Certificates of Occupancy

A Certificate of Occupancy is issued by the Department of Buildings to certify that residential buildings with 4 or more units and larger non-residential buildings conform to the requirements of the Chicago Building Code.

When is a Certificate of Occupancy Required?

A Certificate of Occupancy is REQUIRED for permitted work that meets one or more of the following:

  • Construction or substantial rehabilitation of 4 or more dwelling units
  • Construction or substantial rehabilitation of more than 10,000 square feet for non-residential occupancy
  • Change of occupancy classification (e.g. converting a storefront to an apartment or converting a warehouse to an office building)
  • Construction or substantial rehabilitation of any space, regardless of floor area, used for assembly or institutional occupancy
    • Assembly occupancies includes any room or space where more than 100 people gather for civic, political, educational, religious, social, recreational or other similar activities and all pre-K through 16 schools.
    • Institutional occupancies include hospitals, nursing homes, halfway houses, and jails.
    • Daycare centers, other than home-based daycare centers, are either assembly or institutional occupancies.

It is illegal to occupy or permit others to occupy a building or portion of a building which requires a certificate of occupancy before obtaining the certificate of occupancy or a partial/temporary certificate of occupancy.

A certificate of occupancy may be requested for all other projects, including single-family homes, but the request must be made online and approved before any construction work begins.

What Steps Are Required to Obtain a Certificate of Occupancy?

After the building permit issues and when work is ready to begin:

  1. The applicant must schedule, be present for, and pass all required inspections as the work progresses. Inspections must be requested online.
  2. The applicant must use the online Certificate of Occupancy Application to submit technical and contact information when work is nearing completition.
  3. The applicant will be contacted by the Department to schedule certificate-of-occupancy-related inspections. The Department of Buildings will also provide contact information to schedule required inspections with the Chicago Fire Department, Fire Prevention Bureau, if required.
  4. The owner must receive a certificate of occupancy before occupying the building or allowing others to occupy the building.

What Inspections Are Required for a Certificate of Occupancy?

Underground Inspections:  

  • Plumbing underground
  • Rebar, structural steel prior to concrete pours (initial and ongoing)

Rough inspections:

  • Carpentry (new construction)
  • Electrical
  • Iron
  • Plumbing
  • Ventilation

Final inspections:

  • Boilers
  • Carpentry (new construction)
  • Electrical
  • Iron
  • Plumbing
  • Refrigeration
  • Ventilation

Certificate of occupancy inspection(s).

Are There Additional Requirements for Inspections?

Yes, for inspections, the applicant or the applicant's agent must:

  • Be present at the time of the scheduled certificate of occupancy inspection.
  • Make sure a representative for any technical trade is present at the inspection, if requested by the Department.
  • Make available at the inspection the full set of stamped permit plans and any technical document approved by the Department.
  • Make sure that all rooms and spaces required to be inspected can be accessed.
  • Provide all equipment required by the Department to undertake the inspection, including but not limited to, ladders, safety equipment, and lighting.    

A reinspection fee, as provided in section 13-20-051 of the Building Code, will be charged whenever any scheduled inspection cannot take place because of the absence of, or other action or inaction by, the building’s owner or permit holder. The reinspection fee must be paid to the City's Department of Finance before a certificate of occupancy can be issued.

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