Frequently Asked Questions

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1. When do I need a building permit?
2. How do I know what kind of work I can do on my property, such as deck, addition , fence, garage size and location?
3. How long does it take to get a permit?
4. How much do permits cost?
5. Do you have a list of contractors that you recommend?
6. I obtained a permit several years ago, do you still have a copy of my Plat of Survey?
7. How many sets or drawings are required for application submittal?
8. What are the requirements for architecturally sealing of application documents?
9. Who do I call about asbestos?
10. Who do I call about hazardous materials?
11. Who do I call about lead abatement?
12. Do I need a permit for window replacement?
13. What does the “work valuation” line on the permit application mean?

1. When do I need a building permit?
Generally, a building permit is required for all construction/remodeling not including paint, decorating, and carpeting. Please refer to the Residential Project Information and Commercial Project Information for further description of requirements.

2. How do I know what kind of work I can do on my property, such as deck, addition, fence, garage size and location?

The allowable construction size and location is governed by the Zoning Code. You can call the Zoning at 847.448.4311.

3. How long does it take to get a permit?
The amount of time varies with the type of project, and how complete the information is when we receive it. For projects that require plan reviews from various City departments (i.e. additions, new construction, all commercial projects, etc.) you should allow 4-5 weeks to receive plan review comments. Once a plan review is completed, it is the obligation of the property owner, or their representative (architect, engineer, contractor, etc.) to respond. This time frame is not in the City's control, but some time to respond to the City's comments should be budgeted into your project schedule. Also, during the spring and summer months our permit activity increases. Please call the desk at 847.448.4311 for an estimate of application turn around time.

4. How much do permits cost?

The permit fees are based upon the type and scope of work you are proposing. The Building Department publishes its fees in a document called the Permit Fee Schedule and on each of the individual subcontractor work sheets. Unfortunately, not every instance can be covered upon these materials. If a person wishes to find out, approximately, what their permit will cost, they can call Building 847.448.4311, with a detailed description of the project, and request an approximation of the permit fees.

5. Do you have a list of contractors that you recommend?

Although the City keeps a list of building contractors that are registered with the City of Evanston, we do not make any recommendations. If you are in the process of selecting a contractor, we will be happy to tell you whether or not someone is currently registered with us. If your selected contractor is not registered with us, that process is mentioned elsewhere, or your contractor may call, and we can assist them. As far a recommendation, ask your proposed contractor for a list of current references - and then call them! A reputable contractor will have many satisfied customers. Some questions to ask when making checking references are:

  • What was the scope of the work performed? (Is it similar to your project?)
  • Was the work done as per the agreement?
  • Was the work done in the time frame that was proposed?
  • Would you hire this contractor again? If not, why?

6. I obtained a permit several years ago, do you still have a copy of my Plat of Survey?
The City maintains copies of active permits for a limited period, after which time the permit information is sent out to be microfilmed and then stored in files in Central Records on the third floor of the Civic Center. These records are available to be viewed and printed by property owners or authorized representatives, between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Please be aware that not all permits are microfilmed.

7. How many sets or drawings are required for application submittal?
For remodeling at:

  • Single Family residences: 3 sets of drawings
  • Multi-family residences and Commercial Projects: 4 sets of drawings
  • Commercial Projects with public cooking facility (i.e. restaurant, cafeteria): 5 sets of drawings

8. What are the requirements for architecturally sealing of application documents?

The architect/engineer must be licensed in the State of Illinois. Each page of the architectural document must be sealed with a wet ink (reproducible) seal with original signature. If there is a table of contents listing the page numbers and drawing description, the wet ink architectural seal can be placed next to this instead of on each page.

9. Who do I call about asbestos?
You can contact the Environmental Protection Agency: 847.741.7771.
Check with the EPA for all construction related environmental issues and permits.

10. Who do I call about hazardous materials?
You can contact the Fire Department at 847.448.8192.

11. Who do I call about lead abatement?

For the Renovation, Repair, and Paint Rule program or other lead containment issues, contact Community Development at 847.448.4311.

12. I am replacing the windows in my single family home. Do I need a permit?

Yes, in addition if you are in a Historic District or are a listed Landmark property you are required to apply and obtain an approved Certificate of Appropriateness from the Preservation Commission.

*If you are not sure if your property is in any of the 3 Historic Districts, please contact the City of Evanston Preservation Coordinator at 847.448.8687, or you may check About My Place here.

13. What does the “work valuation” line on the permit application mean?

It means the actual dollar amount identifying the value of the construction, excluding Architects’ fees and land acquisition costs. You must include the cost of the all items necessary for the scope of work to be constructed that is identified on the requested permit. For example, for many projects, a General Contractor is required to build the construction. If it is a project that requires a General Contractor, then their fee is required to be included in the value of the construction.
 
All earthwork, concrete work, framing, roofing, doors and windows, carpentry, flooring, HVAC equipment and installation, plumbing work and plumbing fixtures, electrical work and electrical fixtures is to be included in the work valuation. For restaurants, the kitchen equipment is to be included. This amount must be identified prior to the permit being issued. At the completion of a project, a final sworn statement of construction cost may be requested. As the permit fees are based on the actual work value, additional fees may be assessed prior to a final Certificate of Occupancy being issued.