E-Plan: Chicago's Online Building Permit System

The City of Chicago is committed to providing a modern and efficient process for receiving, reviewing and issuing building permits based on architectural plans. The City’s online plan-based permitting system, known as E-Plan, is available 24/7 whenever an internet connection is available.

E-Plan allows licensed architects, engineers and permit expediters to create permit applications, submit architectural plans and related documents to the city for review, receive comments from city plan examiners, check permit status, pay permit fees, and download approved plans and building permit certificates from their home or office using any internet-connected device. E-Plan can also e-mail permit applicants (clients) with updates throughout the permit process if their e-mail addresses are provided.

E-Plan consists of two related systems: the Dynamic Portal where applicants begin and end the permit process, and ProjectDox, the City’s online plan review system. Separate accounts and passwords are required for each system. A user must provide the same e-mail address for both accounts.

In-person E-Plan training classes are temporarily suspended. Please subscribe to the Department of Buildings email alerts to be notified of upcoming training opportunities.

How E-Plan Works 

Step 1: Create a Permit Application Using the Dynamic Portal

For any building permit application type which requires architectural plans, the permit application must be created by a licensed architect, structural engineer, or permit expediter through the Dynamic Portal. The Dynamic Portal requires basic information about the scope of work to be permitted. After basic information about the scope of work and permit applicant is provided, the user may complete the permit application. An add to cart button will appear, allowing the user to pay a $300 building permit deposit and zoning review fee (which is based on square footage of new work and flat for renovation work).

Step 2: Upload Drawings to ProjectDox

Within 1-2 business days of paying the zoning fee and building permit deposit, the user will receive an e-mail invitation to upload drawings and related documents to ProjectDox. (First time users will also receive an invitation to create a new account.) Drawings and documents must be named and uploaded into the appropriate folders as detailed in the E-Plan User Guide. Inappropriate file names or uploading documents to the wrong folder will delay review of the application. Once the user has uploaded all required documents, the user must complete the upload task in ProjectDox to initiate review by the city.

Step 3: Prescreen Review in ProjectDox

After the initial upload, all permit applications receive an initial administrative review by a project manager to ensure that submittal requirements are met. If documents are missing or incomplete, the user will be notified by e-mail of required corrections.

Step 4: Substantive Reviews and Corrections in ProjectDox

After the project manager verifies that submittal requirements are met, the application will be routed for simultaneous review by plan examiners in the Department of Buildings specializing in different technical areas, such as architectural, structural, electrical, plumbing, and ventilation. The project will also be routed for zoning review, and review by other city departments, if required. The user will be notified of corrections as they are entered, and will be provided an opportunity to upload corrected plans once all reviews are complete. A project manager will determine if an additional round of reviews is necessary, or if the architect will be allowed to submit certified plan corrections to address reviewer comments.

Step 5: Final Review in ProjectDox

Once substantive reviews are complete, the project manager will conduct a final administrative review to ensure that the permit application uploaded in ProjectDox contains all required signatures and correctly reflects the scope of work, the permit applicant does not owe any unresolved debt to the city, and necessary approvals have been obtained from zoning and other city departments. The project manager will also calculate the final building permit fee and mark the plans as approved. The user will be notified by e-mail that the permit has been issued.

Step 6: Permit Fee Payment through Dynamic Portal or In Person

Before the user can obtain a building permit certificate or download the approved drawings for printing, the balance of the building permit fee must be paid. Online payments may be made through the Dynamic Portal, or the permit applicant (client) or other person can pay in Room 906 at City Hall by providing the 9-digit permit application number.

Step 7: Download Building Permit Certificate from Dynamic Portal

If payment is made in person at City Hall, a paper building permit certificate will be provided at the time of payment. After making an online payment, an electronic building permit certificate will be available for Download from the Dynamic Portal. A paper copy of the building permit certificate must be posted at the job site before work begins.

Step 8: Download Approved Drawings from ProjectDox

After payment is received, the user may download approved permit drawings from the “Released Drawings and Documents” folder in ProjectDox. A paper copy of the approved permit drawings must be present at the job site when work is occurring and during inspections. 

Apply for a Building Permit Online

Begin an online building permit application using the Dynamic Portal.

Upload Plans for a Building Permit Application

After creating a building permit application using the Dynamic Portal, licensed design professionals use ProjectDox to submit plans and other documents to the Department of Buildings for review.