Building Permits and Requirements in Chicago and suburbs

Construction and development is subject to a variety of codes, ordinances, guidelines, permitting and inspections – all designed to establish high standards for safety, design and planning. The intent of these regulations is to enhance the safety, quality and character of the built environment.

Navigating through government websites and departments is not an easy task, neither for contractors nor for homeowners.

That’s why as local remodeling experts, 123 Remodeling compiled a comprehensive guide to building permits and requirements in the Chicagoland area: Chicago, Evanston, Bannockburn, Buffalo Grove, Deerfield, Glencoe, Glenview, Golf, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northbrook, Northfield, Park Ridge, Skokie, Wilmette, and Winnetka.

Table of Content

  1. Why Do I Need a Building Permit?
  2. Do I Need to Hire a Professional Architect or Engineer?
  3. Do I need to hire a general contractor?
  4. Permit Terms
  5. Common Projects That Require Permit
  6. When a Building Permit is Not Required
  7. What Should I Do Before Applying for a Permit?
  8. Types of Permit Review Processes
  9. What Should I Bring to the Permit Office?
  10. Resources and Links for Acquiring Permits in Chicago and Suburbs

Why do I need a building permit?

The building permit process is designed to ensure that buildings comply with the minimum safety standards established by the Building Code for the protection of building occupants. With a building permit, you or your contractors will receive advice from reviewers and inspectors to ensure that these standards are met in your renovation project.

A permit is generally required before new construction, repairs, additions, alterations or demolition projects begin. Let’s review the most common terms used by Departments of Building, general contractors and architects.

Do I need to hire a professional architect or engineer?

You do not need to hire an architect or engineer for simple home improvement projects and decorative work. If your project is for a single-family home renovation, and you are the owner-occupant, in many instances you can prepare your own drawings through the Homeowner Assistance Program.

For all other permit applications that require plans or drawings, they must be prepared by an Illinois-licensed architect or structural engineer. Some project require a licensed professional to complete the work on even to apply for a permit. In all cases, the project must comply with the Chicago Building Code or other Municipal Codes.

Do I need to hire a general contractor?

That depends on the type of work you are doing. If you are an owner-occupant of a single-family home or residential building with up to three stories and six dwelling units, in many cases you can be your own general contractor. In that case, for carpentry, or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) work, you will need to fill out the Certification of Responsibility portion of the permit application. This certifies that you take responsibility for meeting the Chicago Building Code and other Municipal Code requirements, and for correcting any deficiencies.

All masonry, plumbing or electrical work requires a licensed contractor. An exception is granted to owner-occupants of a single-family dwelling. They may take responsibility for plumbing and masonry work by completing and notarizing the Certification of Responsibility portion of the construction permit application.

Before your permit application can be reviewed, the Department of Buildings checks if your property has any citations for building code violations or stop work orders. You must resolve any outstanding issues before you apply for a permit, or address them as part of your permit application.

Permit terms

  • Easy Permit (EPP): For small and simple home and building improvement projects, including replace and repair projects. Generally approved the day of application.
  • Standard Plan Review (SPR): For small to mid-size new construction and renovation projects using E-Plan system. Generally reviewed within one week or sooner, depending on the scope.
  • Homeowners Assistance: Special permit services are available for owner-occupants of single-family homes, i.e. plan assistance for certain renovation projects. To make things easier for single-family homeowners, the City allows the owner-occupant to draw up their own plans.
  • Zoning Approval: Most projects require approval from the Zoning Administrator.
  • Plans Required: Construction drawings prepared by a licensed architect or structural engineer.
  • Licensed Professional to do Work: For the safety and protection of homeowners and businesses, a signed contract with a licensed contractor or trade professional is required when applying for an Easy Permit.
  • Licensed Professional to Apply: Some jobs are complex enough to require a contractor, architect or engineer to apply for the permit. Remember that the homeowner is still ultimately responsible for the permits.

You can find detailed description of EPP and SPR processes in the section “Types of permit review processes“.

Now that you know permit terms, we will list the most common projects to understand whether you need a permit, licensed contractor or other requirements.

Common projects that require permit

This chart presents a summary of useful information for various residential construction, renovation and repair projects that require a permit. This chart is based on City of Chicago Department of Building requirements. The requirements are usually the same in surrounding suburbs but in some cases may differ so consult with your local department (we have compiled resources and links for most Chicagoland suburbs in this section).

ProjectType of WorkPermit ProcessHomeowners AssistanceZoning ApprovalPlansLicense to WorkLicense to Apply
Additionadding rooms, upper floors, expanding building envelopeSPRyesyesyesyes
Addition first floor addition onlySPRyesyesyesyesyes
Basementsingle-family homeSPRyesyesyes
Boilerinstalling new boiler systemSPRyesyesyes
Chimneyinstalling or replacingSPRyesyesyesyes
Chimney repairingEPPyes
Concretereplacing basement concrete slabEPPyes
Conversion of Unitsconverting single to multiple unitsSPRyesyesyesyes
Deckbuild or replace (over 6 ft from grade)SPRyesyesyesyesyes
Deck single-family home (under 6 ft from grade)SPRyesyesyesyes
Deconversion of Unitsdeconverting multiple to fewer unitsSPRyesyesyesyes
Drivewaybuilding a new drivewaySPRyesyesyesyes
Drywallover 1,000 sq. ft. (may also need an electrical permit)EPP
Electrical Systemalteration or expansionSPR yes yesyesyes
Fenceover 6 ft. tall or brick at ground levelEPPyes
Fence non-brick or chainlink, 5-6 ft. tall at ground levelEPP
Furnaceinstall a new systemSPRyesyesyesyes
Furnacereplace (4+ dwelling units)EPP yesyes
Garagenew over 600 sq. ft. or with rooftop deckSPRyesyesyesyes
Garage 600 sq. ft. or less and no rooftop deckEPP
Gut-rehabcomplete house or condo modernizationSPRyesyesyesyes
Light Fixturesinstalling or replacing light fixturesEPPyesyes
Masonryreplace/install face brickSPRyesyesyesyes
Masonrytuckpointing onlyEPPyes
Plumbing Fixturesreplace (multi-unit/condo only)EPPyes
Plumbing Systemconstruct or alter plumbingSPRyesyesyesyes
Porchbuild, replace or enclose (over 50 sq. ft./6 ft. over grade)SPRyesyesyesyes
Roofstructural workSPRyesyesyesyes
Rooftear off, recoat, recover, no structural workEPPyes
Security Alarminstallation (high-voltage only)EPPyesyes
Sewernew system, City Hall #906 EPPyesyesyesyes
Sewer repairEPPyes yesyes
Shedover 70 sq. ft.EPPyes
Solar Panels13.44 kw and greaterSPRyesyesyesyes
Solar Panels less than 13.44 kwEPPyesyesyes
Stairsstructural repair or replacement (6 + ft. over grade)SPRyesyesyesyes
Stairstread and riser repair (multi-unit)EPP
Trash Enclosureany materialEPP
Ventilation Systemnew mechanical and supplySPRyesyesyesyes
Wallsmoving, full or partial demolition (multi-unit)SPRyesyesyesyes
Walls moving, full or partial demolition (single-family home) SPRyesyesyes
Water ServicenewCity Hall #906yesyesyes
Water ServicerepairCity Hall #906 yesyes
Windows & Doorsreplacement or addition (if size or location is changed)EPPyes
Wreckingdemolition of entire home, garage or buildingCity Hall #906 yesyes
NOTE: If your building has landmark designation, landmark approval from the Department of Planning and Development is always required.

When a building permit is not required

The following common projects do not require a building permit.

  • Appliances: repairing, replacing or installing without altering electrical or plumbing.
  • Cabinets: replacing or installing kitchen or bathroom cabinets without altering electrical or plumbing.
  • Driveway: repair or replace on a private property.
  • Fence: up to 5” high on private property.
  • Floors: install, replace or repair flooring (hardwood, laminate, carpet, tile).
  • Garage door: repairing, replacing or installing.
  • Gutters: repairing or replacing.
  • Landscaping: installing or replacing on a private residential property, playground equipment
  • Painting: painting and refacing.
  • Porch: if the front porch is under 50 sq.ft.
  • Roof: add a new layer of shingles.
  • Security Alarm: if it’s low-voltage.
  • Sidewalks: if it’s on a private property.
  • Siding: no permit is required, but may need HOA approval.
  • Tile: replacing or installing.
  • Walls: painting, staining, adding trim, wallpaper.
  • Windows & Doors: if windows and doors are the same size and location.

What should I do before applying for a permit?

STEP #1. Does your project require a permit?
Yes: Check requirements in your area. For requirements in the City of Chicago see a chart in this section. Move to the step #2.
No: You may start the project.

STEP #2. Do you have any building code violations or stop work orders?
Yes: You need to resolve those issues.
No: Move to the next step #3.

STEP #3. Do you need plans or drawings?
Yes: Hire Architect, Design Professional or Draw Plans for Homeowner Assistance. Move to the step #4.
No: see “Easy Permit Process”.

STEP #4. Apply for permit and pay 100% of Zoning Fee and $300 Down Payment on Permit Fee.

• Permit will be routed for necessary reviews, including Zoning. Move to the step #5.

STEP #5. Permit approved?
Yes: Pay fee balance. Gather materials and start the work.
No: Resolve the issues.

Types of permit review processes

The City of Chicago DOB (and most nearby towns like Evanston, Glenview, Skokie, Winnetka, etc.) offers several types of permit review processes for small and large projects, residential or commercial. The local Department of Buildings staff is always available to help you identify the right permit process for your project.

If the General Contractor is performing the work, they must be licensed and bonded in the applicable contractor categories.

This section provides an overview of the different permit application and approval processes available.

Easy Permit (EPP)


  • A streamlined process for small and simple home and building improvement projects.
  • Repair and replace elements that do not require architectural plans.


  • Chicago: Available at the Chicago City Hall Office. Usually requires only one visit, and are generally approved the same day.
  • Suburbs: You can find specific instructions for Chicagoland suburbs in the section “Resources for acquiring permits in Chicago and suburbs”.
  • Before your visit, you may download an application form from (click on the Easy Permit Process under What We Do). Then submit the application at one of city offices, plus any additional documentation.
  • Some Easy Permits may be applied online – apply for an Easy Permit, pay for it and print it out.

Standard Plan Review (SPR)


  • Small to mid-sized new construction and renovation projects for buildings up to 80 feet high, residential properties of up to 49 units or commercial properties under 150,000 square feet. Usually being completed by general contractors.


  • Standard Plan Review applications are submitted online and reviewed through the City’s electronic plan review system. Each project is assigned a Project Manager to facilitate technical plan reviews, ensure plan compliance, and issue permits.
  • The architect or expediter must complete the permit application online and upload plans electronically to E-Plan.
  • Property owners should ensure their contact information is included in the application for notification purposes.
  • Your Project Manager will coordinate all technical and regulatory reviews, licenses and insurance.
  • If corrections are needed, the applicant of record will be notified and may resubmit corrected plans online electronically, 24/7, from the convenience of any computer.
  • The applicant will be notified when the review is complete and the permit is issued via email, including building owners, if contact information has been provided.

Self-Certification (SC)


  • A streamlined review process allowing Illinois-licensed architects and structural engineers who have completed a special training course, and are registered within the department, to certify that the project complies with the Chicago Building Code and other Municipal Codes.
  • Available for small to mid-sized residential and commercial projects meeting eligibility criteria.


  • Applications may be submitted online by qualified Illinois-licensed design professionals.
  • The design professional must upload the permit application and all required plans, drawings and documentation.
  • Some projects may require peer review by structural engineer.
  • The design professional will be notified if your permit is approved or corrections are needed.
  • The design professional can pay the permit fee online and download the approved plans and permit certificate for printing.
  • Expediters are not allowed to submit plans and/or obtain permits through the self-certification program.

What should I bring to the permit office?

When you are ready to apply for an EPP or Homeowner Assistance permit at City Hall, bringing the following items with you will make the process faster and easier.

  • Permit application signed by property owner
  • Architectural plans or drawings, if needed
  • Details of work to be done
  • Estimated cost of the project
  • Square footage of the area of work
  • Property Survey
  • Notarized Certification of Responsibility (not for condominiums, more than 6 units or commercial
  • buildings)
  • Other documentation, if applicable: copies of signed contracts between owner and contractor, zoning approval documentation, signed approval letter from condo associations, original electrical application from contractor, photos, etc.

Here we gathered links, DOB addresses, contacts and resources that you may find useful to start your building project in any major Chicagoland city and village.

Chicago, IL

Chicago City Hall – Department of Buildings
121 North LaSalle St., City Hall, Room 900
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-3449
Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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.

You may apply for the following permits at City Hall: Easy Permit, Self-Certification, Standard Plan Review, Driveway, Sewer, Sign, Elevator.

Permit Application Forms

You may also apply for a permit through the Homeowners Assistance Program. For more information, visit Permits page on website.

For your ease and convenience, you can also apply for some permits online at

Evanston, IL

The Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center – 3rd floor
2100 Ridge Avenue, Evanston
(847) 448-4311

Monday – Friday
8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The Community Development Department’s Building and Inspection Services Division issues construction permits for remodeling, repairing, and all new construction projects. This Division issues all building permits and inspects projects for compliance with approved plans that meet the standards of our adopted building codes.

General Information For Residential Permits

Building Permit Application

Permit Application Checklists

Bannockburn, IL

Bannockburn Building Department
2275 Telegraph Road
Bannockburn, IL 60015
(847) 945-6080

Joan Koriath
Communication & Permit Manager
(847) 405-3029

Bannockburn Building Department is responsible for implementing and enforcing current applicable codes and ordinances within the Village of Bannockburn. Building permits are required for new construction, as well as for specific scopes of work to alter or repair existing structures or property.

Village of Bannockburn Department of Building and Zoning

Building Permit Application

Building Department Guidelines

Buffalo Grove, IL

Brian Sheehan, Building Commissioner
50 Raupp Blvd
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089
(847) 459-2530

The Village of Buffalo Grove is responsible for reviewing, processing, and issuing all building permits and scheduling inspections to ensure the public safety, health, and welfare of the Community.

General Information on Permits and Inspections

Buffalo Grove Building and Zoning Services

Building Permit Application

Deerfield, IL

Deerfield Building Department
850 Waukegan Road
Deerfield, IL 60015
(847) 719-7484

A Deerfield building permit is required for any commercial and residential construction projects that entail an addition or remodeling of the existing conditions.

General Information and Permit Requirements

Building Permit Application

General Permit Submission Information Form

Glencoe, IL

Glencoe Department of Building & Zoning
675 Village Court
Glencoe, IL 60022
(847) 835-4111

Glencoe Department of Building & Zoning is a division of the Public Works Department and is responsible for assuring that all construction meets minimum health and life safety standards, building code requirements, zoning and property maintenance standards as specified in the Village Zoning Code.

Building & Zoning Applications and Forms

Building Permit Application

Glenview, IL

Glenview Building Department
2500 East Lake Avenue
Glenview, IL 60026-2600
(847) 904-4330
(847) 724-1752 Fax

Any homeowner or contractor who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the structure of a building, or to install, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, shall first make application to the Village of Glenview and obtain the required permit.

General Information About Glenview Building Permit

E-permits (Apply Online)

Golf, IL

Golf Building Department
1 Briar Rd
Golf, IL 60029
(847) 503-9008

The Village of Golf requires permits for: new construction, remodel, fence, generator, patio, shed, driveway, kitchen & bath replacement, deck, roof, and lawn irrigation.

Golf Building Permit Application Form

Building and Zoning in Village of Golf

Highland Park, IL

Highland Park Building Department
1150 Half Day Rd
Highland Park, IL 60035
(847) 432-0808

Highland Park administration requires permits for the most of construction, altering and repair projects. See this page for more information: Highland Park Building Permits.

General Building Permit

Exterior Permit

Homeowner / General Contractor Agreement

Highwood, IL

Highwood Building Department Office – City Hall 2nd Fl
17 Highwood Ave.
Highwood, IL 60040
Phone: 847-432-1924
Monday-Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm.

Highwood building permit applications can be submitted in person at City Hall during regular office hours.

Building Permit Application

Electrical Permit Application

Plumbing Permit Application

Building & Zoning General Information

Kenilworth, IL

Kenilworth Village Hall – Building/Planning Division
419 Richmond Rd
Kenilworth, IL 60043
(847) 251-1666

Kenilworth Building & Planning Division is responsible for building, zoning, planning, and other activities that relate to land use in the Village. The department implements zoning regulations, building codes, planning guidelines, and other Village codes as they relate to the built environment.

Building & Zoning General Information

Building Permit Information

Building Permit Requirements

Lake Bluff, IL

Village Hall – Building Division of the Community Development Department
40 E. Center Avenue
Lake Bluff, IL 60044
(847) 283-6885

Building permits give you legal permission to start construction of a building project in accordance with approved drawings and specifications.  The Village of Lake Bluff requires building permits for all projects resulting in an alteration or an improvement to a property.  In general, minor changes, such as painting and property maintenance, do not require a permit.

Building Permit Application

Information about Building Permit Process in Lake Bluff, IL

Lake Forest, IL

The Community Development Department
800 Field Drive
Lake Forest, IL 60045
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m
(847) 810-3521

Building permits are required to assure compliance with health and life safety building codes and protect your family and property. Most home improvement projects require a permit before work begins. Permits and inspection results are kept on file in the City of Lake Forest offices and are available for review by insurance companies in the event of a loss on the property and by potential future buyers of the property.

You may apply for a permit online at City of Lake Forest web portal.

Remodeling Permit

Wall Permit

Electric Permit

Plumbing Permit

Other permit applications are available at City of Lake Forest website.

Lincolnshire, IL

The Village of Lincolnshire Building Division
1 Olde Half Day Road
Lincolnshire, IL 60069
(847) 883-8600

A building permit is required for just about every project in Lincolnshire, except decorating (e.g. painting, trim work, carpet, etc.). You are strongly encouraged to contact the Building Department (see contacts above) to verify if permit is necessary.

Building Permit Application

Lincolnshire Building Permits Information

Lincolnwood, IL

Community Development Department
6900 Lincoln Ave
Lincolnwood, IL 60712
(847) 673-7402
Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m

Lincolnwood Community Development is a multi-functional department responsible for administering Village building, zoning, development, sign and property maintenance codes.

Building Permit Application

Contractor License Application

Other applications can be found on the Village of Lincolnwood official website.

Morton Grove, IL

Building and Inspectional Services Department
6101 Capulina Avenue
Morton Grove, IL 60053
(847) 470 – 5214
Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m

Morton Grove homeowners need building permit for any new buildings or additions to buildings, new or replacement detached garages, yard sheds, fences, signs, swimming pools, furnaces, relocating plumbing fixtures, electrical work, sewer work and more. Application forms are available on-line or may be obtained at the Dept of Building & Inspectional Services. All contractor and subcontractors (other than landscapers and painters) working in the village require a village contractor’s business license.

Building Permit Application

Residential Construction Information

General Information

Niles, IL

Niles Building Department & Community Development
1000 Civic Center Drive
Niles, IL 60714
(847) 588-8040
Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m

Some improvements in Niles, IL require that the property owner obtain a permit prior to doing the work. To obtain a building permit you must fill out a Building Permit Application. Building permit applications are available at the front counter of the Community Development Department. In addition to obtaining a permit, the Building Division requests that all proper inspections, as indicated on the condition sheet, are performed.

Permit Application

Permit Fees

Electrical Information

Plumbing Information

Generator Information

Contractor Licenses

Building Department Information Page

Northbrook, IL

Northbrook Village Hall – Development & Planning Services
1225 Cedar Lane
Northbrook, IL 60062
(847) 664-4050
Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

The Development and Planning Services Department is responsible for assisting homeowners and contractors in obtaining building permits, administering the Village’s municipal and zoning codes and implementing orderly development in the community.

Northbrook homeowners and contractors can now apply online for the following permit types: Fences, Driveway Remove/Replace, and Water Heater Replacements: Online Building Permit Applications

Single-Family Residence Permits

Information for Contractors

Development & Planning Services

Northfield, IL

Northfield Building & Development Department
361 Happ Road
Northfield, IL 60093
(847) 446-9200
Monday – Friday 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

For new construction, additions or remodeling projects, you will need the Building Construction Permit Submission List, Application for Building Permit, Application for Electrical Work, Application for HVAC Work, Application for Plumbing Work, Application for Roofing Work, and other applicable applications.

General contractors do not need to be registered in Northfield. Village administration do not require any local licenses from General Contractors and accept any City or Village they are licensed and registered in.

Village of Northfield Permit Applications

General B&D Information

Skokie, IL

Skokie Village HallThe Community Development Department
5127 Oakton St
Skokie, IL 60077
(847) 933-8223
Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

By Village Code, Skokie homeowners and contractors are required a Building Permit for the complex jobs with extensive review process such as interior remodeling, addition, deck or patio, driveway, fence, garage, sidewalk, shed, exterior remodeling or swimming pool. The Village of Skokie inspection staff enforces adopted codes to assure that the construction is safe and in compliance.

The Village Code requires many contractors to be registered and bonded with the Village on an annual basis. No permit applications can be accepted unless all project contractors have current bonding and registration.

Homeowners and contractors may apply for a permit online by registering an account.

General Information on Skokie Building Permits

Wilmette, IL

Community Development Department
1200 Wilmette Ave
Wilmette, IL 60091
(847) 853-7550

Wilmette building permits are required for the protection of the property owner, neighbors, and Village. Some projects like siding, flooring, gutters, windows and doors replacement are not requiring a permit. Call Community Development Department if you have any questions.

General Information on Building Permits

List of what work requires a permit in Wilmette

Winnetka, IL

Winnetka Village Hall
510 Green Bay Rd
Winnetka, IL 60093
(847) 716-3520
Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Licenses, permits and inspections are required for most construction activity in Winnetka, including many repair or replacement projects, in order to assure that work is performed in compliance with Village code requirements. Building codes adopted by the Village of Winnetka establish minimum requirements for the safety and well-being of the property owner, occupants and the general public.

The Village of Winnetka does not maintain a contractor licensing program; rather the Village accepts licenses issued by the State of Illinois (i.e, plumbing, irrigation and roofing contractors) or licenses issued by other municipalities which test licensees (electricians).

Building Permits & Construction Information

Building Permit Applications

Contractor Licensing

We hope this article will help you navigate through a complex process of building permits acquisition. If you have any questions or need help of a local licensed general contractor, feel free to call us at 773-685-6095 or send us a message through a contact form.

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