Cautiously Reopening Frequently Asked Questions

June 12, 2020

What are the guidelines for businesses seeking to obtain a tent permit?

The Department of Buildings is committed to enhancing safety and quality of life for residents and visitors of the City of Chicago through permitting, inspections, trade licensing, and enforcement of the Chicago Construction Codes. For businesses seeking to use tents for outdoor dining this summer, see the Department’s tent guidelines.

Do I need a permit to repair my business after an unexpected event?

For businesses responding to damage from an unexpected event, please see our Quick Guidance on Business Repairs.

Is there a list of guidelines that construction sites should be following to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

The Department of Buildings has created a one-page flyer outlining safety guidelines that all workers should follow on active construction sites. Building inspectors are regularly distributing these flyers when they arrive for inspection.

Are inspections still occurring and are permits still required?

Yes.  Building inspectors continue to conduct permit and periodic inspections as well as respond to 311 referrals from residents.  Building permits are still required and failure to obtain the appropriate permits will result in a stop work order. The public can check to see if a certain property has a permit here

What are the remote processes for permits and inspections while the 9th floor at City Hall is closed to the public?

We continue to process permits and make ourselves available to answer questions and assist you in any way possible. The following protocol is available so you can manage your Department of Buildings needs via a call, email or online.

 Where can I make an in-person payment for my building permit?

The 9th floor of City Hall remains closed to the public. However, the payment center at City Hall, Room 107, is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and cashiers remain available at 400 West Superior, where the hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.  Please remember to bring your permit number so the cashier knows where to apply your payment. Many types of permits can be paid for and printed online, and we encourage use of the online process where available.

If you are visiting either location, please remember to practice social distancing as an important first step in preventing the spread of a disease like COVID-19.

Have rules for construction hours changed?

No. To assist with social distancing, some contractors are implementing staggered shifts on job sites. However, provisions of the noise ordinance regarding the loading of construction materials (7:00 am to 10:00 pm) and the use of power equipment/tools (8:00 am to 8:00 pm) remain in effect. While people are working from home, contractors should be mindful and respectful of nearby residents, keeping noise and dust down, including no throwing debris out of windows, etc. Now, more than ever, it’s important to be a good neighbor.

What if I want to delay my construction project? How long is my permit valid?

A permit must be paid for within 120 days of the notification that it is ready for payment, and the permit becomes active once payment is received.

You then have six months from the date of payment to "begin" work. (Beginning work is making any alteration to a wall, floor, ceiling, or structural element of the building.) If you need to extend this start date by six months, you can pay a fee equal to 25% of the original permit fee.  

If work has already begun and is put on hold for more than 365 days, the permit must be reinstated (for a fee equal to 25% of the original permit fee) before work can resume.

Please note: different deadlines may apply to projects with special zoning approvals, such as planned developments (PDs), administrative adjustments, or decisions from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

What is the guidance for maintenance and repair in multifamily residential buildings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Building management and maintenance are also essential services and may continue under the 'Stay at Home' Executive Order. Per the Chicago Department of Public Health, landlords and building management should take the steps outlined on the www.chicago.gov/coronavirus site to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 in Chicago.

Certain trade licensing exams have been postponed. What are the new test dates?

Please note the following guidance on trade licensing exams.

Upcoming Written Examination Dates:

July 8th - Crane Operators (Class I and Class II)
July 22nd - Stationary Engineers
Sept 9th - Crane Operators (Class I and Class II) 
Oct 7th - Brick Masons 
Oct 7th - Concrete Masons
Oct 7th - Plumbers
Oct 21st - Stationary Engineers
Nov 4th - Supervising Electricians

Also note that written examination room or location assignments may change due to social distancing requirements that may be in effect at the time.

Practical Examinations:

Practical examinations for Crane Operators will be available after the July 8th written examination if not sooner. 

The Aug 8th practical examination for Plumbers may need to be rescheduled for a later date in August in order to allow for adding a written examination date in early August.

For more information on testing, including the potential for additional testing dates, please visit Continental Testing Services

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