Qualifications

A Few Things You Should Know About Contractor Licensing, Insurance, and Bonding.

Licensing

There is no general contractor licensing in the State of Illinois of any sort. This is true for the smallest residential repair all the way up to the construction of large high rise buildings.

There are only two trades in Illinois that are required to be licensed by the state. At least one individual who works for a plumbing firm must have passed a state plumbing exam. Everyone else who works there may be “working under” that plumber’s license.

Anyone working with asbestos requires a license from the state of Illinois. Warning: Asbestos is very dangerous! Make certain that anyone working with asbestos proves to you that they are licensed. If you have doubt or questions about license status of any plumbing, roofing or asbestos contractor, telephone the State of Illinois at 217-782-0458.

The only other license required in Illinois is for roofers. A roofing contract is required to have passed a state test, provide proof of insurance and have a true business address.

Anyone advertising that they are a licensed contractor is at best fudging the creative advertising because the most they might have is a plumbing or roofing license.

Unless you are having major plumbing work done contractor licensing has no relevance. Be suspicious of anyone, besides plumbers, roofers and abatement contractors, who advertises that they are licensed.  Ask them what they are licensed to do?  It might lead to an interesting conversation.

When working in a building constructed prior to 1978 where children may be present – homes, daycares, hospitals, apartment buildings etc. – at least the supervisor is required to have a federal certificate of training in lead abatement and the firm is required to have a license.  (see LEAD on this site).

Insurance

There are several insurance items you should check on before letting anyone start work at your home. The best way to check on all of them at once is to ask for a “Certificate of Insurance”. Do not accept a photocopy or a copy delivered by hand. Always ask that the contractor’s insurance company mail you the certificate directly. This is important because it is your only proof that the policy is still in force and the only way that the insurance company knows that they are covering work taking place on your property.

For your protection all contractors, even self-employed trades people, should carry general liability insurance. We recommend that you demand a minimum of $500,000 coverage for work under $30,000 and a minimum of $1,000,000 for work over $30,000. Check with your insurance carrier if you have any questions.

For your protection we recommend that anyone doing work on your property, even self-employed trades people, carry worker’s compensation insurance. Contractors who do not do this are putting profit ahead of customer safety.

Bonding

There is no requirement in Illinois that contractors be bonded. In Illinois the traditional practice of requiring a contractor to provide bonding is limited to public works projects and to very large private projects.

A basic requirement of a bonding company is that a contractor uses a certified public accountant for bookkeeping and tax preparation. Our firm has used Barb Lichti of Lichti Accounting for years. We have a long standing and good relationship with Barb. She is perhaps the most conservative accountant we could find. Barb is not a CPA. Unless we were to change accountants we will never have bonding. We do not plan to change accountants.

For routine projects under a million dollars bonding is an antiquated practice, similar to needing a notary public. It is important that the contractor is adequately insured.

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