Unlike some other trades, the roofing industry has specific standards designed to keep contractors and homeowners safe. Laws and licensing requirements vary state to state, which can make it tough for roofers to navigate what they actually need for their business.
For roofing contractors in Illinois, the answer is straightforward: a roofing license is needed to work in the state. However, the process for obtaining a license and the right permits for a project can be confusing. To help you out, we’ve created a short guide to help you figure out what licenses Illinois roofing pros need and how to get them.
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Benefits of a Roofing License
Licensing regulations vary per state. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that only 21 states require roofers to have a license, and Illinois is one of them. But regardless of where you live in the United States, a license can be beneficial to you and your business.
Even if it’s not required, a license or certification from a third party makes a great addition to your marketing efforts. When customers see you have a license, they know you have a certain standard of know-how, skill, and expertise in the trade. This helps increase their trust in your work and the likelihood of you winning the job.
Roofing Contractor License in Illinois
So who, exactly, needs a roofing license in Illinois? As of Jan. 1, 2012, all roofing contractors must have a license, according to the Illinois Roofing Act. This means that you need that credential whether you’re new to the trade or have been roofing for decades. The Act states that anyone who has the experience, knowledge, and skill to construct, reconstruct, alter, maintain, and repair roofs needs to be licensed in order to do so.
If you think you can get around the law, think again. Unlicensed roofing pros can face up to a $5,000 fine if found to be working without a license in the state of Illinois. You must also display your license number to be seen on vehicles, permits and paperwork. It’s always best to follow the law, folks!
How to Get Licensed in Illinois
To obtain your license in Illinois, you must first decide which license you need. There are two types of licenses: limited and unlimited. A limited license is for contractors whose roofing business is limited to roofing residential properties of eight units or less. An unlimited license, on the other hand, is for contractors whose roofing business is “unlimited”, meaning that they work with residential, commercial, and industrial properties.
Next, you’ll need to take the Illinois roofing exam. Which one you take depends on what license you are getting. There are six examination dates throughout the year and the tests are administered in person in Hillside, Illinois and Springfield, Illinois. The fee for the exam is $226. It’s advised that those taking the test study for it, even if you’ve been in the business for years. There are always new codes and regulations you must know, and a little preparation can go a long way. If you’re looking for study materials, you can find a wealth of information online.
Once you’ve passed your exam, you must apply for a license. At this point, you must also provide proof of insurance, workers compensation and unemployment insurance, if you have employees. You must also submit proof of a surety bond in the amount of $10,000 for a limited license or $25,000 for unlimited license holders. Applications can be found online and mailed in, with the $125 application fee.
Once accepted, you’re now licensed to work in the state of Illinois! Keep in mind that you must renew your license before June 30 every other year.
The Right Roofing Insurance
As we mentioned earlier, insurance is mandatory if you’re planning to obtain your license in Illinois. General liability insurance is the minimum you’ll need if you’ll be working alone. However, if you have employees, workers compensation and unemployment insurance are also a requirement.
Some insurance companies have a package for roofing business owners that includes the insurance policy you need to get your license, as well as extra coverage options for your business. These packages are worth looking into because, after all, there’s a lot that could go wrong in the roofing industry. It will give you and your customers peace of mind that you are fully covered if something unfortunate happens.
Roofing Permits in Illinois
One thing roofing contractors must know are the permits needed for each state. Laws and local codes vary, so be familiar with what your area requires. Even within one state, cities and counties may have their own specific rules and regulations. Always be sure to double check that you have the right permits before starting a job. Not only does an understanding of local roofing permits benefit your work, but it will also ease the fear of customers who may not understand what is required.
Get Help from Other Roofing Contractors
Navigating permits and licensure in Illinois can be tricky. Sometimes, it’s best to talk to another roofing pro who has already been through the process if you’re looking for help. Networking with other local pros can also be a great way to learn more about your industry as well as a trusted source for any questions about your area.
One way to connect with other local pros is through a trade organization. Chicago Roofing Contractors Association is a great place to get connected to other roofing pros in the Chicagoland area. They provide great resources for those looking to obtain their Illinois Roofing License and contractors researching what permits they need. If you’re getting your license for the first time, CRCA can be a great resource as you prepare for the exam and start your business.
If you’re a pro in Illinois and don’t have your license, check when the next exam date is and start studying for it. It’s the law that Illinois roofing contractors have the proper license, so make sure you’re in compliance. Understanding what you need isn’t always cut and dry, but thankfully, there are plenty of resources available to help you on your licensing journey.
Looking for more ways to improve your roofing business? Read How To Bid Out A Roofing Job.