Everything You Need to Know About Continuing Competency

Everything You Need to Know About Continuing Competency

Everything You Need to Know About Continuing Competency

What is Continuing Competency for Michigan Builders?

Michigan's residential building industry faces challenges due to its short construction season. Builders need to stay on top of their continuing competency requirements to avoid any issues when the construction season begins. 

This article provides information on the requirements for renewing a residential builders license in Michigan, including continuing competency courses and maintaining an up-to-date copy of the Michigan Residential Code book. By staying informed on changes in building codes and safety regulations, builders can ensure that they can meet the needs of their clients and thrive in the industry.

What Is Continuing Competency? 

Continuing competency, also known as continuing education, is a requirement for residential builders in Michigan to renew their license. These courses help to ensure that builders are aware of any changes in building codes and safety regulations.

The Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Authority (LARA) is responsible for enforcing and regulating building and construction codes in the state. By requiring continuing competency courses, LARA can ensure that builders are up-to-date on critical rules and regulations that may have changed since they first obtained their license.

Builders must complete these courses on time, as operating without a valid license can result in fines, penalties, and injunctions. It is also recommended that builders complete their continuing competency courses as early as possible, as the construction season in Michigan can be short and competition in the industry is fierce.

Requirement Notices

In the past, the state of Michigan would send out paper renewal forms to residential builders to notify them of the requirement to complete continuing competency courses. However, this process has recently changed.

Now, renewals must be completed online, and builders must meet their continuing competency requirements before renewing their license. On or around March 1st of each year, a postcard will be sent to builders to notify them that the license portal is open. Alternatively, builders can check the license portal directly at any time.

If a builder has not used the online portal, they will need to create a new account. Many continuing competency courses also include a short video that walks builders through creating an account and renewing their license online.

Why Is Continuing Competency Required?

Continuing competency is required for Michigan builders to renew their license. This requirement is put in place by the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Authority (LARA) to ensure that builders are up-to-date on critical rules and regulations that may have changed since they first obtained their license.

One of the main reasons why continuing competency is required is to ensure that builders construct safe homes and buildings that meet all applicable building codes. For example, amendments to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) or its Michigan equivalent can change the minimum hallway or doorway sizes for homes or the number of inches a stair can "rise." Builders who aren't aware of these changes could continue constructing non-conforming homes for the foreseeable future, increasing both the cost of code enforcement and the cost to the homeowner.

Similarly, changes in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) or MIOSHA are nearly constant, and builders unaware of these changes may need to follow proper safety protocols on construction sites. This could lead to accidents and injuries, which can be costly in terms of human suffering and financial repercussions.

Overall, continuing competency is required for Michigan builders to ensure the safety of the homes and buildings they construct while protecting the well-being of construction workers.

Requirements for Completion

If you hold a Michigan builders license, you are required to complete continuing competency courses to renew your license. If you obtained your license before January 1st, 2009, you would only need to complete 3 hours of continuing education. However, if your license was issued after January 1st, 2009, you will need to complete 21 hours of continuing education for the first 6 years or 2 license cycles. After this period, the requirement decreases to 3 hours. 

Completing your continuing competency requirements doesn't have to be a complicated process and can help you stay up-to-date on changes in building codes and safety regulations. These courses must cover vital topics, including building codes and laws, safety, and business management.

Courses that are three hours long typically devote one hour to each of these topics. However, the 21-hour courses also cover additional topics such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), blueprints, and the International Energy Conservation Code. By covering these topics, builders can stay up-to-date on changes in regulations and improve their knowledge and skills in their field.

What Happens Next?

After completing the required continuing competency course, Michigan builders will receive a certificate of completion from the course provider. While this certificate does not need to be submitted to the State Board, builders should keep it on hand in case of an audit. When applying for license renewal, builders will be asked to affirm that they have met the continuing competency requirements.

Michigan law also requires residential builders to have a current copy of the Michigan Residential Code book. Builders must ensure they have the latest edition to stay up-to-date on building codes and regulations.

What’s Covered in the Continuing Competency Course?

Many continuing competency courses are available; although all products are quite different, all state-approved courses will cover the following topics.

Michigan's building code is incredibly comprehensive and sometimes complex, from the number of exits a home must have to mixed-use and occupancy requirements to energy efficiency. 

Although architects and others involved in the drafting process are generally familiar with code requirements, ultimately, code compliance comes down to the builder (and the dozens of on-the-spot decisions a builder must make during construction).

If a structure is deemed non-compliant with code, the builder may be required to remove or destroy the non-compliant portion. Not only is this expensive, but it is also time-consuming. 

By making just one code mistake early in the construction season, a builder can miss out on work opportunities or run behind schedule on already-booked projects.

Because not even the most experienced builder has an encyclopedic knowledge of Michigan's Residential Code, knowing how to search the code and what types of decisions may be dictated by the code is far more critical than memorizing specific requirements.

By focusing just one hour on the Michigan Residential Code, continuing competency courses can hit the highlights and most recent changes without bogging participants down in nitty-gritty details they may quickly forget.

Safety (OSHA and MIOSHA)

Despite recent safety advances and increasingly stringent safety regulations, the construction industry remains relatively dangerous. 

As recently as 2014, OSHA estimated that 20 percent of all on-the-job fatalities occurred at a construction site. Most of these injuries fall into one of the "Fatal Four" categories: falls, electrocutions, being struck by an object, or being trapped in or "squeezed between" two objects. 

By focusing on safety measures related to the Fatal Four, builders can significantly reduce the risk that they (or anyone on their crew) will be injured or killed due to unsafe working conditions. Michigan's OSHA imposes additional and complementary requirements designed to ensure construction-site safety.

Business Law Topics

With increasing specialization in the building industry, just about every residential construction project draws in subcontractors like drywallers, plumbers, electricians, and flooring installers. While this can make projects more efficient by assigning tasks to those who can quickly complete them, adding more people to the process can also add more complications.

For example, if you're acting as a general contractor and your paving subcontractor quits the project with half the driveway incomplete, what options do you have to avoid delaying the project or paying out-of-pocket to complete it?

Suppose you're performing a custom build for a homeowner who is dissatisfied with certain aspects of the final project or who wants last-minute changes that will significantly increase the cost of the build. Are you obligated to make these changes? Can you sue the homeowner for withholding the final project payment?

Because even the most straightforward residential construction project can implicate these issues, builders must be familiar with construction liens and other business principles. 

Get Signed Up

Getting started with your continuing education courses is easy. Here is what you need to know when signing up for the classes you need.

In-person courses

The advantage of attending an in-person course is that it allows one to ask questions or get more information on specific issues. Michigan Builders License offers live continuing competency courses throughout the year, perfect for those with busy schedules who need more information to complete these courses online.

Online courses

Online courses are the most flexible option and can be completed at your own pace, on your own time. If you don't have three (or 21) hours to complete your continuing competency requirements, an online course can break this down into much more manageable chunks. 

This is especially handy when your license renewal date comes up when you're in the midst of a major project and don't have the mental energy for anything else at the end of the day.

What Courses are Available?

Michigan Builders License produces several high-quality online courses designed for professionals at every level that you can explore more here. All of Michigan Builders License’s continuing competency courses, both in-person and online, are state-approved. 

Now You Know!

In conclusion, continuing competency requirements are essential to maintaining a builder's license in Michigan. These courses help to ensure that builders are aware of any changes in building codes and safety regulations. Builders need to complete these courses on time, as operating without a valid license can result in fines, penalties, and injunctions.

By staying up-to-date on these requirements and maintaining an active license, builders can continue to provide high-quality service to their clients and succeed in the competitive building industry in Michigan.