Q: Why was the license law passed?
A: The number one reason for the license is to provide for consumer protection.
The previous statutes allowed only marginal authority to the existing Landscape Contractors’ Registration Board to arbitrate consumer complaints. The new Licensing Board will have greater authority to help consumers that have legitimate complaints with work performed by Licensed Landscape Contractors.
Q: When do I use my landscape license number?
A: Every landscape contractor shall display the license number issued to the contractor by the Board on all business cards, contracts, advertising and vehicles used by the contractor in the landscape contracting business.
Q: If I do not have a license, can I call myself a landscape contractor?
A: No. Only individuals and businesses that have a valid landscape contractor license, issued by the NC Landscape Contractors’ Licensing Board can use the designation “landscape contractor”. § 89D-12. License required; use of seal; posting license.[…no person shall engage in the practice of landscape construction or contracting, use the designation ”landscape contractor,” or advertise using any title or description that implies licensure as a landscape contractor unless the person is licensed as a landscape contractor as provided by this Chapter.]
Q: I own a landscape business, do I need a corporate license and an individual license?
A: How do you operate or advertise? If you are a sole proprietor and advertise in your name, you may operate under your individual license. If you operate or advertise your business under another name rather than your personal name or if your business operates as a a corporation, LLC, partnership, or person doing business under an assumed or designated trade name, you will be required to carry a corporate license for the business in which you operate under, unless you have registered with your county Register of Deeds as a DBA (Doing Business As) and notified the NCLCLB office that you are doing business under a different name than how you are licensed.
Q. I am the only person in my business and licensed as a sole-proprietor. Do I need a corporate license?
A. The simplest question to answer is: How do you advertise? If you are a sole proprietor and not operating or advertising as a corporation, LLC, or partnership you may operate under your individual license. If you operate under a corporation, LLC, partnership, or person doing business under an assumed or designated trade name, you will be required to carry a corporate license for the business in which you operate under, unless you have (1) registered with your county Register of Deeds as a DBA (Doing Business As) and (2) notified the NCLCLB office that you are doing business under a different name than how you are licensed. The purpose of this is so that the public can correctly identify a licensed landscape contractor or landscape contracting business.
For example, if “Joe Smith”, a licensee, is advertising or doing landscape contracting under the name “Joe’s Landscaping,” a customer cannot determine exactly who the licensee is. In this case, “Joe Smith” should either file as a DBA in his county and notify the NCLCB office in writing that Joe Smith is doing business as “Joe’s Landscaping” or “Joe’s Landscaping,” needs a corporate license as well as an individual license. (You need a license in the name in which you are doing your landscape business.)
The State of North Carolina provides additional information to help you in naming your business and notifying the proper state agencies: Click HERE
Q: Who has to have a Surety Bond?
A: Every licensed landscape contractor must have an individual surety bond unless the landscape contractor is specifically named on the company surety bond for the licensed company in which he or she is employed. If filing under the individual license, you should submit the original surety bond with your application for licensure. If you are being covered under a Corporate Surety Bond, as an owner or officer of the company, you submit the original Corporate Surety Bond and others covered under the Corporate Surety Bond should submit a copy of the Corporate Surety Bond (with your name list on the bond) with your application for licensure.
Q: What is the purpose of the surety bond?
A: The surety bond gives the NC Landscape Licensing Board with an option for providing financial restitution to eligible North Carolina homeowners who have suffered a financial loss caused by the dishonest or incompetent conduct of a licensed landscape contractor.
Q: If I am covered under a corporate surety bond and I leave that company, do I need to get an individual surety bond?
A: Yes. To be a licensed landscape contractor, you must be covered under a surety bond, either by an individual or corporate bond.
Q: When is my landscape license valid?
A: Your NC Landscape Contractors’ License will be valid for one (1) year, from August 1st of the current year thru July 31st of the following year.
Q: I do not currently do landscape work over $30,000 a year for a project. Why should I get a license?
A: By statute, you are only required to get a license if you offer a quote or do work that is for $30,000 for the project in a year, including materials, labor and all other costs for a single customer in a single year. More businesses, municipalities and individuals are becoming aware of licensing for landscape contractors and it is more likely they will choose licensed landscape contractors for work instead of non-licensed individuals or companies.
Q: Where did the amount of $30,000 a year for a project come from and why is it important?
A: By the statute 89D-12 (c): License required; A landscape contractor licensed under this Chapter is not required to be licensed as a general contractor under Article 1 of Chapter 87 of the General Statutes if the licensed landscape contractor is performing landscape construction or contracting work valued at an amount greater than thirty thousand dollars ($30,000).
Prior to inception of the landscape license law , an individual, company, corporation, etc performing such improvements greater than $30,000 would need to be licensed as a general contractor.
(G.S. 87-1), “General contractor” is defined as any person or firm or corporation who for a fixed price, commission, fee, or wage, undertakes to bid upon or to construct or who undertakes to superintend or manage, on his own behalf or for any person, firm, or corporation the construction of any building, highway, public utilities, grading or any improvement or structure where the cost of the undertaking is thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) or more, or undertakes to erect a North Carolina labeled manufactured modular building meeting the North Carolina State Building Code, shall be deemed to be a “general contractor” engaged in the business of general contracting in the State of North Carolina.
Q: I heard that some local NC government municipalities are beginning to require licensed professionals to bid on government jobs, including landscaping projects. Is this true?
A: More and more municipalities have been requiring landscape contractors to have a valid landscape contractors’ license to bid on jobs.
Q: What are the fees associated with licensure?
A: They are:
- Application Fee (one time fee): $75.00 (non-refundable fee)
- Examination: $150.00
- Individual license fee: $100.00 (effective June 1, 2021)
- Corporate license fee: $100.00* (effective June 1, 2021)
*(individual license required first)
- License renewal: $100.00 (effective June 1, 2021)
- Late renewal: $25.00
(if renewal not postmarked by July 31st.)
- Individual license reinstatement: $100.00
- Corporate license reinstatement: $100.00
- License by reciprocity: $100.00
- Duplicate license: $25.00
- Examination Fee: $150.00 (each time)
Important: the Landscape Contractors’ Licensing Board does not receive any state funds. Fees collected from industry professionals go to perform statute defined duties including giving examinations, issuing license certificates, maintaining records of licensees and monitoring for violations to ensure the health and safety of consumers.
Q: Is anyone exempt from getting a landscape contractors license?
A: Yes. Follow this link to the list of exemptions as defined in the statute.
Q: When do I, and what do I need to do to, renew my license?
A: To renew the NC Landscape Contractors’ Licensing Board, all licensed landscape contractors must complete seven (7) hours of Board Approved Continuing Education per year. The seven (7) hours of required continuing education must be earned between August 1st and July 31st of the following year and verification submitted with the annual license renewal at the end of the renewal year ending on July 31st each year.
Q: When can I renew my landscape license?
A: Renewal information will be sent out by email and U.S. mail no later than June of each year.
Q: When do I need to have my 7 hours of Continuing Education credit?
A: You will need to have completed the required 7 hours of continuing education requirement between August 1st of the current year and July 31st of the next year before applying for your license renewal.
Effective August 1, 2016, three (3) of the seven (7) CE credits must be “landscape (technical)” credits and two (2) of the seven (7) must be “business” credits. The “landscape (technical)” or “business” classification will be noted on the list of approved courses on our website.
Q: What should I do when I attend a NCLCLB approved continuing education course?
A: Be sure to sign-in on the NCLCLB Sign-In sheet when you get to the course. The Course provider is to return the sign-in sheets to the NCLCLB office at the end of the course for our record.
Additionally, you should receive a NCLCLB Proof of Attendance form at the end of the course to keep for record of your attendance.
It is also helpful if you keep course marketing materials that contain the course content, instructor(s) and sponsoring organization, in the event you are audited.
Q: What should I do with my NCLCLB Proof of Attendance form?
A: Put your NCLCLB Proof of Attendance forms in a safe place in the event you are requested to provide them to the NCLCLB Office.
Q: How long to I need to keep my NCLCLB Proof of Attendance forms?
A: You need to keep your NCLCLB Proof of Attendance form and corresponding continuing education materials of your continuing education course for record for two (2) years following the renewal approval date for which the CEUs are applied.
Q: Will the Board accept other forms as proof of attendance?
A: No. To receive continuing education credit all documentation is to be on official NCLCLB forms.
Q: What do I need to have in the event I am audited?
A: Licensees selected for audit will need to provide the Board with the following documentation of the CEU activities claimed for the renewal period.
1) Official NCLCLB Proof of Attendance Form
2) Information regarding course content, instructors and sponsoring organization
Q: If I am audited, how long do I have to submit my information to the Board?
A: Licensees selected for audit will need to provide the Board with the requested information within 21 calendar days from the date the license holder is notified by the Board of the audit.
Q: Why doesn’t the Board accept anonymous complaints?
A: The NCLCLB does not investigate anonymous complaints (Chapter 28B; Section .0701 of the NC Administrative Code).
When anonymous complaints are accepted, it opens the door for abuse by people wanting to engage in personal retaliations against business competitors or to individuals.
With anonymous complaints, anyone can file a complaint that is malicious and completely unfounded, and they can repeatedly submit trivial complaints with no accountability or consequences.
Anonymous complaints can be a tremendous waste of Board resources and staff time taking away from genuine issues that affect the safeguarding of life, health, and property of the general public.
21 NCAC 28B .0701 Complaints; Investigations
(a) All complaints filed with the Board shall be filed either on a form provided by the Board or via the Board’s online complaint process at www.nclclb.com. All complaints must contain the following information:
(1) Date of alleged violation;
(2) Contact information for licensee/unlicensed contractor;
(3) Contractor license number, if known;
(4) Complainant name and contact information;
(5) Address where alleged violation(s) occurred;
(6) Description of work performed;
(7) Copy of written contract; and
(8) Attestation, by signature, that information provided is true and accurate to the best of complainant’s knowledge.
The Board will not investigate anonymous complaints. Incomplete complaints will not be investigated.…]
Employee Classification Section
Q: What is this “Employee Classification” on the application and why does it matter to me?
A: In 2017, the General Assembly enacted Article 82 of G.S. Chapter 143 and created the “Employee Classification Section” of the NC Industrial Commission. G.S. 143-789 requires that all Occupational Licensing Board (OLB) applicants (for initial licensure and renewal) to certify they have read & understand the “public notice statement.” G.S. 143-786(a)(7) defines “public notice statement” as “notice as set forth in G.S. 143-788(a)(5).” GS 143-788(a)(5) says that the Employee Classification Section of the NC Industrial Commission shall “create a publicly available notice that includes the definition of employee miss-classification.” Additionally, G.S. 143-786(a)(5) defines employee miss-classification as “avoiding tax liabilities and other obligations imposed by Chapter 95, 96, 97, 015 or 143 of the General Statutes by miss-classifying an employee as an independent contractor.”
Most importantly, G.S. 143-789(b) requires OLBs to deny applications for those who fail to comply with the certification requirements of the law.
Are you Unlicensed?
If you are unlicensed and perform projects valued at $30,000 or more, your customers may not have to pay you. In a N.C. Supreme Court case captioned Brady v. Fulghum, an unlicensed general contractor sued homeowners for breach of contract. The Court ruled that the homeowners did not have to pay their general contractor even though he “substantially complied” with the construction contract. The Court held that “a contract illegally entered into by an unlicensed general construction contractor is unenforceable by the contractor.”
While the courts have not yet applied this case to the practice of landscape contracting, it is possible that should a similar situation occur, property owners who are under contract with an unlicensed landscaper for a project over $30,000 could tell the court that they don’t have to pay their unlicensed landscaper because the contract or agreement was unenforceable, just like the homeowners in Brady v. Fulghum.
Protect your business and yourself… get your Landscape Contractors’ license so you don’t find yourself being the first case.