Q&A: Does Common Area Work Require Contractor's License?

Q I am on the board of directors of a 336-unit condominium in New Jersey. My question is in reference to the contractors’ registration act that requires contractors to register with the state if they  are doing residential work. Since our condo is considered residential, are the  common areas also residential?  

 I checked with one city code enforcer, and he said that the common areas are  considered commercial and do not require a state contractor’s license. Another city code enforcer says that the entire condo is considered  residential, and requires contractors to have a state license. I have called  several state agencies and cannot get an official answer.  

 —Jersey Board Member  

A “New Jersey’s Contractors Registration provides, generally, that any contractor performing  work involving a ‘home improvement’ must be registered with the state of New Jersey,” says David J. Byrne, Esq., a shareholder attorney with Stark & Stark in Lawrenceville. “The statute itself defines ‘home improvement’ as the remodeling, altering, renovating, repairing, restoring, modernizing,  moving, demolishing, or otherwise improving or modifying of the whole or any  part of any residential or non-commercial property. New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs—the agency given the responsibility of carrying out this law—supplemented the definition of ‘home improvement’ with its own understanding. New Jersey’s Administrative Code provides that ‘home improvement’ shall ‘mean and include any work subject to the code that involves the reconstruction,  alteration, renovation, repair or demolition of the whole or any part of any  building in Group R-2, R-3, R-4 or R-5, or in any building or structure  appurtenant thereto...’ In light of the statutory language, as especially clarified and supplemented by  the administrative code (as a condominium is included within ‘Group R-2, R-3, R-4 or R-5’), renovations, repairs, improvements to, etc., with respect to the common  elements and/or areas or a condominium would constitute ‘home improvements’ such that any contractor hired for that work must be registered.”         

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