If you find yourself taking interest in improving your local community, especially through the construction or renovation of buildings, private businesses, public works, and more, then you should consider becoming a general contractor. Working in construction can be laborious, but it is very fulfilling to witness the growth of a community through the completion of construction projects.
As a general contractor, you will not only participate in on-site work but also oversee projects more broadly and steer them in whatever direction you see fit. This position allows for more freedom both creatively and functionally, making it an excellent advancement option for anyone experienced in the construction field.
If you’re a general contractor in Illinois, at OnePointe Solutions, we can work with you to provide you with custom laboratory furniture, industrial furniture, and commercial cabinets for the range of projects you handle.
Home to the third most densely populated city in America, Illinois certainly has no shortage of opportunities when it comes to construction work. Many areas are constantly developing, growing, and changing, rendering them with the frequent need for adjustments or entirely new buildings.
However, licensing in Illinois is not as straightforward as it is in some other states. The rules are often different among the various counties and jurisdictions, which means you will need to check with your local departments to find the most specific information.
Since Chicago is the largest city in the state, we have provided a more detailed process concerning how to gain your contractor’s license there in particular.
According to the Chicago Municipal Code, any person who makes bids and performs work on construction or renovation projects is required to have a general contractor’s license. There are five different classes of general contractor’s licenses in the city of Chicago, separated according to the value of single contract projects:
- Class A License – No limitation to project value.
- Class B License – Projects up to $10,000,000.
- Class C License – Project up to $5,000,000.
- Class D License – Project up to $2,000,000.
- Class E License – Projects up to $500,000.
Job Description: General Contractor
If you are considering a career as a general contractor, it is important to understand the responsibilities that such a job entails. Essentially, general contractors are the head of any given construction project.
General contractors take on many roles throughout the fulfillment of a project, including assessing the original construction site, estimating material and labor costs, formulating and submitting bids to clients, overseeing and participating in on-site construction work, and even hiring subcontractors to perform work in their stead. This is a position that requires the ability to lead and make decisions.
Individuals who are experienced in a variety of construction fields will be more naturally inclined toward the general contractor’s role, as it may require knowledge about anything from the costs and quantities of very specific materials to how long a project may take to complete. A typical project will require the general contractor to first assess the construction site to determine the costs of labor and materials.
Then, they must use this knowledge to formulate a competitive bid (not too costly, but also not underestimating) to the client. If the bid is chosen, the contractor becomes responsible for managing the entire project and seeing that it is completed within the budget and timeline laid out in the bid.
For example, if a bid is created for a food and beverage lab, a general contractor may come to us for a variety of industrial furniture and laboratory furniture including custom workbenches and lab tables for the day-to-day tasks, lab casework to keep the facility organized and clean, and appropriate worksurfaces like stainless steel, epoxy resin, and even phenolic resin for the work surfaces as well. We can even provide fume hoods, drying racks, and laboratory sinks as well.
General contractors need excellent communication and social skills as well because they will be interacting with a variety of different people, including subcontractors, clients, government workers, and many more. If you feel that you possess these qualities and the drive to make improvements to your community, continue reading to discover how you may get started on the path to receiving your official general contractor’s license in Illinois.
To summarize, general contractors are in charge of the following:
- Crew safety
- Equipment and site safety
- Permits and street closures
- Anticipating weather conditions and scheduling accordingly
- Enforcing quality and safety standards
Special Skills & Qualifications
As mentioned above, there are several qualities that a general contractor should possess which are not necessarily learned through any sort of education, but rather gained through experience or simply existing as a personality trait. These are universal traits that all general contractors should strive to embody, as they will make projects run much more smoothly and guarantee higher quality results for clients.
No matter where you work as a general contractor, having the following skills will help you in your career:
- Ability to read building plans and blueprints
- Building/construction skills
- Excellent time management and organizational skills
- Attention to detail
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills
- Budget and purchasing experience
- Comfortable working with new people
- Able to learn quickly and in stressful situations
- Concern for the wellbeing of others and a touch of perfectionism
Qualifications to Become a General Contractor
As of 2021, Illinois does not have a unified state code when it comes to licensing its general contractors. Rather, the specific process varies between the different counties and jurisdictions. Since it is impossible to outline every single jurisdiction’s rules in one article, we will focus on the qualifications for Chicago, the largest city in the state.
Illinois (and Chicago more specifically) does not have any formal education requirements for its general contractors. To begin working in construction, you will need to be at least 18 years old, and most employers prefer to hire individuals who have earned their high school diploma or an equivalent GED. If you choose to go on to college or university, consider a degree in engineering, architecture, or construction management.
Chicago also does not have any formal experience requirements, so applicants do not need to prove that they have worked in construction to become licensed general contractors.
The city of Chicago requires you to provide details about your business structure before you can obtain your general contractor’s license. A business license, which contains all the necessary information, can be obtained from the City of Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Department.
The Chicago General Contractor license application can be found here, and it must be completed in full and signed by the applicant before submission.
When you mail your application to the General Contractor’s Board for consideration, you will also be asked to include many documents.
Declaration of Intended Work
As part of your application, you must submit a detailed description of the work and services you plan to perform as a general contractor based in Chicago. This includes outlining your goals and perhaps any projects you are already planning to undertake.
Certificate of Insurance
You must submit proof of business and liability insurance, provided by a company that is licensed to do business in Illinois. You can obtain a certificate of insurance by contacting your insurance broker and requesting one be sent to you.
Financial Stability Affidavit
The applicant must include an affidavit with their application that verifies his or her financial stability. An affidavit is a written statement confirmed by an oath, and one can be obtained from a local magistrate or notary.
Illinois General Contractor Licensing Fee Overview
Each license classification carries with it a unique licensing fee to be mailed in along with the application to the City of Chicago. The different fees are outlined as follows:
- Class A application fee – $2,000
- Class B application fee – $1,000
- Class C application fee – $750
- Class D application fee – $500
- Class E application fee – $300
Average Illinois General Contractor Salary & Benefits
The average annual salary for general contractors operating in the state of Illinois is between $75,000-$80,000, with those employed specifically in Chicago earning around $76,000. Chicago is even ranked among the top highest paying cities for general contractors.
The Path to Become A General Contractor in Illinois
Now you are practically an expert on the details surrounding the general contractor’s license application for Chicago. Let’s review the basic steps in a brief step-by-step outline to make getting your process started even easier.
1. Obtain Your Business License
As stated above, you can contact the City of Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Department to obtain your business license to be submitted along with your application. It is important to include this document so that the board has an understanding of the structure of your business.
2. Order a Certificate of Insurance
Contact your insurance broker and simply ask them for proof of your insurance. They will request it from the company and have it sent to you as soon as possible.
3. Collect Financial Affidavit
You can visit any local magistrate to have them produce an affidavit verifying your financial stability to the general contractor’s board.
4. Complete and Sign Your Application
The application for general contractors in Chicago can be found here. Be sure to complete the application in its entirety and sign it before mailing it in. Do not forget to include your description of the work and services you are planning to perform with your license, as well as an indication of which license class you are applying for.
5. Pay Licensing Fees
Depending on which class of license you choose, your licensing fee will be different. Again, the prices are broken up as follows:
- Class A – $2,000
- Class B – $1,000
- Class C – $750
- Class D – $500
- Class E – $300
Be sure to include a check with the amount of your corresponding fee along with your completed application.
6. Mail Your Application and Documentation
You’re almost there! Now, simply compile your application, licensing fee, and all other necessary documents into an envelope and mail it to the City of Chicago General Contractor’s Board at the following address:
City of Chicago
General Contractor License
P.O. Box 388249
Chicago, IL 60638