Chicago Porch Violations FAQ

Porch and Deck Safety in the City of Chicago FAQ

I think I might need a new porch. How do I know? 

There are countless resources on porches and decks on the internet just google Chicago Porch Violations

I don’t know if my porch is safe?

Porch safety is a big concern for landlords and tenants to understand. The City has a lot of codes involving porches and deck, or you can call a licensed Chicago Porch Contractor. 

What do I look for on my porch to understand if I have problems with my porch? 

There are hundreds of pictures on the internet to compare your porch to an example of a porch that’s up to Chicago’s code. 

Can I inspect my own porch? 

Yes, but There are many things to look for. These  are examples; Look for dry rot on the wood, look at railing height (42 inches off of decking) look at the whole porch system including joists, beams, columns, stairs, hand/guard rails, ledger boards, connections, and footings. Per ordinance, all elements of porches and decks must be able to support 100 pounds per square foot live loading. 

Can I repair it myself or can I hire a licensed Chicago Porch Contractor?

If the building is owner occupied the owner can apply for a permit, and do the repairs yourself, but it is recommended that you hire an experienced Chicago Porch Contractor. 

When do I decide if I need a permit?

When the porch components need repair or replacement. When the structural porch components such as columns, beams, foundations, stringers, floor joists and guardrails require repair.

Do I need a Permit to repair myself? 

It is always wise to get a permit. Porches safety should be a priority for landlords, and the City of Chicago is very concerned about people’s safety while using a porch and deck. 

Why do I need a permit? 

The City of Chicago requires a permit to repair and/or replace porch components if the porch of an occupied single family home is less than 50 square feet and less than 6’0” off the ground then no permit is required, but this makes a small leeway. Most porches are not those dimensions. 

What processes are for getting a permit?

One way is to get an easy permit. Or get a full permit from a licensed Architect or Chicago Porch Contractor.

Where can I get an application for a permit?

From the city of chicago building department.

What if I just want to go directly with a porch contractor, and can I save money?

Sometimes it could be easier and cost efficient to go with a Chicago Porch Contractor, they get quantity discounts from the Architects and wood distributors. 

Where can I find an Architect that’s licensed?

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) – Chicago Chapter or the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois (SEAOI).

Do I need to hire a licensed general contractor or can I act as my own general contractor?  

If the building is owner occupied, it is recommended that you hire an experienced Chicago Porch Contractor. The City cannot provide recommendations, but it is good practice to contact Chicago porch contractors to obtain a bid.

Where do I ask for an inspection of my porch?  

A porch permit inspection needs to be requested at: https://webapps1.cityofchicago.org/eforms/org/cityofchicago/permitInspectionAppointment/index.jsp.  

A City inspector looked at my porch, and gave me a violation. Now what do I do?

The violation of notice will either be for an Administrative Hearing or a notice from the Circuit Court. Both notices you receive will tell you if a plan and permit is required for repairs/replacement.

  1. A date for the Administrative Hearing will be scheduled and you should bring any proof of compliance. You should bring the permit and photos showing before and after pictures of the porch.  
  2. A court inspector will be assigned to your case.  That inspector will be responsible for follow-up inspections and guidance.  Call the number on your notice to obtain the name and number of the court inspector.

Most people get upset when a city inspector looks at their porch or deck but in retrospect you get a free inspection and in the end you know what is needed to repair your porch or deck. 

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