Permits issued by the Department of Buildings help to ensure construction work complies with the minimum standards of safety established by the Chicago Construction Codes in order to protect public health, safety, and welfare. A permit is required before beginning most construction, demolition, and repair work. In order to provide more responsive service, the Department of Buildings offers permitting processes tailored for a wide variety of projects, from home repairs to new skyscrapers.
For homeowners and small business owners, our Guide to Permits offers a concise overview of the permit processes available for small and mid-sized projects.
Calculate the Cost of a Building Permit
The online calculator estimates the cost of a building permit based on provisions of the Chicago Building Code. The factors necessary to use this calculator are construction type, occupancy type, area in square feet, and project scope.
Demolition (Wrecking) Permits
A demolition (wrecking) permit is required before beginning work to demolish an entire building or structure, to demolish substantially all of the above-grade portion of a building or structure, or to alter an existing building and permanently reduce its building area.
Developer Services Permit Program
The Developer Services Permit Program is designed to meet the specialized needs of moderate to complex construction projects.
Easy Permit Program
The Easy Permit Program was replaced with the new Express Permit Program in early November 2023.
Elevator and Conveyance Device Permits
Information on obtaining a permit to install or repair an elevator, escalator, or other type of conveyance device.
Express Permit Program
The Express Permit Program provides a fully web-enabled platform for customers to apply, check status, pay fees, and view inspection status for building permits for most types of building repair work, some small improvement projects, and administrative changes to issued building permits.
Maximum Capacity Signs
Maximum capacity signs issued by the Department of Buildings are required for every theater and every other room or space where more than 100 people gather for civic, political, educational, religious, social, recreational, or other similar activity.
Permit Fee Waivers for Seniors
Long-term senior (65+) homeowners who meet income-eligibility criteria are entitled to have building permit fees waived for repairs, alterations, and additions to 1-3 unit residential buildings in which they reside.
Permits for Solar and Other Green Technologies
The City of Chicago encourages building design, construction and renovation projects that provide healthier environments, reduce operating costs and conserve energy.
Self-Certification Permit Program
The Self-Certification Permit Program simplifies the building permit process for eligible residential, business, mercantile, and assembly projects where the architect of record takes full responsibility for code compliance.
A sewer permit is required for the construction, repair, adjustment, rodding or cleaning of any subsurface structure designed to collect or transport storm and/or sanitary waste water, either in private property or in the public way.
A sign permit is generally required to place a sign on a parcel of land, a building, a structure or a place of business in the City of Chicago.
Standard Plan Review Permit Program
The Standard Plan Review Permit Program is the main permitting process for building permit applications which require architectural plans.
Tent, Stage and Temporary Structure Permits
Permits are required for most tents, stages, and similar structures. A streamlined permitting process is available for temporary structures which will be in place for 180 days or less.
Water Service Permits
Permits related to the connection, disconnection (cut and seal), and alteration/repair of water services
When is a Building Permit NOT Required?
For a limited range of repairs and minor alterations to existing buildings, a building permit is not required by the City of Chicago.