Chicago Building Code

The Chicago Building Code establishes minimum standards for the construction, alteration, repair, maintenance, and demolition of buildings and other structures in order to protect public health, safety and welfare. The Chicago Building Code includes all provisions of the Municipal Code of Chicago related to construction, plumbing, heating, electrical, fire prevention, sanitation, zoning or other health and safety standards relating to buildings and structures, except provisions enforced exclusively by a city department other than the Department of Buildings. 

An electronic copy of the entire Municipal Code of Chicago, including the Chicago Building Code, is available from American Legal Publishing.


Navigating the Chicago Building Code

This section provides a guide to locating provisions on specific topics within the Chicago Building Code.

Administration
Accessibility
Building (New Construction)
Conveyance Devices (Elevators)
Electrical
Fire Prevention
Fuel Gas
Mechanical
Energy Conservation

Plumbing
Signs
Trade Licenses
Work in Existing Buildings
Minimum Requirements for Existing Buildings
Zoning

 

Administration

The Department of Buildings is established under Chapter 2-22 of the Municipal Code. The initial chapters of Title 13 of the Municipal Code prescribe departmental operations.

 

Accessibility

The City of Chicago’s accessibility requirements are found in Chapter 18-11. Some buildings or projects may also be required to meet additional state or federal accessibility requirements. Existing businesses may also have obligations to provide accessible services under the City of Chicago Human Rights Ordinance (Chapter 2-160). For more information, contact the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD).

 

Building (New Construction)

The City of Chicago’s requirements for construction of new buildings are primarily found in Title 13 and Title 15 of the Municipal Code. Additional requirements may apply to regulated businesses, and these requirements are found in the applicable business license provisions in Title 4.

For users more familiar with the International Building Code organization, the Department of Buildings has prepared a table which correlates provisions of the Municipal Code of Chicago to chapters within the Common Code Format topical groups.

 

Conveyance Devices

The City of Chicago’s requirements for elevators, escalators, and other conveyance devices are partially based on and incorporate provisions of model codes published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and other standards development organizations. These documents are available for purchase from their respective publishers:

Note: Provisions applicable until September 30, 2018 are found in Chapters 18-30, 18-31, and 18-32 of the Municipal Code. New requirements, found in Title 14C, take effect October 1, 2018.

 

Electrical

The Chicago Electrical Code (Title 14E of the Municipal Code) is based on and incorporates provisions of the 2017 National Electrical Code, published by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA). A free, read-only version of the National Electrical Code can be viewed at http://www.nfpa.org (free account required). For frequent users of the Chicago Electrical Code, a document which compiles the model code provisions and amendments adopted by the City of Chicago may be purchased from NFPA.

 

Fire Prevention

Provisions of the Building Code intended to reduce or prevent the risk of fires are found in Title 15. Many of these provisions are jointly administered by the Department of Buildings and Chicago Fire Department. For more information on provisions administered exclusively by the Fire Department, contact the Fire Prevention Bureau.

 

Fuel Gas

Requirements for fuel gas (natural gas) installations are found in Chapter 18-28, Article XIV, and are based on the 2003 International Fuel Gas Code published by the International Code Council (ICC). A copy of the 2003 edition may be purchased from ICC at http://www.iccsafe.org/

 

Mechanical

Requirements for mechanical heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are found in Chapter 18-28 of the Municipal Code.

 

Energy Conservation

Requirements for energy conservation are found in Chapter 18-13 and are based on and incorporate the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code, published by the International Code Council (ICC). A free, read-only copy of the 2015 edition may be viewed online at https://codes.iccsafe.org/public/document/IECC2015. Copies are also available for purchase from ICC, http://www.iccsafe.org. For more information on how to show compliance with these requirements, please visit the Energy Conservation Requriements page.

 

Plumbing

Requirements for plumbing within buildings are found in Chapter 18-29 of the Municipal Code. Additional provisions related to the City of Chicago’s water and sewer systems, including requirements for site stormwater management, are found in Title 11. These provisions are primarily administered by the Department of Water Management (DWM).

 

Signs

Sign requirements are found in both the Building Code (Chapter 13-20, Article XIII; Chapter 13-96, Articles I and II) and Zoning Ordinance (Title 17). Electrified and illuminated signs must also comply with electrical requirements in section 14E-6-600.

 

Trade Licenses

Trade licenses administered by the Department of Buildings are regulated by the following provisions of the Municipal Code:

Drain Layers Chapter 4-28 (administered jointly with DWM)
General Contractors Chapter 4-36
Excavators Chapter 4-196
Steam Boiler Erectors and Repairers Chapter 4-266
Crane Operators Chapter 4-288
Electrical Contractors Chapter 4-290
Supervising Electricians Chapter 4-292
Elevator Mechanic Contractors Chapter 4-298
Supervising Elevator Mechanics  Chapter 4-298
Plumbers  Chapter 4-332
Plumber Apprentices  Chapter 4-332
Plumbing Contractors Chapter 4-336
Stationary Engineers  Chapter 4-344
Employing Masons Chapter 4-376
Mason Contractors   Chapter 4-376
Wrecking Contractors   Chapter 4-36, 13-32

 

Note: Expediters are licensed by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) under Chapter 4-6, Article XXV. The Chicago Fire Department also issues various licenses, as provided in Chapter 15-4.

 

Work in Existing Buildings (Repairs, Alterations, and Additions)

Work in existing buildings, including repairs, alterations, and additions is not required to meet all requirements for new construction as described in Chapter 13-200. Work in existing buildings is also required to meet the applicable energy conservation requirements (see above).

 

Minimum Requirements for Existing Buildings

Minimum standards applicable to all buildings are found in Chapter 13-196. There are also a number of retroactive provisions in Title 15.

 

Zoning

The Chicago Zoning Ordinance is Title 17 of the Municipal Code of Chicago. The Chicago Zoning Ordinance is distinct from the Chicago Building Code and is administered by the Department of Planning and Development, Bureau of Zoning. Additional land use regulations administered by the Zoning Bureau are found in Title 16.

 

Disclaimer: Not all laws applicable to construction and building maintenance are found on this website or in the Municipal Code of Chicago. In some cases, Illinois or federal laws or regulations may impose additional requirements for a project. Please consult an Illinois-licensed architect, engineer, or attorney to determine which laws apply to your building or project.