Home Improvement Contractor License Needs Reform


February 15, 2023 3:57PM

In a time with 40-year high inflation and 20-year high mortgage rates, many people and families cannot afford to buy a new home. In fact, from 1970 to 2010 median home values appreciated three times faster than median household incomes. Here in Tennessee, the problem is even worse as Tennessee had the 4th highest increase in home prices in the nation. When Beacon conducted a statewide listening tour last year, we found that rising housing costs were the number one concern of Tennesseans.

As a result, some may look to renovate or remodel a kitchen or other portion of their current home to better fit their needs until they can afford a new home. But finding someone to do the remodeling is becoming more difficult due to arbitrary government restrictions. 

Tennessee has two licenses for these types of projects: the general contractor and in many of our largest counties the home improvement contractor. The home improvement contractor is limited to projects up to $24,999, while the general contractor, who generally focuses on building new homes and other larger projects, can do projects from $25,000 and up.

With the increased price of construction materials and costs associated with home renovation, the size of a project that a home improvement contractor can assist with has become substantially smaller. Homeowners are forced to bring in general contractors who are in short supply to do work that a home improvement contractor could have done. 

The cap on the project size of a home improvement contractor was set in 2007 and has never been adjusted for inflation in today’s economic environment, it hurts homeowners who are impacted by inflation, but need to do renovations as a cost saver. 

This arbitrary government restriction should at least be adjusted for today’s prices and indexed as inflation continues to soar.