The short answer, it depends.
Residential Landscaping encompasses many different projects which vary in scale and price. Some of these projects require specific permits and licenses, while others don’t require any at all. In either case, it is important for you to know what qualifications to look for in a landscaper so that your job is done right.
Below is a guide to common landscaping projects, and the permits and licenses they may require.
- The term “Landscape Contractor” is one that implies licensure. In North Carolina, anyone claiming they are a Landscape Contractor should legally be licensed.
- Generally, if the owner of a residence does all of his or her own landscaping work, they do not have to be licensed to do so. The exceptions to this rule include: when the project includes the addition or replacement of a load bearing structure; the addition or modification of plumbing; any changes to electrical wiring; or the addition of roofing.
- Permits are not typically required for projects that will total $5,000 or less.
- No matter the project, if it will cost $30,000 or more (over the course of 12 months) it requires a licensed Landscape Contractor.
- If the area of a landscape project exceeds one acre, a plan must be submitted and approved by a Licensed Landscape Architect.
What Types of Landscaping Projects Require a Permit?
Whether they require a landscaping license or not, many projects will require certain permits. Any grading project over 500 hundred square feet, for example, requires a Grading Permit. This is to ensure the prevention of pollutants leaving the grading site during development.
A licensed engineer is needed for any wall over four feet, and a Retaining Wall Permit is necessary if the wall exceeds ten feet (tacking on another grand or so to your project). These governmental requirements are in place to help prevent negative environmental impact, and ensure certain safety standards are met. – Note: A licensed, professional landscaper will tell you that it is typically easier, cheaper, and more beautiful to have multiple small walls or terraces.
In an effort to promote compliance, the city of Asheville performs several random inspections per year. This helps to ensure the systems are properly maintained and effective.
Typically, as the cost and scope of a project rise, as do the levels and amounts of permits needed. While the above are some of the more common permits, there are numerous levels of licensure and permits which could come into play depending on your landscape goals. That is why it is important to work with qualified and seasoned professionals who know exactly what is needed to not only get the job done right, but in the most cost effective way as well.
Why Does it Matter that My Landscaper is Licensed?
It turns out it matters a lot, and for several reasons. If you hire a landscaper who is not licensed, and something goes wrong with your project, you may be out of luck.
Licensed Landscape Contractors answer to the NC Landscape Contractor’s Licensing Board, while unlicensed landscapers are not held to any such professional standard.
This board is responsible for issuing license certificates, performing examinations, monitoring violations, and ensuring the general safety and satisfaction of consumers.
One way the board ensures customer safety and satisfaction is by requiring what is called a Surety Bond. Every individual Licensed Landscape Contractor is required to have one, as it acts as a kind of insurance to protect homeowners who suffer a financial loss due to the incompetence of their landscape contractor.
Permits are both costly and time consuming. Hiring a contractor with the correct licenses will save you a lot of money in the long-run, as they will have the qualifications required to avoid many government requirements by using alternative solutions.
When considering who to choose for your landscaping needs, bear in mind the importance of licensure and accountability as it relates to your safety, satisfaction, and budget. Although your project may not require a license, the result of hiring an unlicensed contractor could be significantly more costly overall.
Your Local Trusted Landscape Professionals
Don’t put your landscaping project in the hands of an under-qualified and unregulated company. At Ambrose Landscapes, we provide exceptional value and dependability, as our qualifications ensure your project is not only done well, but that it is done right.
Click here for a full list of the landscaping licenses and certifications we hold.