A Guide on How to Become a Construction Contractor in the UK


If you are looking to be your own boss or just want a change of pace, then becoming a general construction contractor in the UK may be for you. To become a contractor, you need some formal education, training, and experience, as well as having enough money saved up to start your business.

1. Education and Training

If you are considering becoming a contractor (or already are one), then it is essential to understand that without education and training as a foundation, success as a contractor will be difficult.

There is no degree required for most general construction-related jobs; however, trade-specific certification may be needed. For example: if you want to become an electrician (which requires more extensive on-the-job training and certification), you will need basic math and science skills and attend some course or training program.

Online courses can offer flexible schedules, which allow for completion at home just as quickly as they would in-person courses at your local community college. The same idea goes with apprenticeships — these options give beginners hands-on experience and the ability to work with a mentor, which is an excellent combination for beginning your career.

2. Experience Requirements

Although not always necessary, it is recommended that you gain experience through internships, apprenticeships, or as a laborer before starting your own contracting business.

There are many ways to receive this type of “on-the-job” training, such as working for another contractor, starting as a laborer (pouring concrete), and gaining experience through trade school courses.

3. Money

pile of money

Before you start your own contracting company, it will be best if you have some sort of capital set aside to purchase equipment and run your business. Although other types of financing are available, such as loans from banks or alternative lenders, many first-time contractors opt to put their money towards subcontracting for an established contractor.

Generally speaking, this route takes less time and has fewer requirements (such as no experience or training needed) than building your own company from scratch.

When starting your subcontracting business, it is important to be aware that you will most likely not be reimbursed for all costs associated with running your business, such as marketing, fees, etc.

4. Business Formation

Before you apply for any licenses or certifications, you must decide what type of structure your contracting company will have. There are many types of structures available when setting up an LLC, but the most common are Sole Proprietorship and Partnership.

A Partnership has higher tax brackets than a Sole Proprietorship, so if you only plan on having one contractor working for you, a Sole Proprietorship may be the best option.

On the other hand, if you have a few contractors working for you or plan on hiring more in the future, a Partnership would be a better choice.

5. Licenses and Certifications

One of the most important steps when starting a contracting business is to obtain your contractor’s license. This enables you to work as a construction contractor in the UK legally.

Most local governments require you to place any licenses or certifications on display at your company’s office for any worker to see, making it visible proof that you are certified and can complete jobs on your own.

Depending on where you plan to work as a contractor, there may be additional requirements such as participation in the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) program and obtaining a European Union Construction Products Directive Certificate.

Also, before hiring workers for your construction site, make sure they have their CSCS card or apply for one if they don’t have one.

6. Insurance and Bonds

In addition to certifications, licenses, and permits needed when starting a contracting business, it is also necessary to have the proper insurance before beginning any job.

In general, all contractors must have Workers’ Compensation Insurance, Employers’ Liability Insurance, Public Liability Insurance, Professional Indemnity Insurance, etc. The type of contractor coverage each contractor requires is unique, so consult with a licensed insurance broker who can help determine what coverage is best suited for your needs.

In addition to insurance coverage, it is also required by law to have a surety bond in place before obtaining a contractor’s license. A surety bond essentially protects your clients from any potential issues that may arise when working on their property, such as failing to complete the work or not finishing it on time.

Although several steps are involved in starting a contracting business, commitment and determination can easily overcome the roadblocks. It is best to do research beforehand and find out what licenses and certifications apply to the services you plan on offering.

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