By Alyssa Schnugg
The Oxford Board of Aldermen will hold a public hearing next week on a proposed ordinance that will require master and journeyman licenses for electricians, gas fitters and mechanical contractors.
Journeyman-level licenses will be limited to work on single-family homes, duplexes and townhouses while Master-level licenses may work on all levels of construction, including multi-family, commercial and industrial construction.
Master licenses will require a minimum of four years of hands-on experience and a passing score on a master level exam from an accredited source. A journeyman license will require a minimum of two years of hands-on experience and a passing score on a journeyman level exam from an accredited source.
“It stands to reason that if the city of Oxford is going to license someone to perform a construction trade in our jurisdiction, then we should actively vet their qualifications as a means of helping to assure our citizens of their competence,” said Building Official Chris Carter.
Current license holders will have one year to take and pass the required accredited exam of whichever level they choose based on what types of work they want to be able to do.
“The exception to that, or ‘grandfather clause,’ is that anyone who currently holds a trade license in Oxford and has held a privilege in the city of Oxford for 10 consecutive years to perform their respective trade will be granted a journeyman-level license without having to take and pass an exam,” Carter said.
Homeowners who will serve as their own building contractor and/or plumbing contractor on their own primary residence are exempt from licensing and can build a home one time in three years. They may not, however, obtain a permit based on this exception and then employ someone else to perform the work.
It will be the responsibility of the master or journeyman who obtained the permit for the work to supervise the work if he or she does not actually perform the work. The master or journeyman shall be responsible for the work being performed as if they had performed such work.
Not everyone on the crew will have to be licensed. The ordinance will apply to general contractors/builders, electricians, plumbers, gas fitters, and mechanical (HVAC) contractors. The license holder will have to present on site for all inspections that apply to their trade.
Before any trade license for electrical, plumbing, gas fitter or mechanical is issued or renewed, the applicant shall provide a surety bond in the amount of $10,000 issued to the city. All builders and/or contractors will be required to provide a surety bond in the amount of $25,000.
“The bond is in place so that if a contractor does work that is not in compliance with any of our adopted codes and refuses to fix the problem, the city and/or the property owner can call in the bond and have the bonding company hire someone to come in and fix the problem at no expense to the property owner,” Carter said. “Our citizens deserve the peace of mind of knowing that we are licensing only those contractors that can prove their competence in a tangible way.”
The public hearing will be held during the Oxford Board of Aldermen’s next regular meeting at 5 p.m. on April 16 at City Hall.
The entire proposed ordinance can be viewed online at http://www.oxfordms.net/documents/misc/licensing_ordinance_change_draft.pdf