County Board members weigh in on what should need a building permit

By Steve Balich October 2017  

Call the Will County Board 815-740-4626 and give your opinion

People would never think they need to get a building permit to replace a shut off valve, but they do. Most people replace old doors by going to Home Depot, Menards, or Lowes to buy a new door which is most always better than the old one they are replacing. Will County  Land Use staff say an improper door is unsafe and needs a building permit t.  They use the “safety” word like it is their duty to protect people from themselves. People are smart enough to hire someone or get someone who knows how to do the repair if they can’t do it themselves. The only thing a permit does is to raise the cost of doing the repair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If the structure of the building is not changed by the repair there should be no need for a permit. I brought forward the question to discuss which specific items should no longer require a building permit. Will County Land Use does not agree with anything that takes away money or work from their department, even if it is better for the citizen.

Debbie Militello said there is nothing worse than getting up & getting in the shower only to be hit in the face with cold water. Your water heater just died and you need a new one. Wait…  according to Will County Land building code you need a permit before the new water heater can be installed, and what if it’s the weekend. The above scenario is wrong and I will fight to change it.

Mark Ferry said all repairs at ground level should not require a building permit.

Gretchen Fritz: “Many of these types of repairs and replacements are done by the homeowners themselves; a big motivation for that is to keep the costs down. Requiring permits for routine maintenance adds to total project cost and negatively impacts the homeowner’s ability to limit costs.”

Darren Bennefield: “Your home is one of your biggest investments, and naturally you want to protect it. We can trust residents to do what is best for their own homes.”

Jim Moustis  “We need building permits to make sure projects are done correctly, but there is no reason to require permits for routine repair and maintenance.”

Charles “Chuck” Maher “Keeping an eye on the bureaucracy is the role of the elected official. Part of that over site is ensure that our citizens are protected but not over regulated.”
Mike Fricilone “ I understand the purpose of building permits which is to make sure all work is done to current code. We do however need to address over regulation and added cost to merely doing a repair or maintenance to a property. Some people don’t even know they need a permit and others may not do the maintenance or repair because of the added cost of the permit.”

When we talk about repair and maintenance items that should be excluded from needing a permit It is my contention that most anything that does not change the structure should be exempt. The Will County Assessor lists such items as not qualifying as an improvement such as: Siding, Doors, Plumbing, Solar energy, Cabinets, Counters, Windows, heating, flooring, above ground pools, roofs except the HIE application.


Any repair work performed to prolong or maintain the condition of an existing of an existing structure should not require a permit.

More Specific examples:

  1. Fences that are no more than 6 feet high.
  2. Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height measured from the lowest level of grade to the top of the wall unless the wall supports a surcharge.
  3. Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1.
  4. Sidewalks and driveways that are 30 inches or less above adjacent grade and not placed over a basement or story below it.
  5. Exterior or interior painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, flooring, cabinets, counter tops and similar finishing work.
  6. Prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches deep.
  7. Swings and other playground equipment accessory to a one- or two-family dwelling.
  8. Window awnings supported by an exterior wall which do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and do not require additional support.
  9. Replacement of glass in any window or door. The replacement glass shall comply with the minimum requirements of the International Residential Code.
  10. Installation and replacement of a window, door, garage door, storm window and storm door in the same opening if the dimensions or framing of the original opening are not altered. The installation of means of egress and emergency escape windows may be made in the same opening, without altering the dimensions or framing of the original opening if the required height, width or net clear opening of the previous window or door assembly is not reduced.
  11. Replacement of existing roof material that does not exceed 25% of the total roof area performed within any 12-month period.
  12. Replacement of existing siding.
  13. Repair or replacement of any part of a porch or stoop which does not structurally support a roof located above the porch or stoop.
  14. Installation of additional roll or batt insulation.
  15. Replacement of exterior rain water gutters and leaders.
  16. Installation of an uncovered deck where the floor of the deck is no more than 30 inches above grade.
  1. Minor electrical work for the following:
    1. Replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles
    2. Replacement of a receptacle, switch or lighting fixture rated at 20 amps or less and operating at less than 150 volts to ground with a like or similar item. This does not include replacement of receptacles in locations where ground-fault circuit interrupter protection is required.
    3. Replacement of installed electrically operated equipment such as doorbells, communication systems and any motor operated device.
    4. Installation, alteration or rearrangement of communications wiring.
    5. Replacement of dishwashers.
    6. Replacement of kitchen range hoods.
    7. Installation of battery-powered smoke detectors.
  2. The following gas work:
    1. Portable heating, cooking or clothes drying appliances.
    2. Replacement of a minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make this equipment unsafe.
    3. A portable fuel cell appliance that is not connected to a fixed piping system and is not interconnected to a power grid.
  3. (4) The following mechanical work or equipment:
    1. A portable heating appliance.
    2. Portable ventilation appliances.
    3. A portable cooling unit.
    4. Steam, hot or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment governed under the Uniform Construction Code.
    5. Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make the equipment unsafe.
    6. Self-contained refrigeration systems containing 10 pounds or less of refrigerant or that are put into action by motors 1 horsepower.
    7. Portable evaporative cooler.
    8. A portable fuel cell appliance that is not connected to a fixed piping system and is not interconnected to a power grid.
  4. (5) The following plumbing work:
    1. Replacement of bib valves if the replacement hose bib valves are provided with an approved atmospheric vacuum breaker.
    2. Refinishing of existing fixtures.
    3. Replacement of ball cocks.
    4. Repair of leaks.
    5. Clearance of stoppages.
    6. Replacement of faucets or working parts of faucets.
    7. Replacement of valves other than shower or combination shower/bath valves.
    8. Replacement of traps.
    9. Replacement of a water closet, lavatory or kitchen sink.
    10. Replacement of domestic clothes washers and dishwashers.
  5.  The following heating, ventilation and air conditioning work:
    1. Replacement of motors, pumps and fans of the same capacity.
    2. Repair and replacement of heating, supply and return piping and radiation elements which do not require rearrangement of the piping system.
    3. Repair and replacement of duct work.
    4. Repair and replacement of air conditioning equipment and systems.
    5. Repair and replacement of control devices for heating and air conditioning equipment.
    6. Replacement of kitchen range hoods.
    7. Replacement of clothes dryers if there is no change in fuel type, location or electrical requirements.
    8. Replacement of stoves and ovens if there is no change in fuel type, location or electrical characteristics.
  6. A permit is not required for the installation, alteration or repair of generation, transmission, distribution, metering or other related equipment that is, by established right, under the ownership and control of a public utility as the term “public utility” is defined in 66 Pa.C.S. § 102 (relating to the definitions).

Building code discussion at 39:56

Support the Will County News when you shop on Amazon