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Should You Become a Licensed Contractor as an Interior Designer?

If you frequently work on job sites where there is a general contractor, a floor guy, a plumber, and more, there can be communication errors and other variables that slow down the project. As the interior designer, you already have a lot of say over the project. Why not make the process more streamlined and become a licensed contractor yourself?

We recently welcomed Candy Barton, principal designer of Barton + Barton Interiors based in Del Mar, CA, on the podcast. Candy shared her passion for the construction side of design and her decision to become a licensed general contractor in the state of California. She shared the qualification process, things to consider, and the benefits of providing licensed project management and general contractor services to their clients. 

Below are five benefits of being the general contractor on a job site and how to prepare for the test.

Benefits of Being a Licensed Contractor

  1. You can manage the entire project
  2. More streamlined and fluid process
  3. Fewer middlemen and questions are answered quicker
  4. Better experience for the client
  5. More consistency in projects

How to Prepare for the General Contractor Test

  1. Have Experience
    To apply, you first must have a certain number of hours of experience working in a contracting trade such as framing. You must have worked with a contractor and been on the payroll to prove that you have been in the field.
  2. Apply to Take the B License Test
    You may apply for a C license which is a single trade license, but if you are going to take the test, it’s recommended to go for the B license that covers everything. Be prepared to learn the law and business side of the industry and how contracts work.
  3. Take the Test
    Candy says not to study for it. It’s about 120 multiple-choice questions. Take the test right away just to find out where you stand. Then you can take some time to work with a contractor and study, then reapply.

Tip: Once you have your license, do not put your construction business under the interior design umbrella. For liability and tax purposes, separate your interior design and construction business.

If you have experience working in construction and have a good relationship with the contractors you work with, becoming a general contractor could be the next best option to amplify your design business.

If you want to learn more about becoming a licensed contractor, visit

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