By Jill Ralph. Home builders can expect to head back to the classroom. At least in the county of DeKalb, Ga., they can. County officials have proposed new guidelines requiring prospective home builders to be licensed. A similar measure has been brought on a state level, but Christopher Burke, of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, isn't optimistic.

"We don't think they'll [the General Assembly] get to licensing on a state level; they're so busy," says Burke, the HBA's government affairs representative.

The plan would create a licensing board to handle complaints against builders and possibly revoke builders' licenses due to shoddy work or improper practices. Burke says he believes most builders will support the proposal because he said the "bad" builders hurt the reputation of others. DeKalb county is partnering with the Housing Institute, an organization based in Metro Atlanta that promotes quality home building. Together, they would push for builders to be certified by the institute before being licensed by the county. Builders would need three years' experience before being licensed. Less experienced builders would need to pass an exam to obtain a license.

Burke says he thinks small builders will struggle. "It possibly will discourage people from entering the building industry," he says. "We're going to start seeing a lot more education."

The county has not yet addressed who will be required to gain certification. Burke says it may be the superintendents or project managers. "It most likely will be the people who run the jobsites."

Published in BIG BUILDER Magazine, February 2003