File a Buildings FOIA Request
Did you know that many building department records are available online immediately?
Before filing a FOIA request with the Department of Buildings, please check whether the information you want is already available through one of the building department’s online data sites. The Building Department Records site allows you to view records related to building permits, inspections, violations and enforcement actions for a specific address. The Building Permit Application Status site lets you check the status of a pending building permit application. The Vacant Building Registration site lets you search for information about vacant buildings registered with or inspected by the Department. The Buildings section of the City’s data portal provides bulk data about all building permits and building violations since 2006. Information about city employees, maintained by the Department of Human Resources, is also available on the data portal.
If you submit a FOIA request for records that are available to the public online, you will be provided with links to these sites.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a state law that provides citizens with access to public records. Each City department is a separate agency responsible for maintaining its own records, so requests should be submitted to the department that maintains the records you want.
All FOIA requests submitted to City of Chicago departments must include the following information:
- The name, mailing address and contact information of the requester;
- A description of the records that are being requested.
Please note that all FOIA requests are posted online. FOIA requests are public information, and when you submit a FOIA request, your name and information about the request will be made available on the City's website.
Please be specific about the information you are seeking, and indicate the exact locations and dates. Please indicate in your request how you would like the information sent to you (via email, mail, or available to pick up at our office).
The first 50 pages of photocopies are free of charge*, with each additional page $.15.
How do I file a Freedom of information Act (FOIA) request with the City of Chicago Department of Buildings?
For Department of Buildings FOIA requests, write to:
Mail: ATTN: Dept. of Buildings FOIA Officer
121 N. Lasalle, City Hall Room 900
Chicago, IL 60602
Can I download the FOIA Request form via the Department of Buildings website?
Yes, click here to download the Buildings Freedom of Information Form. The form is in Adobe Acrobat format.
Can someone find out building violations on a property by filling out a FOIA request?
Yes. One can also look up building violations online by address.
What about ownership information?
Ownership information can be obtained through the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, 118 N. Clark Street, Room 120, Chicago, IL 60602, Phone: (312) 603-5050.
Types of Records Maintained by the Department of Buildings
The Department of Buildings enforces the Chicago Building Code to protect the health, safety and welfare of Chicago's residents and visitors. The Department issues all construction and demolition permits in the City of Chicago. The Department also cites potentially hazardous buildings, encourages repair through enforcement action, and coordinates demolition when necessary. The Department of Buildings is also responsible for examining and licensing select building trades.
The Department of Buildings maintains the following categories of records:
- Building permit records
- Building inspection records for conservation inspections, heat inspections and technical inspections, including boiler, electrical, elevator, iron, new construction, plumbing/water, refrigeration and ventilation
- Trade licensing records for stationary engineer, crane operator, electrician, elevator, apprentice plumber, journeyman plumber, plumbing contractor and mason contractor
- Fast track and conventional demolition files
- Building registration records
- Exterior wall ordinance records and required filings
- Departmental personnel records
- Departmental budget records
The City of Chicago Department of Buildings (DOB) enforces the provisions of the Municipal Code relating to all demolition, electrical systems, elevator operation, heating/ventilation systems, plumbing and zoning compliance. The Department reviews permit applications and architectural drawings for compliance with the Chicago Building Code and is responsible for the issuance of all new construction, renovation, repair and associated permits. DOB examines applicants for trade licensing and issues certificates of registration for crane operators, supervising electricians, electrical contractors, supervising elevator mechanics, elevator contractors, general contractors, masons, plumbers, stationery engineer and steam boiler erectors.
The Building Board of Appeals is an independent review board, supported by DOB, with the responsibility of hearing and deciding appeals of decisions made by the Commissioner of Buildings on matters provided for in the municipal code.
The Committee on Standards and Tests acts in a advisory capacity to the Department on technical issues.