Chicago Building Code Modernization; What's Next?

Christopher E. Chwedyk, CSI, AIA

Posted by Christopher E. Chwedyk, CSI, AIA

Phase 2 of the Chicago Building Code (CBC) was approved on April 10, 2019 and the question on everyone’s mind is - what’s next?

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood” -Daniel Burnham
While there have been prior revisions to the CBC, this update is the most substantial in the last 70 years. This significant leap forward more closely aligns the City of Chicago with model codes and standards used throughout the United States and additionally will be among the first major cities to utilize the 2018 International Building Code as part of this update.

The intent of the new CBC modernization has always been to be as a hybrid-removing outdated provisions, interjecting International Building Code standards where relevant while still maintaining some of the current requirements that were deemed important for our City to maintain.

Anticipated Implementation Timeline

With this phase of the modernization effort passing, there will be some further updates and training.

The posted ordinance from the City Council Journal includes the Chicago amendments to the 2018 IBC.  It is understood that a fully compiled edition will be published that includes a compilation of both for ease of review. Here are some key dates per the Transitional Provisions (14A-1-105).


  • June 1st, the Energy Code takes effect and will include updated  Compliance Statement Forms.
  • July 1st, the Administrative Provisions follow.
  • An internal Department of Buildings (DOB) training program for Plan Reviewers will begin to ensure the team will be ready for the full implementation of the new CBC. After August 1st, this may include training on select projects.


  • Around October 1st, the Department of Buildings may begin a pilot program, allowing in-house and developer services projects to design and be reviewed  per the new CBC.October 1st, the ICC Chicago Code book is anticipated to be published.


  • December 1st, optional early election to request use of the new CBC. Also, the Chicago Accessibility Provisions become effective.
  • Phase 3 modernization should move forward including which includes Plumbing, Mechanical and Fuel/Gas.
  • A required one day training will be offered to Self-certification architects to allow submittal of projects designed under the new CBC. DOB will be offering an option as part of the standard three day self certification training.

If they choose to use the new CBC all projects moving forward must be designed per the provisions of Title 14B. The first training is intended for December with more to follow in 2020, proposed for March and June. Without taking the training, Architects can only submit under the current CBC until the mandatory compliance date.

Early 2020

  • Jan 1, 2020: Mandatory sprinkler requirements that supersede old Code. Applies to projects of 4 or more DU’s.  


  • August 1st, the new Chicago Building Code becomes mandatory. There will be exceptions, including phased projects that began prior to the said dates.

Familiarize yourself with the change

During this time, you can review the code modernization booklet for highlights of the new code related to specific types of projects and how this might impact future projects. Currently the new approved code substitutions As posted on the City Clerks website to be reviewed in tandem with the International Building Code 2018 seeing what is new to the Chicago Code, what has been omitted and those requirements that will remain the same.  Additionally, AIA Chicago released an informational summary of the anticipated changes.

You’ve got questions, Burnham has answers
Just like the Department of Buildings our Code Team is ramping up to fully understand all of the changes so we are prepared to provide seamless code consulting services. We are here to help and will continue to update with upcoming blog posts. Reach out to us with any questions or concerns.  

This change isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ and will be a collaborative effort between public and private sectors as we all embark on the path to compliance with the new Chicago Building Code.


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