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Chicago Department of Buildings announces code relief for affordable housing redevelopment

Chicago’s Department of Buildings says it has introduced new building code relief with flexibility on certain code requirements for residential rehab, including the electrical and energy codes as well as natural light and ventilation requirements for basements. The code clarifications are expected to reduce the cost of, and remove technical barriers to, the rehabilitation of residential buildings throughout Chicago.

“Through active discussion with stakeholders in the building and construction industry, the city determined three types of code clarifications that can help spur the redevelopment of affordable housing throughout our city without sacrificing safety,” Building Commissioner Judy Frydland said in a news release. “We are grateful to all our partners who came together to encourage the revitalization of our neighborhoods.”

Specific code relief includes:

  • Electrical code now allows the service disconnecting means to be located outside the unit serviced, and listed Flexible Metal Conduit (FMC), Armored Cable (AC) and Metal-Clad Cable (MC) may be permitted for use is some existing walls, partitions and ceilings.
  • Energy code is clarified as not to be unduly burdensome, i.e. does not require the replacement of existing building features which remain serviceable and only newly built portion in a renovation must comply with the new construction requirements of the Energy code.
  • Reduction of the current natural light and ventilation requirement of 8% and 4% in residential basements to 6% and 3%.

“We applaud Commissioner Frydland and the Department of Buildings for encouraging investment in Chicago communities,” Jack Markowski, president of Community Investment Corp. and chairman of The Preservation Compact said in a statement. “These clarifications will provide prudent relief to developers who rehab and preserve affordable rental housing throughout the city.”

The Department of Buildings issued 1,641 permits for single-family home renovations in 2014, 1,771 permits in 2015 and 2,075 in 2016.

Video: Saving Foreclosed Buildings (from The Preservation Compact).

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