Fall 2023 News and Updates
October 10, 2023
All of us at the Department of Buildings are committed to enhancing safety and quality of life for Chicago’s residents and visitors. We do so every day of the year through permitting, inspections, trade licensing, and enforcement of the Chicago Construction Codes in partnership with industry stakeholders.
As summer comes to an end, we are pleased to announce enhancements to our permit, trade license, and inspection programs that will be rolling out this fall. We are also providing notice of code changes and automatic permit fee increases that will take effect over the next few months.
In recognition of the 152nd anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, this week is recognized as Fire Prevention Week throughout the United States. Please take a moment to evaluate your preparedness for fire and other disasters in the places where you live, work, and play. Take a few minutes to test or replace the fire safety devices in your home and review your emergency plans with family and coworkers.
And as outdoor temperatures drop, we encourage every building owner to undertake preventative maintenance now to protect the safety and comfort of occupants, reduce energy bills, and prevent costly emergency repair work.
Finally, for design professionals, please mark your calendar for our next Self-Certification Professional training class, coming in January 2024.
Get Ready for Express Permits!
The Department of Buildings is excited to announce the November 2023 launch of our new Express Permit Program, which will replace the existing paper-based Easy Permit Process, Solar Express program, and Short Form Permit Process for plumbing and mechanical work. The Express Permit Program will provide a fully web-based customer experience for customers to apply, check status, pay fees, and check inspection status.
At the Department of Buildings, we know that the quicker and more user-friendly we make the permitting and inspection process, the more people will obtain permits.
Enhanced Building Permit Application Status Check Now Online
Last week, we deployed significant enhancements to the look, feel, and functionality of the web site that allows permit applicants and members of the public to check the status of pending building permit applications and recently issued building permits.
These enhancements include:
- A cleaner, mobile-friendly layout that is consistent with design standards for new City of Chicago websites
- Built in auto-translation to improve language access
- Information that is refreshed hourly (the old site only refreshed once a day)
- Tables that are sortable, printable, and exportable
- Clearer information about all types of review activities (both subject matter reviews and address-based holds)
- Expanded information about every listed permit applicant, including license status information for City-licensed contractors
If you have thoughts about the new site, please let us know at DOBCommissioner@cityofchicago.org.
Expanded Requirements for Electric Vehicle Readiness in effect November 1, 2023
At their September 2023 meeting the City Council adopted amendments to the electric vehicle readiness requirements of the Chicago Zoning Ordinance to align these requirements with statewide requirements that were recently signed into law as Public Act 103-53. The expanded Chicago requirements for residential buildings will apply to projects where the first building permit application is started on or after November 1, 2023.
For the purpose of determining applicable code requirements, a building permit application that requires submission of architectural/engineering plans is considered “started” when the $300 building permit fee deposit is paid. Permit applicants must upload drawings for review and respond to all corrections within 120 days or the permit application is considered withdrawn and void by law.
Building Permit Fee Increases Effective January 1, 2024
Pursuant to an ordinance adopted in 2021, fees for plan-based building permits are linked to changes in the Consumer Price Index and are revised annually. The fee schedule for building permits issued in 2024 is now available. The online building permit fee calculator will be updated to reflect the 2024 fee schedule in mid-December.
Prepare Your Building for Cold Weather
Now that it’s October, we all know Chicago weather is unpredictable and fall temperatures can drop sharply. To keep building occupants safe and warm, we encourage residents and building owners to undertake preventative maintenance throughout the year. In fall, consider the following maintenance activities:
- Smoke Detectors. Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Replace batteries as needed. If a smoke alarm is more than 10 years old, you should replace the entire device. For larger buildings, inspect and test fire alarm, sprinkler, and standpipe systems regularly. Learn more about Chicago's requirements for residential smoke alarms and residential carbon monoxide alarms.
- Heating and Cooling Equipment. Inspect heating and cooling equipment to ensure it is in good working order. Winterize any air conditioning equipment that will be unused for several months. Clean or replace air filters. Inspect and clean chimneys and fireplaces. Consider installing a programmable thermostat to improve comfort and save on energy bills. Learn more about energy saving tips for fall and winter.
- Pipes and Plumbing. Disconnect exterior hoses and drain exterior pipes. Check insulation on exterior and basement pipes. Consider installing insulation on uninsulated hot and cold water pipes. Make sure you know where shut-off valves are located if you do have a leak. Learn how to insulate water pipes in your home.
- Roofs and Gutters. Clear roofs and gutters of leaves, branches, and other debris. Blocked gutters can cause ice buildup to damage your roof during the winter.
- Clothes Dryer Vents. Lint buildup in clothes dryer vents can be a major fire hazard. Check your dryer manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean the vent.
- Stock Up. Make sure you are prepared for winter storms with a good supply of snow shovels, salt, batteries, flashlights, etc.
- Plan for the Worst. Every family and workplace should develop and practice an emergency plan. If yours needs updating, review these tips from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC).
As of September 15, Chicago’s Heat Ordinance is in effect. The Heat Ordinance applies to both homes and workspaces. The Heat Ordinance does not prevent a building from disengaging heating equipment or operating cooling equipment (air conditioning) during the heat season as long as required minimum indoor temperatures are maintained.
Self-Certification Professional Training – Save the Date
Our bi-annual 3-day Self-Certification Professional training program will be held Tuesday, January 30 through Thursday, February 1, 2024. Sign-up will open in November 2023. Current Self-Certification Professionals (SCPs) will receive an individual notification when sign-up opens. SCP registrations expiring December 31, 2023, will be extended through January 2024 for SCPs who sign up for the training class before their expiration date.