The main topic in the licensing debate is whether licensing affects construction quality. Available literature and previous studies indicate that it does not. The real question is not whether licensing improves quality, but whether the improving quality is the actual purpose of licensing. There is little information available on the purpose of licensing as defined by state licensing departments as well as a general lack of information on how states evaluate whether licensing is fulfilling the intended purpose. In order to effectively resolve some of the issues surrounding the construction licensing debate, the true purpose of licensing and the methods used to evaluate licensing must be defined by state licensing departments, not the industry. The sharing of such information could lead to better construction regulations, improved evaluation techniques, further research, and ultimately, a resolution of the licensing debate. State licensing departments indicated the purpose of licensing as well as methods of evaluating licensing currently used by state licensing departments. Contrary to popular thought, the true purpose of residential general contractor licensing (as defined by state licensing departments) is not to improve construction quality but to protect the consumer's health and life. The license debate will continue as long as there exists a discrepancy between what the industry thinks is the purpose of licensing (improve quality) and what the purpose truly is (protect the consumer). If the main purpose of licensing is, as the states expressed, to protect the consumer, then policy must reflect that idea. Protecting the consumer can be accomplished through mandatory building code inspections without a barrier to entry such as licensing. The information gained from the study provides a foundation for further research on licensing issues that will benefit the construction industry, the economy, and society alike.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





construction, occupational regulation, licensing, licensing departments, residential construction, general contractor



Technology Emphasis

Manufacturing Systems (MS)