Passing any form of building inspection can be a complex process if you don’t know what the code says in the first place. The Chicago Porch Construction Guidelines under the Chicago Building code is your point of reference. Here’s all you should know about the code, but first:

What Is Porch Construction Compliance?

Porch construction compliance is a set of Porch Construction and Design Guidelines meant to serve as a reference to homeowners, licensed construction professionals, building owners and contractors for consistency purposes in the construction of porches.

What Does the Chicago Porch Code Say?

The Chicago Porch Code follows a set of rules listed under the Porch Construction Guidelines, divided into sections. Here are its contents in summary.

SECTION A: GLOSSARY. Gives all the terms used in the code, and defines how they are used within the guidelines.

SECTION B: MATERIALS FOR CONSTRUCTION – Specifies the materials commonly used in the construction of decks and porches.

SECTION C: BUILDING CODE – Section C references excerpts from the Chicago Building Code which are applicable to porch design and construction

SECTION D: DRAWINGS – Section D includes the plans and details that illustrate porch construction in reference to how wood framing and connections should be drawn and constructed.

SECTION E: LOAD TABLES – The Load Tables of Section E gives provisions that assist to determine the right wood member and bolt sizes.

SECTION F: EXAMPLE DESIGN – The Sample Designs of Section F include the information of Sections D and E to create a porch design.

SECTION G: PORCH CHECKLIST – The Porch Checklist of Section G is used to evaluate and assess the condition of a porch or deck after construction.

SECTION H: PORCH EVALUATION – The Porch Evaluation of Section H determines the quantity  of repair or replacement and the level of required for compliance to the code.

SECTION I: PORCH PROCESS – Section I is meant to show the process used for porch design, DOB permitting, inspections, construction and closeout.

Basically the document details what anyone constructing a porch or deck in Chicago should do in order to pass inspection and be on the right side of the law.

Top 8 Most Common Chicago Porch Code Violations

Not building your porch or deck to code could have serious safety and cost ramifications. You might end up spending more while trying to bring your porch to code than what you actually spent on construction, porch code violations are common. That is despite the Plan Review Process meant to point out code issues that may come up or exist before construction begins.

Here are the 8 most common porch code violations you should watch out for.

    1. No Protection against Rot or Decay – Decay is a naturally occurring process for any construction material that’s vulnerable to weathering, specifically lumber. You’ll find specifics to the materials you should use under Section B of the Chicago Porch Construction guidelines. The best way to protect against rot is to use preservative-treated lumber.
    2. Poor Anchoring Support – All porches and decks require sufficient anchoring in the event of strong winds, earthquakes hurricanes and the like. You’ll find specifics to anchoring guidelines in section D of the Chicago Porch Construction Guidelines.
    3. Using The Wrong Wood Members and Bolt Sizes – Another common code violation is using the wrong wood members and bolt sizes. Reasons could be cost-cutting measures or not knowing what the right bolt sizes are. That’s probably why you should consult a licensed professional to ensure you don’t violate section E of the code.
    4. Using Substandard Drawings – During inspection, you’ll need to provide the drawings used during construction. Drawing that don’t meet the required standards will be flagged for violation. That’s actually a common occurrence with DIY porch construction projects. That’s why Section F provides example designs you can use as reference.


  • Incorrect Decking – The Code provides that deck boards should be supported by joists. Decking should also be either tongue and groove or individually spaced boards. Seems obvious, but that’s a common code violation most porch construction projects do not pass.  


    1. Not Obtaining A Permit Before Starting Work – Under the Chicago Building Code, you are supposed to apply for a permit and get approved before work begins. Reserving that process for later is a code violation most people ignore. To avoid penalties, there’s simply no workaround.


  • Ignoring Additional Action – Additional action includes placing signs on a dilapidated porch. This violation obviously only applies to poorly maintain porches, but it’s a common violation people ignore. The porch code specifies that “Porches that are in bad condition and can only be used for emergency exiting must be posted with a sign stating “This Porch is in a Dangerous and Hazardous Condition”. The signs must be visible to anyone likely to use the porch as an entry or exit point.


  1. Using incorrect stair tread width –A commonly overlooked portion of porch construction but very simple to avoid. The code says “Stair treads must be at least 10-1/2 inches in width (a 2×10 is not a proper width tread).  However, if an existing porch system has 9-1/4 inch treads with no additional problems can remain”.

How Do I Avoid Chicago Porch Code Violations?

The only way to ensure you’re not in violation of the Chicago Porch Code is to consult a licensed porch construction expert. It might seem expensive but it’s not. You’ll actually find it more efficient and time-saving. it will actually be more expensive if you’re caught up on the wrong side of the law.

If you’re hell-bent on performing a DIY porch construction, ensure you pass through all the processes required to ensure compliance. That would include applying for the necessary permits, coming up with the right drawings, seeking the approved materials and applying for inspection once you’re done.

It is however highly advised that you seek guidance throughout the process if you’re doing it for the first time. The City of Chicago provides simple guidelines to be followed. You’ll basically be doing what’s required to ensure the safety of whoever is using the porch.

How Do I Comply With The Chicago Porch Code?

Again, the best way to ensure compliance with the Chicago Porch Code is to consult an expert. An expert will guide you through the process from start to finish. You’ll also ensure your porch is up to standard, and all legal processes are met. However, basically the City of Chicago official website is resourceful while seeking compliance. You can also visit the local authority in your area for guidance.

How Do I Apply For Porch Code Compliance Inspection?

The City of Chicago provides that the AIA (American Institute of Architects) is your best bet while seeking approved professionals who will assist you to apply for porch code compliance. You can then apply for inspection through the City’s Department of Buildings.

Final Words

Finally, if you have any questions about permits, compliance, construction or inspection, you can consult the City’s Department of Buildings. If you still have questions about Chicago Porch Compliance, you can read these FAQs. The Porch Construction Guidelines and checklist can be found here.