office construction Office Design Office Renovation

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Chicago General Contractor

chicago general contractor

Finding the right general contractor is perhaps the single most important part of an office renovation. Unfortunately, it can also be the hardest. According to, there are more than 36,000 general contractors in the United States. That’s a lot of possible contractors to consider. And even when you focus on a single location or state, there are frequently still thousands of options. For instance, there are more than 6,000 general contractors in the Chicago area alone! With so many choices, how do you find a general contractor that is experienced, reliable and available that is also able to ensure your project stays on schedule and within budget? Here’s what you need to consider, whether choosing a Chicago general contractor or one in your own city or state:

Service Area

Have you ever picked up the phone to order take-out only to discover the meal you want can’t be delivered in your area? It’s a bummer, right? Save yourself the disappointment by searching only for contractors working in your specific area. Big cities like Chicago often have a website where you can find information about local businesses and professionals, including contractors. You could also try narrowing your search using other databases and media sources, such as BBB or Yelp. Limiting your initial search to your general area will save you time and frustration.

Licensure and Insurance

General contractors may or may not be required to have a license based on the state and/or city in which they work. The State of Illinois, for example, doesn’t require general contractors to have a license. Nevertheless, the City of Chicago does. Thus, any general contractor working in Chicago must be registered and licensed appropriately according to the type of project at hand:

  • Class A – Unlimited contract amount
  • Class B – up to $10,000,000
  • Class C – up to $5,000,000
  • Class D – up to $2,000,000
  • Class E – up to $500,000

Check state regulations, as well as the rules in individual municipalities and cities, to verify if any special licensure is needed in your area. (You can check individual contractors in Illinois here.) If licensure is required, ask for proof that any potential contractor does, indeed, possess it. While you’re at it, ask about insurance, as well! You don’t want to find someone you think is perfect for a job only to discover later on that his or her business isn’t operating legally.


Typically, the more experience, the better. Once you have a relevant pool of Chicago general contractors, look for the ones who have been in business for several years (at a minimum) and have a sizable portfolio, as well as a lot of references. You want to make sure the Chicago general contractor you hire has the qualifications and expertise to actually bring your vision to life. Past clients who can speak about their own experiences with a contractor can help you determine the reliability, customer service and quality of that contractor’s work.


Seek bids from multiple Chicago general contractors before making a final decision. Review each contractor’s demeanor to see if your communication styles, personalities, timelines and priorities match one another. Sometimes a more expensive bid is worth it if everything just clicks! Other times, an exorbitant bid might indicate something fishy.


Finally, get a contract. Don’t rely on a handshake or goodwill. A renovation or construction project is a major undertaking. Protect yourself by securing a legally-binding agreement with a Chicago general contractor that specifies (among other things):

  • Address of Project
  • Anticipated Start and Finish Dates of the Project
  • Proposed Construction Schedule
  • Cost and Payment Schedule
  • Responsibility for the Acquisition of Permits
  • Termination Rights
  • Other General Terms and Conditions

Want to Learn More?

Hiring a general contractor is an important step in any construction project. To maximize your chances for success, you might wish to partner with an experienced design-build firm. Key Interiors has been in business for over 40 years and has been a reliable Chicago general contractor for all types of commercial construction projects. Please contact us to learn more.

Conference Rooms Office Design Office Furnishing Office Renovation

Custom Conference Room Tables: What to Consider

custom conference room tables

A well-designed conference room is an important asset for most businesses. It not only serves as a designated meeting spot for a company’s many stakeholders, but also often acts as a makeshift lunchroom, packing station, training area, interview room and more, depending on the prevailing need of any specific day and time. As a consequence, it can be hard to find a perfect conference room table — the unmistakable star of conference room design. Indeed, in many instances, companies will need to create a custom conference room table in order to get a table that serves all the needs of their room’s various functions. Here’s what you need to consider before designing custom conference room tables:

The Size of the Room

The first step in designing a custom conference room table is to determine the size of the room in which the table will go. A custom conference room table will inevitably be the focal point of the room.  You don’t want to dampen its impact by building a table that’s either too large or too small for the space. Most designers suggest a table have anywhere from four to six feet of clearance from the room’s walls in order to maintain the room’s scale and ensure people have adequate space to rise, walk and mingle.

The Size of the Table

With the dimensions of the room at hand, you should also think about the number of people your table will need to accommodate. Even if your company only has a few employees now, consider the people you will need to host, along with any company plans for future growth; build a custom conference room table that is able to seat all current and future staff members and guests. Go as big as possible for the room you’ve got and the budget you’ve set. And don’t forget, any table you build will need to be moved through the building and into the conference room itself. Take into consideration especially tight hallways and/or elevators to make sure your table will be able to make it to its destination.


One of the most exciting aspects of designing custom conference room tables is the style that it conveys. Customization is the name of the game, so have fun with it! Your imagination is really the limit, but you should remember to examine the overall style of your office and think about whether or not you want to match it to your new table. There are many different table shapes (such as rectangular, round, boat and U- or V-shape tables) that can each possess many different kinds of features. There are live-edge tables that highlight raw wood along one or more sides. There are single slab and solid tables, and ones built in arrangeable components (i.e., modular). Some have one leg (pedestal table), some have two (like trestle, railway and waterfall tables) and some have more. Peruse design magazines for ideas. Look at catalogs, as well as the furniture in other offices. Then, talk to an experienced designer. A reputable firm can help you narrow your options and pick a style that best suits your needs, your office’s culture and your aesthetic.


Wood isn’t the only material with which custom conference room tables can be made. Tables can also be made from stone, metal, glass and laminate. The material used for construction affects everything from the table’s ease of cleaning to its durability, so pick wisely according to your office’s needs, priorities and budget.


Which, of course, brings us to an important consideration: cost. Custom conference room tables come in a variety of prices. Think about what you absolutely need and add what you want until you reach the maximum budget you’ve set for your custom conference room table design-build project.

The Key Interiors Advantage

A custom conference room table will likely serve multiple purposes. Take advantage of the expertise of an experienced office design firm like Key Interiors to ensure the table you order is the table you really need and will actually like. Our designers at Key Interiors can help you design a custom conference room table that is both versatile and unique. Please contact us to learn more.

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