How To Obtain A Building Permit  


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  • A building permit is required for new construction, major repairs, alterations, additions, renovations, and demolitions as well as for fences, porches, decks, garages, and work visible from the street on Landmark buildings. Section 13-32-020 of the Municipal Code defines all the specific circumstances where a permit is required and when a permit is not required.

    The property owner is responsible for obtaining a building permit, but may authorize an architect, contractor, or other person to submit and sign the application. The building permit must be obtained prior to the start of any work. Work may not begin simply because an application has been submitted. The applicant should allow sufficient time for plan examination, making corrections and permit issuance. Unless waived by the local alderman, the code requires a 10-day notification period in which a permit cannot be issued except for private garages, fences, sheds or correction of building code violations. In emergency cases, such as fires, tornadoes, or hazardous conditions, the waiting period may be waived.

    Building permit application forms are available via the City of Chicago Web site (cityofchicago.org) as well as at Room 900, City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Street between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Permits for certain projects may be obtained from the Neighborhood Residential Permit Centers. Their locations and hours of operation are available at the Web site as well. Additional information is available by calling the Customer Service Desk at (312) 744-3449.

    There are several permitting programs available for processing permits based on the scope of the application. The Easy Permit Process (EPP) is available for small repair or replacement projects or for residential garages and fences. This process primarily serves projects that do not require permit drawings. The Standard Plan Review (SPR) process serves the majority of the projects that require permit drawings. Within SPR, architects may utilize a Self-Certification program for certain scopes of work that allows architects to certify that the project meets all codes and thereby additional in-depth plan examinations are not required. The largest of projects are reviewed under Developer Services (DS) which provides an extra level of service and interdepartmental coordination to accommodate developers. The Customer Service Desk at (312)744-3449 will be able to direct an applicant to the appropriate permitting method for any given project.

    A permit requires the resulting construction to meet the Building Code, however there are circumstances in which that may be difficult. Under the Phased Construction program, a building may be permitted in stages to accommodate the construction process. Individually, these permits may not meet all codes, but the series of permits will address all issues. This permit type needs to be agreed to by department supervisors prior to submission. Existing buildings constructed under previous codes may have an issue when reviewed under current code standards. Decisions made by staff regarding approval of plans may be appealed to the Building Board of Appeals in that situation. Additionally, the Committee on Standards and Tests is available to review technical issues concerning innovative construction materials and new construction methods and make recommendations to the Commissioner.