Construction Law

Understanding Licensing Classifications in Tennessee featured image

Understanding Licensing Classifications in Tennessee

In the State of Tennessee, there are six different types of licenses that construction professionals are required to obtain for specific types of work. Generally, if a project costs $25,000 or more, a contractor or subcontractor will need to be licensed in one of the six license classifications we will cover in this article. Remember, if a complaint has been made against your license, this can lead to serious ramifications, including the loss of your license. If your license is at risk, consult a Nashville license defense attorney today. 

Obtaining Licensing in Tennessee

Although licensing is required for some professionals that work on projects that are less than $25,000 (like plumbers or electricians), contractors and some subcontractors need to obtain a license classification along with a monetary limit for projects that are $25,000 or more. However, some counties in Tennessee require a Home Improvement License for any contractor working on jobs over $3,000. New license applicants are required to take an exam. In some cases, out-of-state contractors can obtain a license without retaking an exam if they are eligible for the State of Tennessee’s Trade Exam Waiver Agreement. To learn more about the specific exemption requirements that allow you to waive a trade exam, consult a Nashville license defense lawyer.  

The License Classification System

Building construction projects can be segmented into six licensing classifications. Here is some information on each of these classifications: 


The most common form of licensing, BC covers everything from residential to commercial to industrial projects. This type of licensing covers the 34 building categories, including carpentry, drywall, masonry, foundations, and roofing, and demolition to name a few.    

Residential (BC-A) 

Any type of construction service (building, repair, remodeling, and improvements) for one, two, three, or four family unit residences requires residential licensing. It’s important to note that the residence cannot exceed three stories in height to perform work under this license.  

Related: Implied Warranties in Residential Construction Contracts 

Limited Residential (BC-A/r) 

Out of the six classifications, this is the only one that doesn’t require taking an exam. A contractor is permitted to take a course instead at an approved state community college. This license does come with significant limitations. For example, contractors can only work on single family homes in which the project costs cannot exceed $125,000. 

Commercial (BC-B) 

This license classification authorizes a contractor to perform a wide range of tasks (construction, erection, repair, demolition) on any type of commercial construction project, including residential construction projects with structures greater than three stories in height. Like the BC license, contractors can perform any of the 34 building categories with this license. 

Related: Common Problems on Megaprojects and How to Avoid Them 

Small Commercial (BC-b(sm)) 

As long as the project does not exceed $750,000, a contractor with a small commercial license can perform any of the above BC-B tasks on a commercial project, including construction, erection, repair and demolition. 

Industrial (BC-C) 

In order to work on manufacturing plant projects, a contractor is required to have an industrial license. Contractors can perform many similar tasks to those allowed by a commercial license, including erection, repair, and demolition. 

To learn more about Tennessee’s “Classification Outline,” we encourage you to visit the Department of Commerce and Insurance’s website. If you require license defense, speak with a construction attorney. 

If you would like to speak with a Nashville license defense lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.