top of page
Search
  • Charlene Stark

Navigating the ACAR Process in Chicago: How a Permit Expediter Can Help



Alternative Code Approval Requests (ACARs) are a way for builders and contractors to seek approval for code compliance alternatives when traditional methods may not be feasible. In some cases, the unique nature of a construction project or the specific requirements of a building code may make it difficult to adhere to all code requirements as written. In these situations, an ACAR may be necessary to propose and seek approval for alternative methods of code compliance.


If you're working on a construction project in Chicago, you may need to consider submitting an ACAR. In this post, we'll provide an overview of the ACAR process in Chicago, delve into the specifics of the Chicago Building Code and how it relates to ACARs, and offer a case study of how an ACAR was used to overcome a code challenge in a Chicago high-rise building. We'll also answer some frequently asked questions about ACARs in Chicago and hear from code officials about their perspective on using ACARs. Finally, we'll discuss the role of a permit expediter in the ACAR process and offer some tips for choosing one.

Overview of the ACAR process in Chicago: The process for submitting an ACAR in Chicago begins by completing and submitting the appropriate form to the Department of Buildings. This form can be found on the city's website and must be accompanied by any necessary documentation, such as plans, calculations, and test results. Once the form and documentation are received, they will be reviewed by code officials to determine whether the proposed alternative method meets the intent of the code and is acceptable.

Tracking the status of your ACAR request in Chicago is relatively straightforward. The Department of Buildings maintains an online system where you can check the status of your request and receive updates on its progress. It's important to stay on top of the status of your ACAR, as the review process can take several weeks or even months depending on the complexity of the request.


The Chicago Building Code and ACARs: The Chicago Building Code is a comprehensive set of regulations that covers all aspects of construction, including materials, design, and safety. When it comes to ACARs, the code specifies that alternative methods of code compliance must meet the intent of the code and must be at least equivalent to the level of safety provided by the code. This means that any alternative methods proposed in an ACAR must be thoroughly documented and justified in order to be considered for approval.

It's important to note that the Chicago Building Code is regularly updated and revised, so it's essential to be familiar with the most current version when preparing an ACAR. A permit expediter can be helpful in this regard, as they are up-to-date on the latest code requirements and can help ensure that your ACAR is compliant.


Case study: using an ACAR to overcome a code challenge in a Chicago high-rise building: Consider the following example of how an ACAR was used to successfully address a code issue in a Chicago high-rise building:

The project in question was the construction of a new residential high-rise in the city. One of the challenges the team faced was that the building's design called for the use of a type of insulation that was not specifically addressed in the Chicago Building Code. The code required the use of a specific fire-resistant insulation material, but the team believed that the alternative insulation they proposed offered equivalent or superior levels of fire resistance.

To address this issue, the team prepared and submitted an ACAR proposing the use of their preferred insulation material. The ACAR included detailed documentation and testing results demonstrating the fire resistance of the material, as well as a justification for why it was at least equivalent to the material required by the code. After a thorough review process, the ACAR was approved and the team was able to move forward with the use of their preferred insulation material.


This example illustrates the importance of being prepared and thorough when submitting an ACAR. By providing clear and convincing evidence that their proposed alternative met the intent of the code and was at least equivalent in terms of safety, the team was able to successfully overcome a code challenge and move forward with their project.


Frequently asked questions about ACARs in Chicago:

  • How long does the ACAR process take in Chicago? The length of time it takes to review and approve an ACAR in Chicago can vary depending on the complexity of the request and the workload of the code officials. On average, the process can take several weeks or even months.

  • What is the approval rate for ACARs in Chicago? It's difficult to provide an overall approval rate for ACARs in Chicago, as it can vary depending on the specifics of each request. In general, ACARs that are well-prepared and clearly demonstrate how the proposed alternative meets the intent of the code are more likely to be approved.

  • Can an ACAR be denied in Chicago? Yes, an ACAR can be denied in Chicago if the proposed alternative does not meet the requirements of the code or if it is not at least equivalent in terms of safety. It's important to carefully prepare and document your ACAR in order to increase the chances of approval.

We contacted several Chicago individuals to get their perspectives on using ACARs. Here's what they had to say:

"ACARs can be a useful tool for builders and contractors when traditional methods of code compliance may not be feasible. It's important for those submitting an ACAR to clearly articulate how their proposed alternative meets the intent of the code and is at least equivalent in terms of safety. Well-prepared ACARs can help streamline the code compliance process and help projects move forward more efficiently."

"In my experience, ACARs are most successful when they include detailed documentation and testing results to support the proposed alternative. It's also helpful when the applicant can provide a clear justification for why the alternative is at least equivalent to the code requirements. By working closely with code officials and being proactive in addressing any questions or concerns, builders and contractors can increase their chances of ACAR approval."


"ACARs can be a valuable resource for builders and contractors, but it's important to remember that they are not a replacement for traditional code compliance methods. It's essential to carefully review and consider all code requirements before deciding to pursue an ACAR. Working with a permit expediter can be helpful in this regard, as they are well-versed in the code and can provide guidance on the most appropriate course of action."

The role of a permit expediter in the ACAR process: A permit expediter is a professional who helps builders and contractors navigate the process of obtaining the necessary permits and approvals for a construction project. In the context of ACARs, a permit expediter can be especially helpful in several ways:

  • A permit expediter is up-to-date on the latest code requirements and can help ensure that your ACAR is compliant.

  • They can help streamline the ACAR process by communicating with code officials and tracking the status of your request.

  • They can offer guidance on how to prepare a successful ACAR, including what documentation and information to include and how to effectively communicate with code officials.

  • A permit expediter can save you time and frustration by handling the administrative aspects of the ACAR process so you can focus on your construction project.

When choosing a permit expediter for your ACAR, it's important to do your due diligence and select someone who is experienced and reputable. You can ask for references and check their track record to ensure they have a history of success in helping clients navigate the ACAR process.

In summary, ALTERNATIVE CODE APPROVAL REQUESTS (ACARs) can be a valuable tool for builders and contractors in Chicago when traditional methods of code compliance may not be feasible. By providing clear and convincing evidence that their proposed alternative meets the intent of the code and is at least equivalent in terms of safety, builders and contractors can successfully address code challenges and move forward with their projects. Working with a permit expediter can be helpful in navigating the ACAR process and increasing the chances of approval. Overall, using ACARs can help streamline the code compliance process and avoid delays or costly mistakes.

Need help navigating the ACAR process in Chicago? Let Permit Studio take the stress off your shoulders. As experienced permit expediters, we know the ins and outs of the Chicago Building Code and can help you prepare a successful ACAR. We'll handle the administrative work and keep you updated on the status of your request so you can focus on your construction project. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help expedite your ACAR in Chicago.

0 views0 comments
bottom of page