Passing today's contractor's exams can be a major task. This book shows you how to study, how questions are likely to be worded, and the kinds of choices usually given for answers. Includes sample questions from actual state, county, and city examinations, plus a sample exam to practice on.
This book isn't a substitute for the study material that your testing board recommends, but it will help prepare you for the types of questions – and their correct answers – that are likely to appear on the actual exam. Knowing how to answer these questions, as well as what to expect from the exam, can greatly increase your chances of passing.
Write Your Own Review
Chapter 1 Print Reading, 13
Chapter 2 Building Calculations, 35
Chapter 3 Law and Business Management, 59
Chapter 4 Site Work, Demolition and Construction, 93
Chapter 5 Foundations, Formwork, and Retaining Walls, 107
Chapter 6 Interior Finishes, 123
Chapter 7 Exterior Finishes, 137
Chapter 8 Roofs and Roof Structures, 151
Chapter 9 Structural Loads, 163
Chapter 10 Concrete and Masonry, 175
Chapter 11 Steel Construction, 185
Chapter 12 Fire Protection Systems, 195
Chapter 13 Related Trades, 205
Chapter 14 Types of Construction, 215
Chapter 15 Special Construction, 231
Chapter 16 Special Equipment, 241
Chapter 17 Safety Codes, 249
Chapter 18 Final Examination, 257
Appendix I State Contractor's Examination Offices, 305
Appendix II National Assessment Institute Locations, 309
Appendix III Answers to Final Examinations, 311
The primary reason that states, counties, and cities license building contractors is to protect public health, safety, and welfare. State laws accomplish these goals by preventing unqualified people from practicing a given profession or occupation. To become licensed, potential building contractors must meet minimum standards of experience and sometimes education. Licensing is also a formal and legal way of defining a trade or profession and assuring that those who meet the predetermined standards necessary for licensing can provide the public with competent and knowledgeable services and/or work. Licensing bodies serve society in a positive way and provide the following benefits:
- Screening applicants to ensure that they possess those minimum qualifications necessary for safe practice.
- Providing 6 mechanism for investigating charges of incompetence or faulty installations.
- Setting standards of practice and codes of conduct. These standards give the public a basis for determining acceptable quality in workmanship, service, and conduct.
A governmental agency which will first investigate charges of a contractor licensee's incompetence or failure to perform work and then will take the appropriate disciplinary action, helps to protect the profession from incompetent, unethical, or dishonest practitioners. It also serves notice on others that the regulatory agency will not tolerate practitioners whose activities may not be in the public interest.
Licensing in the United States
Standards for licensure are set forth by law or regulations. State, county, or city professional and occupational boards have the responsibility for filling in specific details through the rule-making process. Such boards have responsibility for deter- mining the content of the licensing examination and for interpreting certain other requirements. Furthermore, these same boards are responsible for determining who is qualified to be licensed.
In most areas, applicants apply to the appropriate agency by filing a form supplied by the board, paying the appropriate fee, being approved, and taking a written examination.
Most first-time applicants for a building contractor's license have been working in the building construction industry for a long time, accumulating much on-the-job experience. Yet many of them do poorly on a written examinations because the thought of taking exams worries them, or they do not know how to prepare for such exams.
This book shows how to properly take examinations, how to build the confidence you deserve, and how to keep exam anxiety from getting in the way of your knowledge.
What better way to prepare for your building contractor's examination than to study sample questions from actual state, county, and city examinations - in the privacy of your own home?
Building Contractor's Exam Preparation Guide will also help you:
- Familiarize yourself with state, county, and city testing procedures.
- Eliminate pre-exam anxiety.
- Better understand the subject appearing on contractor’s examinations.
Building Contractor's Exam Preparation Guide covers all the topics that will appear on any con- tractor's examination. Once you have reviewed the basic subject matter (using the hundreds of sample questions in this book), you can take the full-length practice examination that is included at the end of this book. This practice exam covers the same subject areas and types of questions that appear on actual contractor's examinations throughout the United States.
State Building Construction Requirements
Any person, firm or corporation engaged in contracting building projects in Alabama costing over $ 1 0,000 shall be required to be licensed. A license is also required for any type of swimming pool construction or repair costing more than $5,000
General contractors may not submit bids or do work until they are registered by the Alaska Department of Commerce and Economic Development. Bids from subcontractors may not be used unless that subcontractor is also registered.
Alaska has not adopted any state-wide building codes. However, most localities have adopted the Uniform Building Code (UBC), as published by the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO).
Any person, firm or corporation must submit evidence of qualifications to engage in contracting in Arizona, and shall be licensed as described in the Arizona State Contracting Licensing Laws and Regulations.
Any construction work in excess of $20,000 is regulated at the state level. Residential construction work, however, may be regulated at the local level.
Licensing is required for all building construction involving projects of $300 or more. First time applicants are subject to a business law examination and a trade examination. Exam results are good for 5 years.
Most building construction work, other than electrical and plumbing, is regulated in varying degrees by cities or counties.
To safeguard life, health and property, no person is allowed to engage in or offer to practice as a general contractor or major subcontractor in the state unless such person has secured a license as provided by the Connecticut General Statutes and the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies Statute.
Building codes used in Connecticut include: BOCA National Building Code, BOCA Supplement, State of Connecticut Code Supplement, and OSHA Standards for the Construction Industry.
A license is required for any type of building construction in Delaware. Contractor licenses are issued for a one-year period, expiring on December 31st. The average processing time for a first-time applicant is approximately 6 weeks.
District of Columbia
Licenses are required only for home improvement contractors in the District of Columbia. Other contractors may be required to demonstrate their ability to handle a project before contracts are awarded.
Building construction in the state of Florida, depending upon the circumstances, is regulated by either the local/municipal level or by certification at the state level.
Only specialty building construction trades are handled at the state level in Georgia. Some municipalities and counties, however, may require building contractors to be licensed.
Every aspect of building construction is regulated at the state level in Hawaii. At the present time, no written examination is required for building contractors; only a performance bond for each project.
Building construction is not regulated at the state level; only electrical construction work is regulated. However, local cities and counties may require licensing.
Except for public works, building construction is not regulated at the state level. Some cities and counties, however, do have licensing requirements.
State licensing requirements exist for plumbing contractors only. Some cities and counties, however, may require licensing for building construction.
All building construction may require state registration. All work preformed for the state or a state agency definitely requires registration.
Licensing for building construction is not handled on the state level in Kansas. Many cities and counties, however, have licensing requirements and a bond is required for all contracts. In lieu of local examinations, code exams given by the Inter- national Congress of Building Officials and Block & Associates are recognized by the local licensing authorities. The examinations recognized are the ICBO's General Contractor exam (4 hours, open book) and Block's Kansas UBC exam (6 hours, open book).
Licensing for building construction is not handled on the state level in Kentucky. Many cities and counties, however, have licensing requirements.
Licensing is required for all building construction exceeding $50,000 in cost. Building contractors must pass a written examination dealing with the specific trade as well as business law.
Licensing for building construction is not handled on the state level in Maine. Many cities and counties, however, have licensing requirements.
Home improvement contractors are licensed at the state level. Other construction work requires registration by the state.
Building construction up to 35,000 cu. ft. re- quires a licensed contractor supervisor. Many cities and counties in Massachusetts have their own examinations and prequalification requirements.
Residential construction requires licensing at the state level. All other building contractors are regulated at local city or county level.
Residential building and remodeling contractors are licensed at the state level. All other building contractors are regulated at a local city or county level.
Any person contracting or undertaking projects as a prime contractor, subcontractor or sub-subcontractor in the state of Mississippi must have a Certificate of Responsibility or a Residential Builder's License, depending upon the size and type of project.
The Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) is the standard building code in Mississippi. The state also uses OSHA Standards for the Construction Industry.
Construction is not regulated at the state level in Missouri. Some municipalities and counties, however, may require building contractors to be licensed.
All construction work over $500 requires registration, but licensing of contractors is not held at the state level. Some municipalities and counties, however, may require building contractors to be licensed.
Contracts exceeding $2,500 by out-of-state con- tractors are regulated at the state level in Nebraska. Some municipalities and counties, however, may require building contractors to be licensed.
All building construction in the state of Nevada is regulated at the state level. A license is not required when a contractor performs work for the federal government on federal land.
General building construction is not regulated at the state level. Many cities and counties, however, have licensing requirements.
New residential building construction, maintenance, and repair is regulated at the state level. Many cities and counties have licensing requirements for other building construction projects.
All building construction is regulated at the state level in New Mexico.
Building construction is not handled on the state level in New York. Many cities nad counties, however, have licensing requirements.
All building construction is regulated at the state level in North Carolina. Applicants for a general contractor's license must pass trade and law examinations before a license will be issued.
All construction work exceeding $2,000 per project is handled at the state level in North Dakota. Some cities and counties may also have licensing requirements.
Licensing for building contractors is not handled on the state level in Ohio. Some municipalities and counties, however, may require building contractors to be licensed.
Building construction is not regulated at the state level in Oklahoma. Many cities and counties have licensing requirements for building construction projects.
All building construction costing over $500 is regulated at the state level in Oregon. One responsible individual per new contracting business must complete 16 hours of business and law classes before an application can be made. General contractors are further required to post a bond to bid on construction work.
Building construction is not handled on the state level in Pennsylvania. Many cities and counties have licensing requirements for building construction projects.
Residential building construction of 4 dwelling units or less is regulated at the state through registration. Many cities and counties have licensing requirements for other building construction projects.
General building construction projects costing over $30,000 are regulated at the state level in South Carolina. Residential general work over $5,000, and residential specialty work over $200, also requires a state license.
General building construction projects, and licensing thereof, are not handled at the state level. Many cities and counties have licensing requirements for building construction projects.
Any person, firm or corporation engaged in contracting in Tennessee shall be required to submit evidence of qualifications to engage in contracting, and shall be licensed as described in the State of Tennessee Contractors' License Law.
The Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) is the standard building code in Tennessee. The state also uses OSHA Standards for the Construction Industry.
Building Construction is not handled on the state level in Texas. Many cities and counties have licensing requirements for building construction projects.
All building construction work costing over $500 is regulated at the state level in Utah. The size of each construction project is limited, based on the financial statement of each individual contractor.
Building Construction is not handled on the state level in Vermont. Many cities and counties have licensing requirements for building construction projects.
Building construction work in excess of $ 1,000 is regulated at the state level. Applicants for a building or general contractor's license must pass an open book examination on regulations and statutes of the Contractor's Board and business management practices.
Construction work of all kinds is regulated at the state level in Washington. However, building contractors are not required to take any examination at the present.
All construction work costing over $1,000 (including materials and labor) is regulated at the state level. Applicants for a building contractor's license must pass an open book examination on business and law, and a trade specific test, with a minimum score of 70%. Furthermore, before undertaking a construction project, the contractor must show proof of Worker's Compensation and Employment Security coverage.
Building construction is not regulated at the state level in Wisconsin. Many cities and counties, however, have licensing requirements for building construction projects.
Building construction is not regulated at the state level in Wyoming. Many cities and counties, however, have licensing requirements for building construction projects.
How to Prepare for the Contractor’s Exam
This book is a guide to preparing for building contractor's examinations throughout the United States. It is not, however, a substitute for studying the recommended references. It will not teach you all about the building construction industry; you need some prior knowledge and experience first. But this book will give you a complete knowledge of the type of questions asked in any contractor's exam. It will also give you a "feel" for the examination and provide some of the confidence you need to pass.
The emphasis is on multiple-choice questions because that's the style that nearly all tests utilize. Questions are grouped into chapters, each chapter covering a single subject. This will help you discover your strengths and weaknesses. Then when you take the final exam in the back of this book, you can analyze the questions you miss. You will probably notice you are weaker in some subjects than others. When you learn where your weaknesses are, you will know what areas need further study.
The preparatory questions in the front part of this book have the answer after each question. When reading a question, cover the answer with a card or a ruler of an appropriate size. Read the question carefully. Mark your answer on a separate sheet of paper before moving the card or ruler that covers the correct answer. Then slide the card or ruler away and check to see if your answer is correct. If it isn't, read the responses under the answer to find out why it is wrong.
How to Study
Set aside a definite time to study, following a schedule that meets your needs. Studying a couple of hours two or three nights each week is better than studying all day on, say, Saturdays. The average mind can only concentrate for approximately 4 hours without taking a break. There is no point in studying if you don't retain much of the information. Study alone most of the time, but spend a few hours reviewing with another person before exam day. If you have a buddy that is also going to take the building contractor's exam, work together. You can help each other dig out the facts and concepts you will need to pass the exam.
Try to study in a quiet, well-lighted room that is respected as your study space by family members and friends. If it's hard to find a spot like that in your home, go to the local library where others are reading and studying.
Before you begin to study, spend a few minutes getting into the right frame of mind. That's important. You don't have to be a genius to pass the builder's exam, but good motivation will nearly always guarantee your success. No one can provide that motivation but you. Getting your contractor's license is a goal you set for yourself; it's your key to the future and a satisfying career in the building construction industry.
Questions on state and local city and county examinations are usually compiled by members of the Contractor's Examination Board and also, in many cases, by the National Assessment Institute(NAI). Although the exact content will vary from state to state, and from one examination to another, all will contain questions relative to the building construction industry. Most, if not all, of these questions are covered in this preparation guide.
The format of the actual examination, the time allowed, and the reference material which the applicant may be allowed to take into the examination room vary with each locality. The following is typical of the examination given in many areas:
Building Contractor's Exam
|Subject||Percentage of Total Exam|
|Structural Steel and Rebar||12%|
|Excavation and Site Work||7%|
In many localities, a business and law examination is also required of all contractors; this business and law examination is in addition to the trade examination. Again, the content of the business and law exam will vary from state to state, but the following is typical:
Buisness and Law Examination
Percentage of Total Exam
|Licensing Law and Rules||10%|
|Mechanics' Lien Law||6%|
The Answer Sheet
Most answer sheets used today are designed for computer grading. Each question on the exam is numbered. Usually there will be 4 or 5 possible responses for each question. You will be required to mark the best answer on the answer sheet. The following is a sample of a multiple-choice question:
- Richmond is the capitol city of what state?
You should mark answer C for question I on the answer sheet.
Answer sheets will vary slightly for each examining agency, so be sure to follow any instructions on that sheet. Putting the right answer on the wrong section will almost certainly cause you to fail.
The Night Before
Give your mind a rest! If you have not prepared correctly for the exam by this time, then you can't cram it all into your brain in one night. So take it easy. If the place of the examination is more than an hour's drive from your home, you might want to stay at a motel in the city where the examination is being held. Getting up at, say, 4 a.m. and driving a couple of hours in heavy traffic will not help you to pass the exam. On the other hand, a drive to the location the afternoon before the exam, a good dinner, and a relaxing evening watching TV will help your possibilities of passing. Just don't stay up too late.
There are, however, exceptions to this rule. Some people find it difficult to sleep comfortably the first night at a strange location. If this is the case with you, you would be better off getting a good night's sleep at home and driving to the location the next morning.
Just be sure to have all of your reference material with you, and get a good night's sleep before the day of the exam. If you have prepared yourself correctly, you will pass with flying colors!
The Examination Day
On the day of your examination, listen carefully to any oral instructions given and read the printed directions. Failing to follow instructions will probably disqualify you.
You will seldom find any trick questions, but many will require careful reading. Certain words like shall, should, always, and never can make a big difference in your answer.
Sometimes several of the answers may seem possible, but only one will be correct. If you are not sure of the answer, use the process of elimination.
There are several ways to take an exam, but the following is the method I used to pass the Virginia State Electrical Contractor's Exam a few years ago. This method should apply equally well to building contractor's examinations.
When the exam booklets were passed out for my exam and we were given permission to open them, I spent the first 2 or 3 minutes going over the entire exam booklet, noting the total number of questions. This knowledge allowed me to pace myself. I noted a total of 100 questions on the morning exam, which allowed me less than 3 minutes to spend on each one.
I then started with question number I and continued in sequence through the test booklet. When a tough question was encountered or I found one that I was not sure of, I merely skipped it and went on to one that I definitely knew. This way, I went through the entire test booklet one time and answered about 50% of the questions in a little over an hour. I was quite sure that I had answered all of these questions correctly. However, 70% is usually the minimum passing grade, and at this point, I had only 50% of the questions answered. However, I still had about 3 hours to spend on the tougher questions.
I started back at the beginning of the exam and went down the list of questions until I found one that was left, and answered it. This process continued until I had answered all the questions to the best of my ability. I spent the remaining time reviewing all answers, making changes as necessary.
After lunch, the "afternoon" portion of the exam was handed out, and I used the same procedure as before. I found out a few days later that I had scored 94% on the examination. This method is merely a suggestion; if another way suits you better, by all means use it.
Building Contractor's Exam Preparation Guide
by John Traister and Keeler Chapman
Not long ago, to become a contractor you just needed a thorough knowledge of the trade and an entrepreneurial spirit. Today, most states, counties and cities require applicants to pass a written exam on modern building practice, and many also include questions on construction law and business techniques. These tests can be so intimidating they may cause even the most knowledgeable tradesmen to "freeze up" and score low.
The more ready you are for the exam, the easier it will be. And that's what this book does. It shows you what to study, how questions may be worded, and the kinds of choices given for the answers. There are sample questions from actual state, county, and city examinations. The questions cover building practices from the foundation to the roof, as well as:
- Building Construction Calculations
- Law and Business Management
- Print Reading
- Structural Loads
- Safety Codes
- Site Work
- Fire Protection Systems
- Special Equipment
And there's a practice exam you can use to test your readiness for the real thing. When you sit down in the examination room, what you see on the exam paper will look familiar. While others are sweating, you'll be prepared, relaxed and confident.
Of course, this book isn't a substitute for the actual study material that your testing board recommends. But it will prepare you for the types of questions likely to appear on the actual exam - and that's likely to increase your chances of passing the first time.
About the Authors:
John Traister has been involved in the construction industry for nearly 40 years. Starting as an apprentice during college vacations, he eventually became a master electrician, then a principal in Engineering Associates, Ltd. where he supervised the designers and kept them abreast of the latest changes in the Code. Now a writer, he has shared his construction knowledge in over a hundred technical books and hundreds of articles in trade journals and national publications.
Keeler Chapman, a registered architect, has been designing buildings of all types for the past 25 years. For this project he has called on his knowledge of proper building practice, his awareness of code requirements, and his drafting and artistic skills to provide this manual with clear, informative illustrations.