South Carolina Contractors and Residential Home Builders must be properly licensed or they cannot either bring a lawsuit or file a mechanic’s lien to collect money owed on a construction project.  The license requirements for contractors is found at S.C. Code Ann. §40-11-5 which states:

No entity or individual may practice as a contractor by performing or offering to perform contracting work for which the total cost of construction is greater than five thousand dollars for general contracting or greater than five thousand dollars for mechanical contracting without a license issued in accordance with this chapter.

Section 40-11-370(c) of the South Carolina Code relating to contractors precludes an unlicensed contractor from bringing a lawsuit to collect past due amounts:

(C) An entity which does not have a valid license as required by this chapter may not bring an action either at law or in equity to enforce the provisions of a contract. An entity that enters into a contract to engage in construction in a name other than the name that appears on its license may not bring an action either at law or in equity to enforce the provisions of the contract.

Likewise, to file a mechanic’s lien in South Carolina, a contractor must provide the county clerk of court or register of deeds proof that he is licensed or registered if he is required by law to be licensed or registered.  S.C. Code Ann. §40-11-20.  If a contractor or subcontractor is not licensed and South Carolina law requires them to be licensed, such contractor or subcontractor cannot file a valid mechanic’s lien.

Residential Home Builders are also required to be licensed.  Section 49-59-20(6) defines a residential builder as:

“Residential builder” means one who constructs, superintends, or offers to construct or superintend the construction, repair, improvement, or reimprovement of a residential building or structure which is not over three floors in height and which does not have more than sixteen units in any single apartment building, when the cost of the undertaking exceeds five thousand dollars. Anyone who engages or offers to engage in such undertaking in this State is considered to have engaged in the business of residential building.

Residential specialty contractors are required to be licensed.  This includes a host of trade subcontractors defined in S.C. Code 49-59-20(7).

You can check to determine whether a contractor is licensed as a general contractor, mechanical contractor, residential home builder or residential specialty contractor on South Carolina Labor, Licensing and Registration’s website found at