Commercial, major, residential, and structural development projects within the limits of Chicago have numerous plan reviews according to the City of Chicago Department of Buildings (DOB). All the plan reviews are meant to speed up the construction projects of varying complexities and scopes, providing efficient services to the construction and design teams.
For the year 2017, the DOB has three plan reviews – Developer Services Program, Standard Plan Review, and the Easy Permit Process. Last year DOB introduced a new plan review for major or complex developments, known as Direct Developer Services
Developer Services Program
Developer Services Program is mainly for meeting the requirements of projects that are complex. These plan reviews are mandatory if the building is more than 80 feet tall, if businesses use space greater than 150,000 square feet, and if schools use over 60,000 square feet. The City of Chicago assigns a third party reviewer to go through the construction plans of developers. The negotiation of the entire process takes place between the developer and the project administrator at the DOB.
Although the project administrator opens the door for plan reviews, only a third party firm has the right to review the building plan.
Developer Services Program is also applicable to the following projects:
- Gut rehab projects that have a minimum of 50 units or more
- Projects whose basement is at least two levels or deeper
Direct Developer Services
Direct Developer Services is for projects that are complex or large-scale. Under this type of plan review, there is a bidding process through which the project team has the opportunity to choose the third-party reviewer. After the selection of the consultant, the plan review and negotiation of other approvals take place among the DOB, project administrator, and the project team.
Easy Permit Process
Easy Permit Process or EPP is for projects that are commercial or straightforward residential projects. Replacement of windows, doors, and electrical work are common projects that fall under the Easy Permit Process. These review plans also include the following:
- Electrical work
- Gas furnaces replacement
- Masonry work
- Prevailing plumbing fixtures replacement
- Replacement of drywalls for more than 1,000 square feet
- Replacement of windows and doors
Replacement of hot water heaters, replacement of doors and windows, construction of garages with wooden frames, replacement of the residential furnace, fence installation, tuck pointing and electrical work plans can be submitted online. However, any other type of project that doesn’t fall into these categories requires personal submission at the DOB. The plans must include all the necessary forms, the scope of work of the project and the licensed contractors carrying out the work.
Standard Plan Review
The vast majority of residential and commercial projects fall under the Standard Plan Review or SPR. Standard Plan Review includes excavation, tenant finish, alteration of the interior, and new construction projects.
The following projects also fall under the Standard Plan Review:
- Commercial constructions below 80 feet
- Exterior and interior alterations
- Mercantile and business projects, not more than 150,000 square feet
- New projects
- Residential high-rises lesser than 80 feet
- Programs of self-certification and small projects
For the review process, the project team has to provide the City of Chicago with electronic architectural
plans for review. According to the scope of work of the project, the electronic architectural plan may have to go through 13 reviews.
Before submitting the plan for approval to the DOB, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development must give zoning approval. Sometimes the Chicago Department of Transportation also has to give approval as an external reviewer.
After the submission of the electronic architectural plan, a project manager will be assigned to review the plan and issue the necessary permits. Throughout the entire review process, the project manager acts as the only point of contact between the project team and the DOB.