May 9, 2014

Department of Buildings Reminds Residents of Porch Safety

Inspect Porches for Needed Repairs After Historic Winter

Mimi Simon | Department of Buildings | 312.743.7204

For Immediate Release

After a historic winter in Chicago, the Department of Buildings is reminding residents to take time this spring to inspect porches, decks, balconies and stairs for needed repairs and to always use porches safely during the warm summer months.

"With the extreme winter weather we’ve just experienced, property owners need to be mindful of building maintenance, including checking porches for any wear and tear and immediately addressing unsafe conditions,” said Buildings Commissioner Felicia Davis. “Porch safety doesn’t end with an inspection, and we remind residents to properly use porches during the summer and limit the number of people on these structures.”

Residents should check for important signs of deterioration, including:

  • Split or rotting wood, or evidence of water damage
  • Loose, missing or rusting hardware or bolts
  • Loose or missing anchors where the porch attaches to a building
  • Missing, damaged or loose support beams and planking
  • Excessive movement of the structure when walked on
  • Wobbly handrails or guardrails 

If problems are identified, stop using the porch, balcony, deck or stairs immediately. Renters should report the concerns to the building owner or property manager. If the problem is not quickly addressed, renters should call 311 and request an inspection. Owners are required by law to make necessary repairs and maintain their property in a safe condition.

The Department of Buildings inspects approximately 5,000 porches each year as part of annual inspections of buildings. Due to greater awareness and stricter code requirements, the number of 311 complaints about potentially dangerous porches has been reduced over the years.  

In 2013, the Department of Buildings received 1,012 porch complaints and 1,282 complaints in 2012.  To date in 2014, the Department has responded to 230 complaints.

While the number of complaints has declined, the number of permits issued to repair, replace or build new porches continues to remain above 2,000 each year, an indication that porches are being maintained. In 2012 and 2013, the Department issued 2,028 permits and 2,494 permits respectively. So far this year, 459 permits have been issued.

For more information related to porches, please visit the Department of Buildings website at: http://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/bldgs/supp_info/porch-safety.html.

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