If you’re interested in becoming a general contractor in Illinois, there is a lot of potential for business growth and revenue.
Since a general contractor is responsible for all components of a construction project, from budgeting to building codes, there are many things to consider as you begin your contracting business, including licensing and insurance.
Most states require general contractors to be licensed, but the requirements are different in each location. In this article, we will cover the process of getting licensed in Illinois, including:
- How to get a general contractor license in Illinois
- How long does it take to get a general contractor license
- General contractor licenses in Chicago
- Illinois general contractor license reciprocity
- Insurance requirements for Illinois general contractors
How to get a general contractor license in Illinois
In Illinois, where you live determines your contractor license application requirements.
While the Prairie State doesn’t require a general contractor license at the state level, licenses are typically regulated at the city or county level, and those requirements often vary. There are exceptions for roofing and plumber licenses, which require state permits.
The process of applying for a general contractor license is similar in cities across Illinois. Contact your local county or municipality office to learn about specific requirements in your area.
Each city also has a different licensing fee. You’ll need to check with your county or city to complete the local requirements for new licenses and renewals. Once you meet each requirement and pass examinations, you’ll be able to receive the license you need.
How long does it take to get a general contractor license?
Regulatory boards typically process general contractor license applications within 14 days after submission. You’ll receive your license in the mail within two weeks if approved.
Applications are usually detailed and contain a checklist. Always follow every step when applying for a license to save time. Otherwise, boards could return your application to you without approval.
General contractor licenses in Chicago
According to the Economic Research Institute, Chicago is the largest market for general contractors in Illinois and the country's highest-paying city for general contractors, paying more than $133,000 per year.
You’ll need to take several steps in getting your general contractor license in Chicago, including completing an application, purchasing general contractor business insurance, and paying a fee.
Chicago also requires licenses for specific trade workers, including mason contractors, plumbing contractors, wreckers, and electrical contractors.
You’ll need to provide documentation to the Chicago Department of Buildings with your application to determine if you are qualified for a license. The steps for the application include:
- Provide a description of the work and services you aim to perform.
- Specify the classification of license you are applying for.
- Clarify your business structure and provide a business license.
- Identify and verify by affidavit that the applicant or member of your business entity is financially stable.
- Submit your certificate of insurance with the City of Chicago as additionally insured and policy limits ranging from $1 million to $5 million, depending on the sizes of your projects.
- Sign and complete the application.
- Pay all licensing fees.
Contractor license renewals in Chicago
You must renew your license each year. Be sure to begin the process of renewing your contractor license 90 days before it expires. In Chicago, the process for general contractor license renewal includes these steps:
- Complete and sign the renewal form.
- Obtain an updated certificate of insurance.
- Provide a signed copy of the Chicago general contractor license affidavit.
- Provide the business structure documents.
- Write a check for the annual registration fee.
- Mail the package.
Chicago general contractor license fees
The major difference between classes is the amount of insurance required for each classification. There are five license classifications in Chicago. Depending on the cost of the projects you are working on, there is a different fee for each classification.
The classes and fees are:
- Class A – $2,000 fee for an unlimited contract amount
- Class B – $1,000 fee for projects up to $10 million
- Class C – $750 fee for projects up to $5 million
- Class D – $500 fee for projects up to $2 million
- Class E – $300 fee for projects up to $500,000
Illinois general contractor license reciprocity
If you already have an active contractor’s license in a different state, you may be able to take advantage of a license reciprocity agreement. Be sure to check with your local agency to see if this applies so you can save time and money.
Insurance requirements for Illinois general contractors
In Illinois, business insurance is required as part of the licensing process for general contractors. However, general contractors aren’t licensed at the state level, so you’ll need to check with your local licensing authority for requirements.
General Liability insurance
To get a general contractor license, you’ll likely need general liability insurance in Illinois. Commercial general liability insurance protects you against expenses related to an accident or injury that could occur at your job site.
It provides coverage for injuries that happen to nonemployees as a result of your work, legal defense and judgments, and property damage caused by your business operations or products.
Workers’ Compensation insurance
General contractors in Illinois are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have at least one full-time or part-time employee. It covers medical expenses and lost wages for employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their job.
Tools and Equipment insurance
Tools and equipment insurance for general contractors cover your tools and equipment. Coverage can include things like power tools, hand tools, and heavy equipment, and can help protect your business from financial loss if your tools are stolen, damaged, or destroyed.
Commercial Auto insurance
If you have a business-owned vehicle, you will also need commercial auto liability insurance — a requirement for businesses in Illinois. If there is an accident, commercial auto coverage can help you pay for injuries to you or someone in your vehicle, injuries to other people, and property damage.
Illinois requires drivers to have the following minimum coverage amounts:
- $25,000 for each person in an accident;
- $50,000 for all persons in any one accident; and
- $20,000 for property damage to another person.
Commercial property insurance
You can protect your contracting business from damage and vandalism if you have Illinois commercial property insurance. Coverage includes property you own or rent, including business gear, inventory, buildings, and equipment breakdowns.
How NEXT supports Illinois general contractors
NEXT Insurance has helped thousands of general contractors get the right business insurance in Illinois at the right cost.
With our online services, you can apply for coverage, get recommendations and get a digital certificate of insurance within minutes. It’s easy enough to do from your mobile device or computer so you can get to work right away.
Do you have projects in a different U.S. state? Visit our summary of general contractor license requirements in every state.