COVID-related Frequently Asked Questions

October 30, 2020

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

The Department of Buildings advises the following guidelines workers should follow on active construction sites.  

  • Follow CDPH guidelines on face coverings.
  • Social Distancing, make every effort possible to maintain 6-foot distance from other individuals.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm (no hands).
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Regularly clean high-touch surfaces.
  • Avoid shaking hands.
  • Stay home if you have symptoms and follow CDPH guidance.

 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.  Permit-related building inspections must be requested online.  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 guidelines for businesses seeking to obtain a tent permit?

For businesses seeking to use tents for dining or other purposes this fall and winter, see the Department’s tent permitting guidelines. Operational guidelines for outdoor dining are available from the Department of Buisiness Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). 

Please note that the emergency waiver of permit requirements for temporary healthcare facilities has expired. All tents and temporary structures greater than 400 square feet require a permit.

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.

What are the remote processes for permits and inspections while the 9th floor at City Hall (permits and Commissioner's office) and 2045 W. Washington (inspection office) are 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.

Commissioner's Office

Permitting

Inspections and Enforcement

  • To report an unsafe condition or work being done without permits call 3-1-1 or submit an online request.
  • You may request a permit-related building inspection online here.
  • A new procedure to avoid an administrative hearing on building code violations by submitting evidence via email is available here.
  • If you need additional inspection information, please contact Marlene Hopkins, Managing Deputy Commissioner at marlene.hopkins@cityofchicago.org or Carl Byrd, Deputy Commissioner at carl.byrd@cityofchicago.org.

Other Topics

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. Please follow the interim procedure for online submission of easy permits to request a permit extension.

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 essential services and were allowed to 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.

Is there guidance for businesses and other non-residential buildings that are reopening?

Yes, please visit the City of Chicago Reopening Business Portal for industry-specific guidelines on reopening.

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

For current information on trade license examinations, including mandatory public health precautions, please contact Continental Testing Services

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