Facade Ordinances

Ordinance Administration

The Department of Buildings (DOB) administers the facade ordinance for the City of Chicago. The DOB is located at 2045 West Washington Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60612-2428. The Web site for the DOB’s Exterior Wall Program includes downloadable forms that are required to be submitted by the licensed professional completing the inspection. The site also includes the ordinance titled "Maintenance of Exterior Walls and Enclosures." (PDF) The ordinance "Rules for Exterior Wall Maintenance" (PDF), effective October 9, 2015, defines the requirements for exterior wall inspections and maintenance.

Buildings Requiring Inspection

Chicago's facade ordinance is applicable to building enclosures and exterior walls that are eighty (80) feet or more in height.The term "exterior walls and enclosures" refers to the exterior envelope of a building or structure, or any part thereof, including, but not limited to, balconies, fire escapes, chimneys, hanging air-conditioners, marquees, at-grade canopies, signs, flagpoles, fire escapes, and window washing and exterior maintenance systems. The current facade ordinance was adopted in 1996 and the most recent revision became effective April 1, 2008.

Building Classification

Buildings are classified into four categories based on the exterior wall attachment system and the corrosion potential of any metal that is in direct contact with the exterior wall materials. Inspection intervals and the extent of the inspection effort are dependent on the building classification.

Critical Examination

Critical examinations, which require hands-on inspection on one 24 foot long scaffolding per elevation, are required at four, eight, or twelve years depending on the building classification. Critical examinations also require one inspection opening per elevation on buildings fifty (50) years or older.

Ongoing Inspection

In addition to the critical examinations, building owners are required to submit an ongoing inspection and repair program report to the city at the halfway point of the critical examination cycle. Hands-on inspections of the facade are not required for the ongoing inspection.

Under the October 15, 2015 Rules and Regulations, owners of occupied buildings, regardless of building category, may choose to file Ongoing Inspection and Repair Program (“Short Form”) reports every second year and not file Critical Examination Program reports at category mandated frequencies, provided that all of the following conditions are met:

  • There is a Critical Examination Program report on file that has been accepted by the Department of Buildings
  • The most recently filed report, either Critical Examination Program report or Ongoing Inspection and Repair Program report, classified the building as “safe” or “safe with a repair and maintenance program”
  • Owners are not one (1) year or more delinquent in filing an Ongoing Inspection and Repair Program report

Owners of newly constructed buildings are permitted to begin the "Short Form Only" program without an initial critical examination provided that dangerous and hazardous conditions have not been discovered on the building. The initial report will be required two (2) years after first occupancy. Owners of newly constructed buildings that choose not to file in the "Short Form Only" program must file an initial critical examination four (4) years after first occupancy.


The report for either the critical inspection or ongoing inspection requires the inspector to classify the facade as Safe,
Safe with Repair and Maintenance Program, or Unsafe and Imminently Hazardous. A special form is required for submission of an Ongoing Inspection and Repair Program report and a special format is required for the Critical Examination Program report.


The information provided in is general in nature and should not be relied upon as fact. Persons requiring specific information on facade ordinances should contact local authorities or e-mail