Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition process (PLAR)

Find out if the PLAR process is the right approach for your residential builder licence application.

Overview

General contractors constructing single family homes and small residential buildings under Part 9 of the BC Building Code must meet a qualification standard before obtaining a new licence. Some applicants may choose to qualify via a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) review. Find out if the PLAR process is the right approach for your residential builder licence application.

Qualifications Requirements for Licences

To meet the qualification requirements under the Homeowner Protection Act Regulation, a general contractor applicant is required to provide proof in two areas:

  • Proof of experience: You must provide evidence of having 24 months experience managing or supervising residential construction, obtained within the last five years
  • Proof of training: You must demonstrate proficiency in each of the required seven core competencies .

You can meet the seven areas of competency by completing a recognized course from an approved education provider. Search our Education Registry to find a range of training options (Use the drop down menu for Offering Type and select Qualifications). Successfully completing pre-approved training will guarantee that the competency area has been met and will fast track the review of the licence application.

You can also demonstrate proficiency in the seven areas of competency by completing a PLAR review. PLAR recognizes on-the-job training, life experience, and other forms of training to establish your licensing qualifications.

Another way to qualify is via a combination of training and PLAR. If you’ve completed some of the required qualifications training and wish to choose a PLAR review for the remaining competencies, this approach might work best for you.

Is PLAR the right path for you?

It’s important to carefully consider your options when choosing the best pathway: whether to proceed with a PLAR review or take additional training to demonstrate proficiency.

As a first step, we highly recommend that you complete the PLAR Self-Assessment Form . This will help you decide if PLAR is the right path for you. This guide explains the PLAR process and the learning outcomes for each of the seven core competency areas. Learning outcomes clarify what you are expected to understand and be able to demonstrate.

Completing the self-assessment will help you determine if you have enough knowledge and experience for a successful PLAR review. Your self-assessment may reveal major knowledge gaps in one or more competency area. If this is the case, you should complete pre-approved qualifications training in those areas, before applying for a licence. The PLAR review typically takes a few months to complete and there is no guarantee your licence will be approved. It’s important to be honest when completing your self-assessment to avoid delays or the possible denial of your licence application.

When considering whether a PLAR review is right for you, please note that 24 months of experience is the minimum amount of experience that a general contractor applicant must have to obtain a licence if all seven pre-approved qualification courses are complete. If you have completed training that you believe is equivalent to one of the competency areas, or if you have a relevant professional designation, 24 months of experience may also be acceptable.

Applicants wishing to establish equivalency based on their hands-on work experience alone (without taking some form of formal training), will need to verify that they have significantly more experience than the minimum 24 months.  To increase your chances of success, we recommend that you only request a review of a competency area through PLAR, if you have a minimum of five years of relevant experience directly related to that competency.

You also need to consider if you have the evidence to support your PLAR review. If you have taken approved or equivalent training, you must submit evidence of successful completion with your new licence application. For example, a certificate of completion or transcript.

If you don’t have training, but have equivalent experience, consider the types of evidence you have to prove that you have the required knowledge. The PLAR Self-Assessment guide includes examples of the types of evidence that may be considered under each competency section. We may ask for more information or evidence if the assessor identifies gaps during the PLAR review.

Previously licensed builders may be able to obtain equivalency for the seven competency areas through PLAR based on their experience. However, being previously licensed doesn’t guarantee a finding of equivalency. Many factors are considered during the PLAR review. This includes the number of homes constructed, how recently they were built, whether there were any claims on the homes and how those claims were handled. If you are a previously licensed builder seeking equivalency based on your experience, please complete and return a Warranty Consent Form to expedite the review of your experience. Please ensure that you list the warranty provider that enrolled the homes under your previous licence on the form. This can be submitted with your licence application. Builders who worked with warranty providers outside of B.C. are encouraged to submit a letter from their warranty provider that confirms the number of homes registered and the claims history for those projects, as well as any other information that speaks to the competency areas the warranty provider wishes to share.

Application Process

If you decide that PLAR is the right path for you, please complete the following steps:

Step 1
Go to the Licensed Residential Builders Portal to start your new licence application.
 
Step 2
When completing your licence application, please ensure that you record a minimum of 24 months experience managing or supervising construction, as well as any training you have completed. Skipping these steps will only cause delays in processing your licence.
 
Step 3
Gather your evidence to support the experience and qualifications noted on the licence application. For more information on acceptable evidence to support your experience please visit our Qualification Requirements for New Residential Builders page.
 
Step 4
Complete the PLAR Application Form for each competency area for which you are requesting equivalency, and include it with your licence application. Don’t forget to include your supporting evidence. You should submit all your evidence in one package, preferably as a PDF. If you submit your evidence in hard copy, do not send originals. Please send photocopies of the supporting material because we cannot return the documents to you later. We also recommend that you submit a resume detailing your full experience. Remember, it’s your responsibility to prove your competency, so make sure you are thorough when putting together your submission package. Missing or unclear information can cause delays in the review process or result in the denial of your application.
 
Step 5
Send in your application package. Once received, it will go through an initial review with a Licensing Officer. The Licensing Officer reviews the application to ensure it is signed and completed in full, that all persons in control of the company are listed on the application, that a minimum of 24 months of experience has been recorded, and that you have obtained acceptance from a third-party home warranty insurance provider. Once the Licensing Officer has conducted an initial review, you will be contacted for any missing information or notified that your file is now in queue for a PLAR review.
 
Step 6
When the Licensing Qualifications Assessor starts reviewing your file, they will provide information to assist you in demonstrating your competency. Responding to requests or suggestions for information as quickly and completely as possible will result in a faster and more accurate result.
 

Decision

Once all material is received and reviewed, one of the following decisions will be made in writing with reasons:

Approved: If you meet the minimum experience requirements and have approved training or equivalent training or experience in all seven competencies, your licence will be approved.

Conditional: If the PLAR review determines that you do not meet one or more competency area, but the gaps are minor, the decision may be to issue a conditional licence. This conditional licence may have restrictions on what you can do as a residential builder and may require you to complete a training course to fill knowledge gaps in certain competency areas.

Denied: If the PLAR review determines that you do not meet one or more competency area, or your experience is insufficient, your licence may be denied. You will have to gain more experience or complete training as indicated in the decision and then re-apply, or you may request a review of the decision if you feel there was an error made in the decision.

Learn more by watching the video. find out if the PLAR process is the right pathway for your residential builder licence application.