Consider mailing coupons or flyers to some past clients you may have worked with in a prior construction job. Once you have obtained your first few customers, encourage them to recommend you to friends (offering a discount might be a worthwhile enticement) and write reviews on websites such as Yelp.
     
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    Build your home improvement business gradually. Maintaining a base of loyal customers will become easier with time if you perform quality work. Growing your business may mean hiring additional laborers, implementing new accounting or project management software, and building relationships with subcontractors.