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Chicago Building Permits

Permit Studio offers a variety of Chicago building permits services.
Call us for a free consultation for any building permits questions you may have.

Building Permits Chicago

Residential Apartment Building

Do you need any building permits Chicago for a residential or commercial project? The submittal process can often be confusing from changing requirements and conflicting information. This is where Permit Studio can help. From the Easy Permit or more complex permits, Permit Studio is here to help. Obtaining building permits Chicago is vital for any renovation or remodeling project that can change the look or structure of a building. These permits are important for contractors, and we are here to provide you with anything that you may need when it comes to applying, checking the status of the permit, and keeping any permit up to date. 

Permit Studio is here to fully streamline the whole application process for any permit that you need, we take all of the guesswork out of the steps by providing you with a team that is dedicated to getting your permits approved. 

City of Chicago Building Permit Search

The City of Chicago building permit search is a useful tool that can be used for looking up existing permits on a particular location. To use, enter your address or permit number and what dates you are looking between.


If there are any permits found in the permit database, they will be displayed, allowing you to identify the permits. If it is your permit, you can add it to your account to help keep track of it, alert you of renewal, or other reasons.


Check out our FAQs to learn more about building permits Chicago.

Building Plans
Building Under Construction

Building Permits in Chicago

Building permits in Chicago are required for most construction projects, especially when the project is for business or commercial use. Chicago's Department of Buildings explains that the process of obtaining a building permit ensures buildings comply with Chicago Building Code safety requirements for the protection of building occupants. As part of your building permit, you or your contractor will receive advice and inspections from reviewers and inspectors.

The City of Chicago

The City of Chicago features a variety of architectural designs that can be appreciated. You are caught looking upon old Victorian homes that date back to the 1800s on one street, and then you are greeted by a modern development with a contemporary look and feel on the other. It is no wonder that businesses desire space in Chicago, a city that prides itself on its layout and community.


City of Chicago Building Permit

The City of Chicago building permits cover a wide range of situations, and nearly all construction, demolition, or repairs require a permit. There are streamlined application processes for simple projects. However, Permit Studio can assist you if you need help with building code consulting.

City of Chicago Building Permit Application

A City of Chicago building permit application is submitted online. It requires uploading architectural plans through an e-plan process. Building permit applications for SPR processes can only be submitted by structural engineers, architects, or expediters.


If the project requires below-ground utilities, deep excavation, and similar work, seek approval from the Office of Underground Coordination (OUC). At Permit Studio, our experts can help you through permitting process.

Modern Building
Tall Building

Chicago Department of Building Permits Database

The Chicago Department of Building Permit Datasheet has issued information regarding currently-valid building permits since 2006. The building permits are issued subject to applicable fee payments. If a permit is unpaid, it is not valid.


You can keep up with the constantly changing building codes or let Permit Studio help with navigating the building permit database.

Chicago Building Department Permits

The permit submittal process for each jurisdiction can vary. Get an expert from Permit Studio to help you through the process. The standard plan review can take up to a few weeks or months, but you can save substantial time using an experienced permit expediter.

Black Building
Building Construction

Chicago Building Permit Lookup

A Chicago building permit lookup can be done through a search tool that allows you to filter based on permit type, date range, zoning, company type, construction cost, and more.

Chicago Building Permit Application

Filling Out a Form

When it comes to getting any building permit, the most significant portion is the application. A Chicago building permit application is vital for anyone doing a remodeling, renovation, or construction project. Permit Studio can certainly help when it comes to getting any Chicago building permits. We have worked with hundreds of clients with projects that have ranged from small renovations to large scale projects. Our permit expediting services are here to help keep any project on track and can keep delays from happening.


Even though most of the Chicago building permit applications are available online, there are some parts that will need to be handled in person, and that is where Permit Studio can come in and take over. We handle in-person permitting situations and even those that are done electronically.


There may be instances when there needs to be an application submitted to multiple agencies, such as if part of the project is going to affect the environment, then there is a need for the application to be submitted to the Department of Public Health. We can submit the application to any agencies that need to have a copy of your application.

Architects at Work

Chicago Building Permit Status

Whenever an application is submitted to the City of Chicago, you can look at the Chicago building permit status. Most of the time, you can just check the status online or simply contact us at Permit Studio to look up the information. There are multiple parts that are needed, and most often, they are the permit number, the project information, location, and the contractor or person who has submitted the application. Checking the Chicago building permit status is a great way to ensure that your permit is still good and that it has not expired or has been denied. Permit Studio can handle all of this information for you. We will look up the information and let you know the full status of the permit and if anything needs to be added or renewed to ensure that you are working up to code for any of your projects that you need a building permit for in the City of Chicago.

Chicago City Building Permits


There are various types of Chicago City building permits available, such as:

  • Demolition (Wrecking) Permits

  • Developer Services Permit Program

  • Easy Permit Program

  • Elevator and Conveyance Device Permits

  • Green and Solar Permit Incentives

  • Self-Certification Permit Program

  • Sewer Permits

  • Sign Permits

  • Standard Plan Review Permit Program

  • Tent, Stage, and Temporary Structure Permits

  • Water Service Permits

  • Wireless Communication Installation Permits

Demolition (Wrecking) Permits

Demolition permits are required before demolishing a structure or building, either substantially or fully demolishing the above-grade portion or altering the existing building to permanently reduce the building area.

Developer Services Permit Program

The Developer Services Permit Program is designed for specialized needs for moderate and complex projects.


Easy Permit Program

The Easy Permit Program streamlines the process for simple home and building improvements. Homeowners can repair or replace existing features without architectural plans.

Elevator and Conveyance Device Permits

An elevator and conveyance device permit is obtained for installing or repairing an elevator, escalator, or another type of conveyance device.

Green and Solar Permit Incentives

The City of Chicago offers incentives for building designs, renovation, and construction projects that reduce operating costs, improve environments, and conserve energy.

Self-Certification Permit Program

Self-Certification Permit Program helps simplify building permit applications for residential, mercantile, business, and assembly projects which qualify. The architect of record is fully responsible for code compliance.

Sewer Permits

Sewer permits are required to repair, construct, rodding, adjust, or clean any subsurface structures designed to transport or collect storm and/or sanitary wastewater on public or private property.

Sign Permits

When placing a sign on land, structure, building, or business, a sign permit is often required in the City of Chicago.

Standard Plan Review Permit Program

The main permit process requires architectural plans to be provided, known as the Standard Plan Review Process.

Tent, Stage, and Temporary Structure Permits

A permit is often required for tents, stages, and other similar structures. Temporary structures installed for less than 180 days have a streamlined process.

Water Service Permits

Permits in relation to the alteration, repair, disconnection, or connection of water services.

Wireless Communication Installation Permits

Installing wireless communication equipment, towers, antennas, or other related equipment requires a Wireless Communication Installation Permit.

Office Meeting

Get Your Building Permits without any Delay

Permits are typically reviewed and approved in a few weeks, depending on how you applied and what kind of permit it is. Despite this, by hiring a permit expediter, you can ensure your permit approval efficiently and without delay by taking the proper precautions and following the right strategy. This article will go over the different ways you can receive Chicago Building Permits and the City of Chicago building permit application.

If you plan to apply for a building permit at City Hall, make sure you are prepared by completing the following steps:

City Center

Make Sure The Violations Are Fixed: In your plans, if you notice you have any building code violations, provide proof that the violations have been or will be resolved. You can provide proof of compliance by providing a copy of the building permit you obtained to correct said violations or by including a scope of work in your plans that will remedy the violations.


Any new permits must be approved after the stop-work orders are resolved.


If you owe any debt to the City, make sure to pay it before applying for a permit. Your permit will not be approved until these debts have been settled.


As part of the permit process, you need to check whether zoning approval is required. If you need assistance determining whether zoning approval is needed for your project and if it needs landmark approval in Chicago, the Zoning Ordinance Administration can provide a staff member who can assist you. In addition to helping you with zoning applications, they can also review plans, resolve issues, and resolve concerns. It is possible to need zoning variances, adjustments, or exceptions for your project, which may delay the process of obtaining a building permit.

Different Types of Chicago Building Permits Review:

Business Meeting

Easy Permit

Chicago Easy Permit simplifies obtaining a permit for minor, simple improvements. Remember that if your project involves repairing and replacing minor elements, there is no need for an architectural plan.

Until June 2021, Chicago City Hall will offer the Easy Permit program in Room 900 in City Hall. Typically, the program does not require more than one visit to be completed, and permits are issued the same day. Before arriving at City Hall, remember to have all your application forms filled out and ready, plus any additional documents needed. Applicants may be able to submit their applications online. Check your project's requirements to see if it is possible to get Chicago Building Permit with the Easy Permit process.

Standard Plan Review

Chicago Building Permits review this type of plan the most. A small to mid-sized new construction project or renovation typically involves up to 80 feet of high buildings and commercial properties under 150,000 square feet.

Applicants for Standard Plan Reviews can submit/review their applications through the City's electronic plan review system. Every project has a manager to facilitate technical plan reviews, ensure compliance with the plan, and issue permits.

An architect or expeditor must upload plans electronically to E-Plan to apply for a permit online. Ensure that the application includes the property owner's contact information to ensure notification. Any technical or regulatory reviews will be handled by your Project Manager, who can guide you through the process.

If necessary, any corrected plans may be resubmitted online 24/7 by the applicant of record. Upon completing the review, the applicant will receive an email letting them know if the Chicago building permit has been issued.



By completing a special training course and registering within the department, Illinois-licensed architects and structural engineers will certify that the project complies with the Chicago Building Code and other municipal codes. This is available to small and medium-sized commercial projects that meet the eligibility requirements for City of Chicago Building Permits.

Developer Services

Developer Services is designed to meet the permitting needs of highly complex new construction and renovation projects. These include high-rise buildings over 80 feet high, sizeable open-air assembly structures, institutional or mercantile structures over 150,000 square feet, technology centers, and deep foundations 12 feet deep or more significant.

Applicants who wish to apply for developer services should meet a project manager at City Hall, room 900. Applicants can request appointments online through their website.

In this meeting, a Project Administrator will provide the applicant with information on the coordinated review process, a checklist of all required documents and plans, and an estimation of when the permit will be issued.

Throughout the entire permit review process, the Project Administrator will be your sole point of contact. The City hires third-party design firms to perform plan reviews. Additional fees are charged for the plan reviews.

To obtain City of Chicago Building Permits, what documents will you need?

  • Property owner signature on the building permit application.

  • Drawings or plans, if necessary.

  • Details of the work to be done.

  • Approximate cost of construction

  • Area of work in square footage

  • Plat of Survey

  • Certification of responsibility notarized (not applicable to condos, properties with more than six units, or commercial properties)

  • Any other documentation you might need: copies of signed contracts between the owner and contractor, zoning approval paperwork, original electrical applications, etc.

Apartment Building

How much will my Chicago building permit cost?

According to the current Chicago Building Code, the City of Chicago allows citizens to estimate the cost of getting a building permit on their website. To determine the cost of your building permit, the City factors the price in the construction type, occupancy type, area in square feet, and project scope.

What to do next

Young Businesswoman

People unfamiliar with the local permitting process may find the process daunting now that they know the information. Our team has experience working with jurisdictions and building solid relationships. We have the resources and expertise to ensure that you receive all permits on time and within budget with your next project.

The City of Chicago (the City) Department of Buildings (DOB) has made several improvements to the permitting process. Due to these improvements, the City is now reviewing and ultimately approving permits much faster.

Aside from these updates, the DOB seeks new ways of improving and clarifying building code issues to issue building permits more efficiently. Monthly updates are available on the DOB's website.

There is a lot to learn about the process of getting a Chicago building permit. Obtaining a construction permit can be accomplished in various ways, depending on the type and size of the construction project and the applicant's credentials.

A permit is generally required for virtually all commercial projects. Building new, repairing, modifying, adding, renovating, or demolishing existing structures are included. Landmark buildings may also require permits for exteriors alterations. 


The Chicago Building Code specifies where permits are required and where they are not, which includes repairs and replacements of non-fire rated construction, finishes, minor appliances, walkways.

Obtaining City of Chicago Building permits can be obtained through the following methods:

  • Chicago Easy Permit (EP) process

  • A Self-Certification (SC) process

  • Developer Services (DS)

  • Direct Developer Services (DDS)

  • Green Permit Process (GP)

  • Standard Plans Review (SPR)


Permit applications must be submitted to the Chicago Building Department. In addition, all permits excluding the Easy Permit Process require the following additional documentation:

  • Application for building permits and associated forms

  • The drawings must be stamped and signed by an architect or structural engineer licensed in Illinois.

  • Licensed contractors - those who have filed current licenses with the City

  • It is required that all zoning information be indicated on the set of Drawings with what is existing and proposed

The Easy Permit (EP) process:

It is used for minor, non-structural repairs or replacements of equipment with commercial projects, as long as the building owner can obtain a permit without architectural plans.


The Department of Buildings has streamlined the building permit process for projects that do not require plumbing, ventilation, refrigeration, or environmental reviews by implementing the Chicago Easy Permit option.

The City of Chicago's website provides a link to download the application. A completed application must be submitted to the City. The Easy Permit covers only elements expected to be repaired or replaced, such as electrical, tuckpointing, fences, furnaces, water heaters, wood-frame garages, and windows and doors. 

A licensed permit expediter can submit easy permit applications. Details on eligibility requirements and Easy Permit submission requirements. As soon as the required documentation is submitted, the Easy Permit is usually obtained within a few days.

The applicant's responsibility is to fill out the application completely, including all contact information so that the City can contact them for further information.


The Self-Certification (SC) process:

Select commercial projects can benefit from this process. New construction commercial projects are generally eligible when they repeat previous prototypes not older than two years. Taking advantage of the past work indicates the original prototype construction was approved and granted a permit. 

There may be selected cosmetic changes in the prototype repeated from the original design. A repeat prototype cannot be eligible for a subsidized loan. It must be a one-story project, under 25,000 square feet in floor area, classified as a business, mercantile, or small assembly occupancy.

The same restrictions do not apply to alterations to existing buildings as they do to new commercial buildings. Changes to schools, businesses, mercantile, and small assemblies are allowed, as long as no additions are made to the building. Businesses, merchants, and small assemblies can also be switched now and then. A list of the characteristics of projects eligible for new construction and alterations is available.

To apply for a Self-Certification Permit, a team must have at least one Illinois-licensed Architect of Record (AOR) and should also be registered with the City of Chicago's Self-Certification Permit Program. As the AOR is responsible for ensuring code compliance, city plan reviews are unnecessary. A second structural consultant must also be hired if structural work is done in new or existing structures. Before a permit can be issued, a second structural consultant must be an authorized City reviewer.


The Developer Services (DS) process:

A large or complex project may benefit from the DS program because the permit process is simplified. An example would be a high-rise or commercial building larger than 150,000 square feet. DS projects typically involve several City agencies and departments, so an administrator is included to help the team along the way. 

DS is like a concierge service as an extension of the Department of Buildings (DOB). Consultant examiner fees are charged in addition to regular permitting fees to provide this level of attention.   

Approximately 75% of the design is completed before a pre-submission meeting with the DOB. A preliminary meeting with the DOB Project Administrator is arranged at City Hall to review the project scope, generate a permitting timeline, and discuss zoning issues. From there, the Developer Services Project Administrator will detail what and when items will be issued for permits.

A structural engineer or architect licensed in Illinois must stamp permit drawings. According to the project's scope, licensed professional engineers will be required.

The Direct Developer Services (DDS) process:

This is similar to the Developer Services program. The City of Chicago has implemented a Peer Review Process for large/complex projects eligible for the Developer Services Review Process. A goal of the program is to reduce the amount of time and effort required by DOB personnel to streamline the permit process.

The project Owner retains and pays for a certified DOB (Developer Services Consultant) to conduct the peer review for compliance with the Chicago Building Code. This program does not involve the DOB deciding who to hire or selecting review consultants. It is necessary to complete the review before submitting formal drawings to the Department of Buildings.


Developer Services Consultants will review permit drawings and resolve any issues raised during the review process in close collaboration with the Owner, Architect, Engineer, and design team members.  Consultant Services will document any potential issues raised during the review process. When the Developer Services Consultant submits the initial submission of the project for review, the DOB will receive the final Code Compliance Report.


An introduction of the project and formal approval to proceed will have to happen with the Building Department Commissioner before electing this process. Through the Buildings E-Permits website, the applicant will generate a permit number for their application. 

The owner retains and pays a Developer Services Consultant certified by the Department of Buildings to conduct the code compliance review. The DOB does not hire review consultants or select reviewers as part of this program. Following the code compliance review, the Developer Services Consultant works with the architect, engineer, and design team to resolve any issues identified.

The peer reviewer must document all issues and responses in the Final Peer Review Report. At the time of the initial submittal to the City, the Final Code Compliance Report must be submitted to the DOB along with the final permit drawings, permit application(s), and other required documents. The project scope may require submittal to the Office of Underground Coordination (OUC) if it involves deep foundations, earth retention, or excavation deeper than twelve (12) feet below grade. A preliminary meeting should be scheduled when the permit application number has been generated. 


The applicant may also elect to submit their drawings for review by the Zoning Department concurrently with the review by the Developer Services Consultant and possible submission to the OUC (if applicable). After the Developer Services Consultant confirms the drawings meet Chicago Building Code requirements, the Consultant uploads the final stamped permit drawings into the ProjectDox system. 


An architect or expeditor will then upload the permit application, any required permit documents, and the Developer Services Consultant's Final Peer Review Report into the City's ProjectDox system. Following uploading of all drawings & documents, the applicant will submit the project for DOB review. 

After all issues with the drawings/documents are resolved, the project will be assigned to the Developer Services Project Administrator for a final review to make sure all reviews have been complete, all necessary documents have been provided, calculate the final permit fees, and issue the permit.


Once the permit has been issued, the applicant will be notified and will be able to download the approved permit drawings.  The remaining permit fees must be paid (either in person or online) to receive the building permit certificate.


The Green Permit (GP) process:

Green Permits follow a similar process to Standard Plans. Those projects that qualify for Green Permits have an expedited permit process with a dedicated Green Permit Project Administrator. By qualifying under this process, green projects (geothermal heating and cooling systems, green roofs, solar thermal panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and wind turbines) provide healthier environments, reduce operating costs, and conserve energy will be given a reduction in permit fees. Green Permits and Green technologies can only be discussed by appointment and preliminary meeting. 

Commercial projects must have a LEED certification to be eligible for the GP process. The project must also meet the City's green menu requirements in addition to LEED certification. In four to six weeks, the Developer Services Administrator reviews the LEED and green menu strategy with the team. The permit application follows once the LEED and green menu strategy is approved.

Drawings for permit applications must be stamped by a licensed architect or structural engineer in the state of Illinois. LEED administrators or consultants are also required. The scope of the project will determine whether licensed professional engineers are needed.


The Standard Plan Review (SPR) process:


Projects that don't fall under any of the categories above are considered Standard Plan Reviews. Most commercial projects undergo this type of review. Permit facilitators, particularly Architects and Expediters, are responsible for determining the necessary drawings, calculations, applications, and forms.

The Department of Buildings implemented new and upgraded payment procedures for Standard Plan Review Permits. Building Permit applicants now pay a $375 payment deposit. The permit process begins immediately after drawings are submitted, and after a building permit is issued, the remaining fee is collected.

The applicant begins by requesting a permit online. A permit application can typically be submitted immediately. Once the Department of Buildings receives the deposit fee, the permit applicant will be instructed to submit necessary drawings, calculations, forms, etc., to a specific folder on the City's E-Plan system. The standard Plan Review process is completely electronic using the City's E-Plan system; therefore, uploaded items must meet specific compatibility requirements. 

The City has published a user guide for E-Plan. A licensed Architect or Structural Engineer in Illinois is required to stamp permit drawings prior to submittal. According to the project scope, professional engineers may or may not be required. When applying for the permit, the contractor must also be listed. There may not yet be a choice of contractors in design-bid-build projects. 

Following approval from Zoning, the project is reviewed by several disciplines for a thorough review.


Below is a quick overview of essential things that will hopefully simplify the permit process:

  • Ensure that drawings contain all the information that is required by code

  • Apply for a building permit online to get a permit number

  • Make sure that all files uploaded to the City of Chicago's website are named correctly

  • Upload all files to be reviewed

Additionally, the Chicago Department of Buildings has implemented a new archiving system for all permits. The DOB will archive documents related to permitted projects to free up space on their servers. Before July 1, 2014, all permits granted before that date will be archived, and going forward, all permits granted more than two years previously will be archived quarterly.

The building permit is deemed expired if construction has not begun within six months of the permit's issue date or if there is a period of inactivity of over 12 months after construction has begun. Multiple approvals were required in the past for a building permit reinstatement. As of right now, any permit reinstatement must be approved by a City Hall Building Department supervisor.


Building Permit Chicago Terms

Simple building and home improvements, including installations, repairs, and replacements (Chicago Easy Permit). The permit is generally granted within a few days of the application.

The Standard Plan Review (SPR) is designed for small and mid-sized new construction or renovation projects using E-Plans. Projects are usually reviewed within a week after being submitted for review.

Certain permit services are available for owner-occupants of single-family houses, such as assistance with plan preparation. The City allows homeowners-occupants to make their plans to make things easier.

The Zoning Administrator must approve projects requiring zoning approval.

A licensed architect or structural engineer is required to prepare construction drawings.

An Easy Permit requires a signed contract with a licensed contractor or trade professional to conduct the work. This is for the safety and protection of homeowners and businesses.

A licensed professional may be required to apply for a permit if the job is complex enough. Permits are still the responsibility of the homeowner.

The types of permit review processes are detailed in the section "Types of permit review processes."

Now that you understand permit terms, we will list the most common projects to see if you need a permit, a licensed contractor, or other requirements.

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