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Permitting and Inspections

Permits and E-Plan

To ensure a safe and quality environment for the occupants and visitors of commercial office buildings, the City of Chicago Department of Buildings enforces the Chicago Building Code. BOMA/Chicago has worked with the Department of Buildings to improve the permitting and inspection process which is designed to promote high quality design standards as well as the conservation, rehabilitation and reuse of the City's existing buildings.

In 2012, to increasing efficiencies and modernize the permit processes, the City of Chicago Department of Buildings transitioned from a paper-based plan review system to an electronic plan review system referred to as E-Plan.

E-Plan allows a building owner’s design professional to submit plans for review and approval online electronically. The system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By eliminating the need for paper plans to be manually printed and delivered. E-Plan also allows:

  • Simultaneous review of the plans by all professional and trade disciplines;
  • Improved clarity in direction from City departments on changes or corrections to plans that need to be made before approval can be given, right on the electronic plans in clear type-face;
  • Re-submission of corrected plans online electronically, 24/7, from the convenience of any computer;
  • Real-time return approved stamped plans once necessary reviewing fees have been submitted.


The Department of Buildings has a Self-Certification program for eligible projects. Self-certification simplifies the building permit review process by having a licensed architect or structural engineer of record take full responsibility for code compliance. Plan reviews are eliminated by allowing the Professional of Record to certify that the project complies with the Chicago Building Code.

Elevator Annual Inspection Certification (AIC) Program

In 2009, the City of Chicago instituted a third party elevator inspection program. The Elevator Annual Inspection Certification (AIC) program requires buildings in the central business district to use qualified elevator inspectors (QEIs) to conduct an annual elevator inspection and certify the results with the city before December 31st of the inspection year.

All inspections (including any necessary re-inspections) and the submittal of the inspection results must be completed by the year-end deadline. The building owner/manager must submit the results of the inspections via the website. If an elevator permit is required for repair work, it must be secured, but the work does not need to be completed before the end of December. If repair work does not require a permit, then that work must be completed by December 31st.

Under the program, inspection certificates can be printed once the online information has been entered and all fees paid. Certificates must be displayed in the elevators or on the devices.  It is no longer sufficient to post a notice that the certificates are on file.