A state of Louisiana resident who wants to be a contractor is required to obtain a general contractor's license, either commercial or residential, in order to legally undertake most types of construction work in the state.
But those interested in installing heating, ventilation, air-conditioning or similar systems don't need a contractor's license. Instead, they need only get a mechanical contractor's license if they work on jobs billed at $10,000 or more. This involves sitting for a 100-question test.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
The easy way to get a mechanical contractor's license in Louisiana is to take and ace the test. To do this, significant preparation and study may be required.
Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors
The Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC) is charged with developing and enforcing the licensing scheme for contractors in the state. The LSLBC treats different categories of contractors differently, depending on the type and scope of their work. The state issues commercial licenses, residential licenses and home improvement registration.
Types of Licenses
A commercial license is required for any commercial projects with a price tag, including labor and materials, of over $50,000. Subcontractors and specialty trade contractors must also have Louisiana licenses. Subs hired to do electrical, plumbing or mechanical work will need a license only on projects over $10,000.
A residential license is required for all residential projects with a cost of over $75,000. This includes single home improvement jobs or new buildings of four or fewer units. Subcontractors and specialty trades that work on the project must also be licensed in the same way and to the same extent as when they are working for a commercial contractor.
The home improvement license is a type of contractor license that is required for projects that are more than $7,500, but still below the residential license threshold of $75,000.
Penalties for Failure to Get a License
Anyone doing work of the type covered in one of these license requirements without getting a license can be hit with serious penalties. The licensing board will assess a fine of up to 10 percent of the price of the contract. In addition, the board can take the individual to court where more fines may be assessed, as well as attorney fees and court costs.
If the contractor has a license, but is undertaking types of work that don't fall under the classification, penalties are also assessed. In addition, the board can suspend or revoke the contractor's license.
What Is a Mechanical Contractor?
Louisiana's mechanical license is issued to contractors by the Louisiana State Licensing Board. Those who want to perform mechanical work, whether on residential or commercial projects, are required to obtain a mechanical contractor's license from the board. This is only necessary if the mechanical components of the construction exceed $10,000.
What is a mechanical contractor in Louisiana? What kinds of jobs do they undertake? State law defines mechanical contractors as those who direct projects dealing with:
- Heating systems.
- Ventilation systems.
- Pressure vessels such as boilers, hot water and steam systems, and piping.
- Gas piping.
- Fuel storage.
- Chilled water and condensing water systems.
Mechanical Work Statewide Classification
Although there were, in the past, various classifications of restricted mechanical licensing, anyone applying for a new license must apply for the Mechanical Work (Statewide) License. With this license, a person can bid, contract and perform any kind of mechanical work in Louisiana. They need not take any local licensing exams.
Note that Mechanical Work contractors who undertake plumbing jobs in Louisiana must also obtain a Master Plumber License. This is issued through the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana. Similarly, Mechanical Work contractors who perform gas piping jobs are also required to obtain a Master Gas Fitter’s license from the State Plumbing Board.
Applying for Mechanical Contractor License
Anyone interested in applying for the mechanical contractor license in Louisiana should contact the Louisiana State Licensing Board, either in person, by mail or by phone:
- LSLB offices are in Baton Rouge at 2525 Quail Drive.
- Mailing address: Box 14419, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70898.
- For phone inquiries: 225-765-2301.
For fax inquiries: 225-765-2431.
For online contact: LSLBC website at lslbc.louisiana.gov.
Mechanical Work Test
An applicant for a Mechanical Work (Statewide) License is required to take and pass a state exam before obtaining a license. The fee for the trade exam is $100. There is another $100 fee for obtaining licensure.
The purpose of the Mechanical Work (Statewide) exam is to make sure the person is knowledgeable about business and law and also to get up to speed on the basics of the trade. One way to get started is to purchase a study guide for the business and law component of the exam from the board for $40.
In addition to the business and law components of the exam, an applicant faces multiple choice questions on these subjects:
- Plumbing and gas piping: 20 percent of the exam.
- Project management, estimating and plan reading: 15 percent of the exam.
- HVAC and refrigeration systems: 19 percent of the exam.
- Air distribution systems and ventilation: 15 percent of the exam.
- Piping systems and hydronics (commercial, residential and industrial): 19 percent of the exam.
- Instrumentation (Controls, Balancing): 9 percent of the exam.
- Solar and Alternative-Energy Systems: 3 percent of the exam.
Contractors' Exam Study Preparation Aids
As described above, the Louisiana examination for Mechanical Work (Statewide) is intended to ensure that licensees have a good level of knowledge, skill and abilities expected of Mechanical Work contractors. The Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors website offers a list of books, study materials and courses available that can help an applicant prepare for the exam. However, it is not mandatory to use or study any of these resources.
The board's website notes that the best preparation for a Mechanical Work contractor might be working as an apprentice to learn skills and knowledge. They also recommend that applicants take courses at a technical community college or a training program offered by an organization, in addition to hands-on experience.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.