Like most states, Florida operates a systems of licensing for tradespeople who carry out certain types of construction work. As a jack-of-all-trades, a handyman might need to hold a contractor's license for some home renovation-related services. Without a license, a handyman is restricted to carrying out miscellaneous non-structural repair work.
In Florida, many of the jobs performed by a handyman do not need a license. This includes minor carpentry, door repair, cabinet installation, painting, paneling, basic yard work, tiling, small appliance repair and window repair. Essentially, if you are only performing non-structural repair work, you won't need a state license. Some Florida counties require licensing or a certificate of competency for services that do not require a state license. In Lee County, for example, you'll need a license to carry out painting work even though the state doesn't license this activity. For specific questions about licensing, be sure to check with the county contractor licensing board.
Any activity that involves construction, plumbing or wiring requires a state contractor's license. So, if your activities extend to home renovations, roof work, demolishing load-bearing walls or even installing a dishwasher, you'll fall within the scope of a licensed contractor. In Florida, this requires documentation and being certified by the Construction Industry Licensing Board. Performing licensed work without a license can lead to work stoppages and fines, so it's important to verify whether you need a license for the types of services you carry out.
Florida offers statewide licenses in various categories including building, air conditioning; mechanical work, plumbing, pool installation, roofing, solar panel installation, electrical work, fire protection and alarm systems. In order to be a Florida licensed contractor, you must have at least four years' experience in the category for which you wish to be licensed, pass the contractor's competency test and provide proof of your financial stability. In addition, you'll need minimum amounts of liability, property damage and workers' compensation insurance. Exam classes can be taken in-person throughout the state of Florida. For details, visit the Florida Department of Business Regulation website.
A county license gives you permission to carry out work in that county. If you work across county lines, you'll need to be licensed in each county. However, once you are licensed in your home county, it's possible to obtain a license in other Florida counties without having to take more exams. This is known as reciprocity. Reciprocity requirements vary by county, but essentially, if the new county requires a license of equal scope to the one you have already, and you obtained the license through testing, then you should be able to reciprocate your way into the new county by virtue of being licensed already.