Chicago Building Permit Processes

Permit Acquisition Simplified

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Chicago Permitting

Guiding Through Building Permits in Chicago

This hands-on guide is for any stakeholder involved in the construction process. When it comes to permitting, there is so much below the surface that most of us don’t think about when dealing with a self-certification or sign permit, for example. This guide will keep you on track on a reasonable timeline. 


The Self - Certification Application

This process is faster than the Standard Plan Application, but you must be eligible through the City of Chicago; if you’re unsure check the chart here. If you are an out of state stakeholder, you can go through the standard plan review or reach out to our team for further assistance.

You will first need to ask yourself the following questions: What is the construction cost? Will there be structural work? Excavation? Are we ready for a debt check?Once you have your questions answered.

Follow this Self- Certified Checklist:

Our team has over 25 years of experience working on self-cert projects including the development of the Wrigley Building's Lou Malnati's Addition. The average timeline for a self- certification application takes 6 - 8 weeks, but can take up to 3 months. With the help of one of our Project Managers that time can better managed.

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The Standard Plan Application

The Standard Plan Application takes longer than Self-Cert because the architect assigned does not have certification needed to speed along the process; which is common when working with out of state architecture firms. 

You will need to ask yourself the following: What is the construction cost? Will there be structural work? Excavation? Are we ready for a debt check? Once you have your questions answered.

Follow this Standard Plan Checklist:

  • Project Drawings
  • Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) Form
  • Department of Buildings (DOB) Building Permit Application (BPA)
  • Department of Buildings (DOB) Electrical Permit Application (EPA)
  • Energy Code Compliance Form
  • Owners Letters

Your plans will then need approval from the following City departments:

  • Architecture
  • Accessibility
  • Electrical
  • Fire Prevention
  • Ventilation
  • Refrigeration
  • Plumbing
  • Structural
  • Environmental
  • Zoning
  • Planning
  • Lakefront
  • Landmark

Our team has over 25 years of experience working on standard plan projects including the development of the World's Largest Starbucks on Michigan Avenue. The average timeline for a self- certification application takes 8 - 10 weeks, but can take up to 3 months. With the help of one of our Project Managers that time can better managed.

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Grant of Privilege

A Grant of Privilege is needed for any occupation of public way space, including encroachments on, over or under the street, sidewalk, parkway or alley; and are issued for five years and are renewable.

Before submitting the application, you must have any necessary entities sign off on the project which includes the Alderman, Public Way Unit and City Council. Once you have the project signed off, 

Follow this Grant of Privilege Checklist:

  • Application
  • Printed plans
  • Certificate of Insurance (COI)
  • Photos of existing public way encroachment
  • Account with the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP)

The average timeline for a Grant of Privilege Application can take 3-6 months. Grant of privilege permits are handled as ordinances in Chicago. A grant of privilege ordinance must pass the Chicago City Council before a permit can be issued. COVID-19 has led city officials to make temporary adjustments and you can read more about them here

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Public Way

Burnham has extensive experience in navigating the process and helping to cut through the red tape. Elements requiring a permit if placed in the public way can include:

Checklist:

  • Permanent Public Way
  • Peak Hour Exemptions
  • Tent Permits
  • Grant of Privilege
  • Canopies
  • Harbor and Bridge Permits
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