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Licence and examinations

Licence exemptions for certain owner-builders

Work covered by the licence subclasses of Schedule III

Owner-builders are not required to hold a licence to carry out or have carried out construction work covered by the licence subclasses of Schedule III of the List of Licence Subclasses – PDF (109 KB) of the Regulation respecting the professional qualification of contractors and owner-buildersThis link open an external website of the Régie du bâtiment du Québec in a new window..

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Work carried out by a general contractor

Owner-builders are not required to hold a licence to have construction work carried out by a general contractor.

Example:

If a financial institution wants to have construction work carried out on a building that belongs to it and entrusts all of this work to a general contractor (who holds a licence in good and valid form), it does not need an owner-builder's licence. 

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Work carried out by a specialized contractor

Owner-builders are not required to hold a licence where they have the work carried out by a specialized contractor holding the licence subclasses required for all of the work to be done.

Example:

The owner of an office building decides to have renovation work carried out on all of his building's ventilation and air conditioning systems. If he awards a contract for the job lot to a specialized contractor in ventilation and refrigeration, he is exempted from holding the owner-builder's licence.

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Renovation, repair or maintenance estimated at less than $20,000

Owner-builders are not required to hold a licence where the planned construction work involves only renovation, repair or maintenance of their property and is estimated at less than $20,000.

Excluded from the exemption

Modification work, such as the moving of walls, are not included in the exemption.

This exemption does not apply to owner-builders who carry out construction work on:

  • an electrical installation
  • an installation intended to distribute gas
  • a petroleum equipment installation.

Thus, owner-builders who carry out such work must hold the appropriate licence.

Plumbing

Whether they hold a licence or not, owner-builders must declare any construction or renovation related to plumbing.

Details on the project

The amount of $20,000 applies to each separate construction or building belonging to the owner-builder.

As defined in the Grand dictionnaire terminologique, a project is a sole realization of limited duration that includes different and coherent tasks using material, human and financial resources in order to achieve objectives provided for in the terms of reference, while respecting specific constraints. We will add that coordinating tasks is essential to complete a project. There should be no confusion between “coordinating workers on a job site” and “coordinating tasks.”

The same building may be the object of more than one renovation, repair or maintenance project estimated at less than $20,000 during the same year. If these projects are independent, the owner-builder is exempted from obtaining a licence. The project must not be split.

Workforce qualification

The competency card for workers does not fall under the scope of the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ). It is governed by the Act respecting labour relations, vocational training and workforce management in the construction industry (CQLR, c. R-20), and the Regulation respecting the vocational training of the workforce in the construction industry (CQLR, c. R-20, r. 8) (governed by the Commission de la construction du Québec) or, excluding construction, by the Act respecting workforce vocational training and qualification (CQLR, c. F-5), which is governed by Emploi-Québec. For any question about workforce qualification, we recommend contacting these organizations.

Examples of application

Example 1:

An owner of a restaurant wants to upgrade the dining room of his restaurant. He plans to redo the finishing, change the luminaires without touching the wiring, and change the old fire bell. The owner will also replace the damaged part of the ventilating duct, and the air conditioner. The amount of all the work is estimated at less than $20,000.

The owner must hire an electrical contractor (subclass 16, Schedule II) for the work relating to electrical installations (lighting, and wire the air conditioner).

However, the owner may carry out the work authorized by subclasses of Schedule III (gypsum, painting, floor finishing, etc.) by himself, with the help of his employees, and even certain work of Schedule II (replacement of an air conditioner and of a part of the ventilation duct).

He is exempted from holding a licence as the work he plans on doing is only related to the repair, maintenance and renovation without any modification, such as the moving of walls, and because the amount of all the work is estimated at less than $20,000. This exemption applies even if he concludes many contracts with specialized contractors of Schedule II. If he chooses to have the work done by a contractor, the contractor must hold the appropriate licence.

Example 2:

An owner of many restaurants plans to redo the dining rooms of all his restaurants. He does not have to hold a licence if, for each restaurant, the work he carries out is estimated at less than $20,000.

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Work on a structure intended for the personal use of a natural person or his family

An owner-builder who is a natural person who carries out construction work or has it carried out on a single-family home or on a structure intended for his personal use or the use of his family does not have the obligation to hold a licence.

Aspects to remember

  • This exemption applies only to a natural person.
  • The single-family home must be used as a dwelling for the natural person who built it or his family. It must not include any business or lodging, nor generate income.
  • A natural person who wishes to build a single-family home for the purpose of s
  • elling it is assumed to be a building contractor and must hold a contractor's licence.
  • A natural person who wishes to build a single-family home for the purpose of leasing it may not benefit from this exemption; he must hold an owner-builder's licence.
  • At no time is a natural person allowed to carry out construction work on an installation intended to use gas, a petroleum equipment installation or an electrical installation without holding the appropriate licence.
  • "Structure intended for his personal use" means, in particular, a garage or a shed that has no commercial use and is reserved exclusively for the use of the owner (natural person) or his family.

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Work carried out by municipal employees

A municipality does not have to hold an owner-builder's licence when it has its employees carry out construction work on the following civil engineering works:

  • highways, streets, roads, and their infrastructure as well as all works and installations related to their development and management (e.g. signage, sound barriers, pavement markings, etc.);
  • sidewalks;
  • water supply or sewer mains;
  • parks, other than buildings;
  • landfill sites;
  • paving.

This exemption does not apply to a municipality that carries out construction work on:

  • an electrical installation;
  • an installation intended to distribute gas.

A municipality that carries out such work must hold the appropriate licence.

For more information on the obligations of municipalities that carry out work, see the page Si la municipalité effectue elle-même des travaux (If the municipality carries out work itself).

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Maintenance or repair work carried out by an owner-builder's employees

Owner-builders do not have to hold a licence if they have maintenance or repair work carried out in their building by employees who usually perform such work or who are production workers in an establishment and were hired directly by an employer other than a contractor.

The employees in question may be permanent, regular, temporary or casual employees.

The amount of the work does not matter.

This exemption does not apply to owner-builders who carry out construction work on:

  • an electrical installation;
  • an installation intended to distribute gas.

Thus, owner-builders who carry out such work must hold the appropriate licence.

Examples:

  • The owner of a commercial building has his employees do mechanical maintenance on the building.
  • The owner of a shopping centre has the roof over his stores repaired by his employees.
  • The superintendent of a residential building repairs a plasterboard wall.

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Work related to mining exploration or operations carried out by the company's employees

Construction work directly related to mining exploration or the operation of a mine carried out by the employees of a mining business is exempt from the obligation for the owner-builder to hold a licence.

Note that a mining business is not required to hold a licence to have its employees do construction work on a gas or electrical installation, where such work is directly related to mining exploration or the operation of a mine.

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Work related to forest development and carried out by the employees of a forestry undertaking

Construction work directly related to forest operations and carried out by the employees of a forestry business is exempt from the obligation for the owner-builder to hold a licence.

The exemption does not apply if the work involves an installation intended to use or distribute gas or an electrical installation. A forestry business that has its employees do such work must hold an owner-builder’s licence.

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Work on power transmission lines carried out by the company's employees

Construction work on power transmission lines carried out by the employees of an electricity distributor is exempt from the obligation for the owner-builder to hold a licence.

Note that an electricity distributor is not required to hold a licence to have its employees do construction work on a gas or electrical installation, where such work involves power transmission lines.

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Work related to the electrical installation of an electrical station or a substation used for generating, transmitting, transforming or distributing electrical power, and carried out by the employees of a public electrical power distribution undertaking

A public electrical power distribution undertaking is not required to hold an owner-builder’s licence to have its employees carry construction of the electrical installation of an electrical station or a substation, used for generating, transmitting, transforming or distributing electrical power.

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Work carried out by an owner-builder holding a contractor's licence

Contractors, without holding an owner-builder's licence, may carry out or have carried out on their own account construction work that they are authorized to do or have done by someone else.

However, the work must be carried out on the property of the contractor (business) and not on the personal property of the company's executive or executives.

Example:

A passenger and freight elevator contractor may, without holding an owner-builder’s licence, do the renovation work on the elevators in buildings he owns or have it done.

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