The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Ask Chicagoist: Construction Permit Requirements?

By Thales Exoo in Miscellaneous on Oct 31, 2006 2:30PM

What's required to obtain a construction permit to reconstruct the wall around a building? Contact? Insurance? Please advise. Thank you.


2006_10_askpermits.jpgHi Toan,

First off, you need to have a building. And make sure it's not one of those historical landmarks, because then you're going to have even more hoops to jump through, and people aren't really going to take too kindly to you doing construction.

Otherwise, assuming the building is your own (hey, Chicagoist doesn't want to give out faulty advice!), getting a permit isn't too difficult. So be sure that you really do get one before starting in on the construction -- they are required by law.

Here in Chicago, we have a brand new city department called the Department of Construction and Permits (DCAP). DCAP is your go-to place for all things permit- and construction-related. This is where you'll need to go to find out about different types of building permits, apply for a permit, check on the status of a permit application, find out about building ordinances and zoning laws, and learn about Chicago's Green Urban Design initiatives.

Unfortunately we can't really tell for sure the type of permit Toan needs without getting more details on what exactly what the renovation entails, but it is possible that a renovation of an existing wall may be able to use DCAP's Easy Permit. The Easy Permit allows home and building owners to easily and quickly obtain a permit to "repair or replace the same or existing elements of a building, without making any changes to the structure of the building." The application requires you to fill out contractor information, general information about the project, and information about the building. You'll get the permit quickly, so homeowners don't have to worry too much about the process and can get on with their work.

If you don't qualify for the Easy Permit, you'll need to use the standard permit application, which will require more detailed plans and information, and potentially a visit from inspectors. Definitely contact DCAP to describe your project to make sure you are filling out the correct form. Unless you are working with a contractor, structural engineer, or architect who qualifies for the streamlined self-certification process (in which case they'll know more about building permits than Chicagoist does), you'll want to be sure you're not wasting time or forgetting anything.

To get more information or to apply for a permit, you can either call DCAP at 312-744-3449, visit the DCAP office in City Hall (121 N. LaSalle St., 9th Floor, Room 900), or use the online permit application (you can also get PDF versions of the applications). In fact, because Chicago's going paperless with such a potentially paper-laden task, DCAP's online permit application process is a much-lauded Green Initiative.

Best of luck with the renovations!

Making some repairs? Need some advice? Email ask(at)chicagoist(dot)com.