Chicago issues record number of single family home renovation permits; nails “Bad Contractors” with $100,000 in fines

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guide to permits
Chicago's Guide to Permits publication

The Chicago Department of Buildings says that the city issued 15 percent more single-family home renovations permits in 2017, thanks in large part to reforms in the process that have made it faster and easier for homeowners to obtain renovation permits. The changes allow single-family homeowners to obtain renovation permits for work that does not require special zoning approvals in 30 days or less.

“A home renovation project can be one of the biggest investments a resident makes,” commissioner Judy Frydland said in a statement. “We are committed to being a partner, not an obstacle, in that process and will continue working to make getting a permit as simple as possible.

Chicago issued an average of 200 single-family home renovation permits per month in 2017; a 30 permit per month increase over 2016. The city also saw an increase in Easy Permits that allow homeowners to obtain an online permit for electrical, plumbing and other simple structural projects in an average of one day.

To further simplify the permitting process, the city also developed a Guide to Permits that clearly explains the process and clarifies when a permit is and is not needed.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel first announced the new process reforms in October 2016, as part of an ongoing effort to encourage more single-family homeowners across Chicago to take on home renovation projects while ensuring those projects are completed safely and in compliance with trade regulations.

Increased enforcement of the “Bad Contractor” ordinance helped the city protect residents undertaking home renovations projects this year, and suspended 16 problem contractors, filed more than 70 lawsuits against others and collected more than $100,000 in fines and penalties for unsafe or non-compliant work, the city said in a news release.

“Introduced by the mayor in February 2017, the Bad Contractor ordinance prevents general contractors, architects, expeditors and sub-contractors from applying for any new building permits when they are caught using unlicensed worker, performing or directing work that is not code complaint or threatens the health and safety of workers or the public.”

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