South Carolina Residential Builder’s Guide to Licensing

South Carolina Residential Builder's License

There are three types of residential builders in South Carolina who need to get licensed: specialty contractors, plumber/electrician/HVAC contractors, and home builders. The licensing process is different depending on the type of work you will be doing. 

The Residential Builders Commission is in charge of registering, licensing, and issuing certificates of authorization to those qualified to conduct residential building and inspections in South Carolina pursuant to SC Code § 40-59.

How to become a registered specialty contractor in South Carolina

Residential specialty contractors are required to register with the Residential Builders Commission. Specialty contractors are those who work on any of the following: vinyl/aluminum siding, floor covering, carpentry, insulation installing, masonry, stucco installation, roofing, drywall installation, painting, and solar panel installation. Residential specialty licenses expire on June 30th of odd-numbered years and can be renewed online.

The following documentation must be submitted to the Commission for a contractor to register:

  1. Complete the Residential Specialty Contractor Registration Application.
    • The affidavit must have and display one year of experience.
    • The application must be properly signed and notarized and include a copy of your photo ID and Social Security card.
    • If the Social Security number is not provided or is incorrect, the application will be returned.
  2. Submit three reference letters from individuals familiar with your work in the trades you’re seeking registration in.
  3. Pay the registration fee.
    • The fee is $50 if the registration is issued for 12 months or less before the next renewal date.
    • The fee is $100 if the registration is issued for more than 12 months before the next renewal date.
  4. Provide an affidavit of eligibility.
  5. Secure a $5,000 surety bond if the cost of work exceeds $5,000.

How to become a licensed specialty contractor

Plumber, electrician, and HVAC contractors are required to be licensed by the Residential Builders Commission prior to working in South Carolina. These specialty contracting licenses expire on June 30th of odd-numbered years and can be renewed online.

The following steps must be completed for the Commission to issue a specialty contractor license:

  1. Submit the application pertaining to your specialty:
  2. Pay the $100 application processing fee.
  3. Send a letter from your employer acknowledging at least one year of experience.
  4. Pass the PSI exam.
  5. Pay the license fee.
    • The fee is $80 if the license is issued for 12 months or less before the next renewal date.
    • The fee is $160 if the license is issued for more than 12 months before the next renewal date.
  6. Secure a $10,000 surety bond if the cost of work exceeds $5,000.

How to become a residential builder and receive a certificate of authorization

Homebuilders are required to obtain a Certificate of Authorization from the Residential Builders Commission. Homebuilder licenses are renewed on June 30th during even-numbered years. Registration can be completed online every two years.

The following steps are to be completed by the builder before the Commission will issue the certificate of authorization.

  1. File the Residential Home Builders License Application.
    • Provide a copy of your photo ID and Social Security card.
  2. Submit the $100 application processing fee via certified check or money order made payable to SCRBC.
  3. Submit a notarized affidavit of eligibility.
  4. Submit proof of at least one year of relevant work experience within the past five years.
    • Include copies of W2s and/or 1099s from employers who will be filling out your affidavit of experience.
    • Include copies of licenses from other states and Verification of Licensure from the states you hold licenses in the trade applied for
  5. Pass the PSI exam.
  6. Pay the homebuilder license fee.
    • The fee is $80 if the license is issued for 12 months or less before the next renewal date.
    • The fee is $160 if the license is issued for more than 12 months before the next renewal date.
  7. Submit a $15,000 surety bond.

All applications must be sent to the South Carolina Residential Builders Commission at P.O. Box 11329, Columbia, SC, 29211.

How long does it take to process the application?

All applications are reviewed by the Residential Builders Commission staff within seven to 10 business days. During this period, you can check your application status online. If your application is incomplete or inaccurate, it will be returned. Once all information is received, allow seven to 10 business days before checking your application status.

How much does a surety bond for a residential builder cost?

If you are a registered specialty contractor, your surety bond will cost $100. If you are a licensed specialty contractor, such as a plumber, electrician, or HVAC contractor, your bond will cost $200. If you are a home builder with a certificate of authorization, your bond will cost $300. South Carolina residential builder bonds do not require a credit check, meaning they are issued instantly for all applicants. Regardless of your license classification, your surety bond must be renewed each year for as long as you will be working as a contractor in South Carolina.

About the PSI Exam

PSI Examination Services administers all required examinations for licensing and registration, as well as offering preparatory courses, scheduling exams, and locating nearby exam centers. Any exam fees must be paid directly to PSI. Upon passing the exam, you must submit the full exam score report from PSI with your application.

Need a South Carolina residential builder surety bond?

The experts at SuretyBonds.com have years of experience issuing residential builder bonds for South Carolina contractors, meaning they know what it takes to save you time and money. Purchase your bond online instantly by visiting our website or call 1 (800) 308-4358 for answers to any questions you have about surety bonds.

Check out the graphic below for a licensing guide to each type of residential builder in South Carolina.

3 types of residential builders: registered or licensed specialty contractor and registered builder.

About the Author

Rhaea Lehman
Rhaea is a 2021 graduate of the University of Missouri with a Bachelor in Communication and German. She is the content coordinator for the SuretyBonds.com marketing department and outreach team.