Chicago’s modernized building code

The “new” code brings the Chicago Building Code into the 21st Century by incorporating many sections of the 2018 International Building Code, ensuring that designers and developers can use modern building systems and methods. It will be reorganized to match the IBC layout, and it will be easier to update when the International Code Council updates the model codes. The Chicago Building Code was last comprehensively updated in 1949 – 70 years ago.

The “new” code is a combination of construction codes: Building (new construction), Accessibility, Energy Conservation, Existing Buildings, Rehabilitation Code, Conveyance Device, Fuel Gas, and more.

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When does the updated building code take effect?

Chicago building code (CBC) implementation timeline:

  • Building permits for projects that use the modernized Chicago building code can be submitted starting December 1, 2019

  • Updated energy code, adopting International Energy Conservation Code, took effect June 1, 2019

  • Administrative provisions took effect July 1, 2019

  • Manual dry standpipe requirement for mid-rise buildings introduced earlier this year is replaced by the modernized building code provisions on December 1, 2019

  • Accessibility-related provisions in Titles 14B and 14R apply to all construction and rehabilitation work beginning December 1, 2019 (except as otherwise noted)

  • Self-cert training for architects who aren’t self-certified is December 2-4; training for architects who currently are self-certified is December 10.

  • Sprinklers in residential buildings with 4 or more units will be enforced January 1, 2020

  • All projects must submit using the updated code starting August 1, 2020

The process isn’t complete: Phase 3 includes plumbing, mechanical, fuel gas, sign, and remaining fire prevention code items that are going to be adopted by 2021.

The modernized building code is a “live” code and it will be updated as needed.

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How can I read the new Chicago building code?

The ordinance, SO2019-1452, and is over 740 pages long and updates multiple titles and chapters in the Municipal Code of Chicago. The PDF is 75 MB. The updated CBC was adopted on April 10, 2019.

Code corrections were adopted on July 24, 2019, in ordinance SO2019-4097.


How can I learn more about it?

MAPS has a 1-hour seminar to teach architects, contractors, and developers about the changes to Chicago building code and how it affects projects. Look for an open date on our public calendar to book a session instantly.

MAPS’s seminar is designed for project managers, architects, engineers, and contractors. It covers new fire prevention concepts, how the updated code is organized, changes that affect common building types in Chicago, and potential cost & design impacts.


Is there a presentation I can review?

Chicago Department of Buildings Deputy Commissioner Grant Ullrich presented and discussed many of the changes in the updated CBC at two events in May, co-sponsored by AIA Chicago.

MAPS’s seminar differs by focusing on the changes in the code that most affect typical residential and office projects, and includes a code analysis workshop.

Additional presentations


What are some of the impacts of the updated CBC?

Changes in the modernized Chicago Building Code affect all kinds of residential, mixed-use, adaptive reuse, and other projects. For low-rise residential buildings, the updated CBC expands the use of exterior wood frame construction.

For mid-rise buildings there are new cold-formed metal framing parameters. For high-rise buildings there is a new wind tunnel testing requirement. There will be seismic requirements for all buildings.

Chicago didn't adopt some potentially more costly standards of the IBC, including pressurized stairs and fire-protected elevator lobbies.

Our seminar provides more detailed information and groups the changes by height, building type, and design aspects (including architectural basics, structural, fire & life safety, and means of egress).


Latest MAPS Updates about the Chicago building code

Photo taken by Steven Vance on May 5, 2018, showing Related Midwest’s 62-acre site at Roosevelt Road and Clark Street in the South Loop, and the Central Business District of Chicago behind it.