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Get Quotes from Top Carpenters in Chicago, IL

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Carpenter in the City of Chicago

According to the National Association of Realtors, 74% of homeowners have a great desire to be in their homes after remodeling or home improvement projects. In addition to this, a properly executed woodwork project in your home can improve its overall outlook and appeal and increase its value by as much as 14%. However, it is always advised that you hire only professional carpenters for your woodwork-related projects, as they are better experienced in properly handling the work while reducing the occurrence of carpentry-related hazards. This is particularly crucial, considering there were over 11,000 nonfatal injuries resulting from carpentry-related works between 2015 and 2019.

When looking for a qualified and good carpenter near you, you can rely on referrals from friends, family, neighbors, and other home improvement professionals. Nonetheless, always do your due diligence to ensure the intended carpenter is qualified before hiring them. You can do this by asking the intended carpenter the following questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Carpenter in the City of Chicago?

Any carpenter in Chicago who intends to bid for or perform any type of home improvement work must first obtain a general contractor license from the Chicago Department of Building. Any carpenter who operates without a license may be liable to a maximum fine of $5,000.

There are five classes of general contractor licenses issued by the Chicago Department of Building, and each class of license has a scope of permitted works. This scope is determined by the value of the project. For example, while a general contractor Class B license only allows the license holder to bid for home improvement projects with a maximum value of $10,000,000, a Class A license holder can handle home improvement projects valued at any price.

Interested persons applying for any of the classes of general contractor license must be at least 18 years old and must mail a completed exam application form, accompanied with the relevant application fee, to the Department of Building at:

City of Chicago
Trade License
P.O. Box 388249
Chicago, Illinois 60638-8249

Once the application is approved, applicants can sit for the relevant contractor examination. If they pass the examination, the Department of Building will issue the general contractor license applied for. Interested persons can direct carpenter licensing queries to the Chicago Department of Building by dialing 311 if within Chicago or (312) 744-5000 if outside the city.

You can utilize the List of Licensed General Contractors provided by the Chicago Department of Building to verify the licensing status of your intended carpenter.

How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Carpenters in the City of Chicago?

Carpenters in the City of Chicago charge an average hourly rate of $34.74. This hourly rate is determined by factors like the scope and nature of the project, cost and types of materials to be used, the required labor, and the expertise and reputation of the carpenter. To find the most suitable carpenter for your budget, it is best to get bids and estimates from at least three carpenters near you. You can also reduce your chances of falling victim to scammers and deceptive contractors when you do this.

A carpenter in the City of Chicago earns an annual average wage of $72,270. The table below provides a comparison of the mean hourly wage for carpenters in the City of Chicago against those of carpenters in the rest of Illinois as well as across several other major American cities:

Chicago Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
$34.74
Illinois Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
$33.41
New York City Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
$34.16
Los Angeles Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
$32.37
Houston Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
$21.53
Phoenix Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
$23.50
Boston Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
$31.31
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Comply with the City of Chicago Building Code for Carpentry Work?

When hiring a carpenter in the City of Chicago, you must ensure such an individual is well versed with the provisions of the Building Code and how it relates to your projects. The Chicago Building Code regulates the construction, alteration, maintenance, and use of buildings and structures across the city. As such, you must ensure that when hiring a carpenter in the city, you hire an individual who is very familiar with the Code and its application to your proposed projects. Failure to adhere to the Code's provision attracts penalties such as fines of up to $10,000. You can contact the Chicago Department of Building and Safety for all your code-related inquiries at (312) 744-3449.

Will You Get the Home Improvement Permits as Required by the City of Chicago Code?

Several building projects in Chicago involving construction, alteration, replacement, installation of carpentry fixtures like kitchen and bathroom cabinets, wall framing, and wooden fences require permits. The Chicago Department of Buildings is responsible for reviewing permit applications and issuing several types of permits for building projects in the city.

Project owners or their hired contractors can apply for building permits. However, applicants can first rely on resources from the Zoning Ordinance Administration to confirm if their proposed project requires zoning approval. Also, applicants can verify if their projects will be subject to landmark approvals. It is important to note that the size of your project will determine the type of permits needed. For homes and building improvement, repairs, and replacement that do not require submission of plans, the appropriate permit is an Easy Permit (EPP). All other projects that are not under the Easy Permit category require Standard Plan Reviews (SPR) and Developer Services (DS) permits. Applicants can complete the relevant permit application online. Otherwise, they can complete and submit a duly signed applicable permit application form to the city's Department of Buildings at:

Chicago City Hall
Department of Buildings
121 North LaSalle Street
Room 900
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: (312) 744-3449
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, Mondays through Fridays

At certain stages of the project after obtaining a permit, permittees must schedule inspections with the Department of Buildings. These inspections are mandatory and they are to enable building officials to assess a project's compliance with the relevant city codes.

You can direct all your permit and inspection-related queries or inquire if your hired contractor has obtained the necessary permits by contacting the city's Department of Building at (312) 744-3449. Alternatively, you can visit the office's physical location at the address provided above to make the necessary inquiries.

What Kind of Carpentry Services Do You Offer?

Carpenters in Chicago offer different kinds of services, like construction, repairs, alteration, and installation of different woodworks. Most carpenters in the city specialize in different types of carpentry work, especially rough carpentry work and finish carpentry work. Carpenters that offer rough carpentry work build wooden structures that include tunnels, temporary frame shelters, houses and commercial buildings, and sewer supports. Meanwhile, finish carpentry involves contractors completing and adding more finesse and detail to rough carpentry work. As such, you must ensure that your carpenter specializes in performing the kind of carpentry work you need. Apart from confirming the area of specialization of your carpenter, it is wise to also ascertain how much they charge for their services, so you can draw up a financial plan for the project.

The average costs of some carpentry services in the City of Chicago are provided below:

Carpentry framing (unfinished home addition framing)
$23 - $27 per square foot
Interior trim and molding installation
$8 - $9 per linear foot
Carpentry framing (for new home framing)
$25 to $40
Baseboard installation
$171 - $1,466
Molding installation
$463 - $3,477

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Carpenters in the City of Chicago?

Carpenters in the City of Chicago are not statutorily mandated to maintain general liability insurance policies. However, when hiring a carpenter, it is best to look for a carpenter with adequate and active liability insurance. Work-related injuries are responsible for an estimated 37,000 emergency room visits each year. As such, it is advisable to hire only a carpenter with active insurance plans, especially general liability and workers' compensation insurance, as this protects you from incurring financial liabilities resulting from any bodily harm or property damage that may occur while they work on your project. To be sure your intended carpenter is duly insured, you must make sure you request a copy of their insurance certificate. You should take further steps by verifying if the certificate is active and there is no lapse in the insurance coverage with the insurance provider.

Note that while carpenters in Chicago are not mandated to maintain liability insurance policies, they are required under law to carry workers' compensation insurance policies if they have more than one employee. For more information regarding the worker's compensation insurance for carpenters in Chicago, you can contact the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission at (312) 814-6500.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Carpenter in the City of Chicago

According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, homeowners in metro areas in the United States, including Chicago, spent at least $2billion on home improvement projects in 2019. With the amount being spent on home improvement projects in the city, it is no surprise certain individuals try to get into the home improvement industry for the sole aim of defrauding city residents. There, when hiring a carpenter in Chicago, you must be cautious and ensure you do not end up with a deceptive and fraudulent contractor. For example, in February 2021, two contractors were arrested for taking money amounting to thousands of dollars from different victims without carrying out the job the customers hired them to do. These fraudulent contractors adopt different methods, which include:

  • Falsely claiming to be duly licensed.
  • Attempting to commence work without executing a written contract.
  • Insisting to be paid in cash alone.
  • Requesting full payment upfront.
  • Pressuring homeowners to hire them. Sometimes, they give tight and unreasonable ultimatums.
  • Making unsolicited door-to-door bids, where they offer to carry out carpentry work at unreasonably lower prices.

To ensure you do not fall victim to these scams, the best step to take is to retain the services of a carpenter who is duly licensed and highly qualified for the job. Particularly, you should do the following:

  • Request for references from your desired carpenter. Contact these references to inquire about the work carried out by this carpenter.
  • Obtain bids and estimates from at least three different carpenters. Ensure that the bids list the same items.
  • Always sign a written contract with your desired carpenter. However, do not sign the contract if you are uncertain as to what some terms mean and the carpenter does not give a satisfactory explanation.
  • Avoid making final payment until you are satisfied with the work carried out.
  • Always keep a record of all documents concerning the project. Such documents include executed contracts, invoices, warranties, receipts, and correspondences.
  • Verify the licensing status of your desired carpenter. You can do this by utilizing the List of Licensed General Contractors provided by the Chicago Department of Building.

You can file a complaint regarding carpenter scams and other home improvement scams in the City of Chicago with the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection via the city's 311 system. This city department cannot guarantee restitution even after the resolution of your complaint. If you do not get compensated, or you are unsatisfied with the compensation, you can file legal action at the Circuit Court of Cook County against the relevant individual or business. Note that it is best to consult an attorney and seek legal advice before filing an action in court. You can use the Chicago Bar Association's lawyer referral services to find active lawyers near you. Alternatively, you can ask friends, family, or colleagues.