Making an Agreement

Constructions experts generally agree that even for modest residential remodeling projects, the use of a qualified general contractor is important to achieving the desired results. When it comes to full-fledged construction projects in Wisconsin, retention of an experienced contractor is even more crucial. Virtually everyone has heard a horror story where an unqualified firm was hired to do roofing or electrical work because the project cost initially seemed favorable, only for the property owner later to discover that the construction was not up to code, or was left unfinished.

Based on problems that have been uncovered over the years within the construction business, Wisconsin provides (and requires) two separate types of credentialing in order to perform residential construction work. In fact, both “credentials” are required in order for the contractor to “pull” building permits.

Dwelling Contractor Credential

The first credential – Dwelling Contractor Certification (DCC) – allows contractors to work on single and two-family homes. Previously called the Dwelling Contractor Financial Responsibility Credential, the DCC is secured from the state by submitting a completed application form, $40, and a certificate of insurance issued by a qualified insurance company that assures the State of Wisconsin that the contractor has a minimum of $250,000 (per occurrence) of general liability insurance. This credential is held by the company and must be renewed annually.

Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification

All Wisconsin dwelling contractors (Business License) must employ or otherwise retain someone who holds the second credential – the Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification – in order to obtain single or two-family dwelling building permits. The qualified individual may be the owner or significant officer of the contracting business, or he or she may be just an employee. In any event, the qualifier must have completed 12 hours of approved construction training courses. Those courses must be relevant to the trade of contracting and must also be approved by the state’s Department of Safety and Professional Services. A certification from the course provider must be submitted, along with the appropriate application (and the $45 application fee) to receive the credential.

Both Credentials Must be Periodically Renewed

The DCC must be renewed annually. This helps assure the state that the contractor’s insurance is paid and up-to-date. The Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification lasts for two years. Within that 24-month period of time, the holder must complete an additional 12 hours of continuing education to remain licensed.

Local Municipalities Check Status of Credentials

The municipality that issues the building permit is required to record the appropriate contractor’s information and determine that both credentials are in full force and effect. Homeowners are advised that they should examine both credentials before the contractor is hired.

Construction Licensing Can Be Complex Process

Wisconsin businesses know that the levels of “red tape” have grown in recent years. The construction business is more complex than ever before. It can take significant resources for a construction firm to stay abreast of building techniques, of new materials, and best practices within the trade. Keeping pace with the regulatory world can seem daunting, even to experienced business operations. Many choose to retain the services of experienced legal counsel to assure that all the bases are touched. The Kerkman Wagner & Dunn, a Milwaukee business litigation firm with more than 50 years of combined legal experience, has been representing all sorts of businesses, including those in residential and commercial construction. Our firm has big firm talent and provides small firm attention. Call us at 414-278-7000 or complete our online contact form.

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