Zoning Ordinance Changes for Garage Rooftop Decks
Posted July 19, 2017 at 3:26 pm


There is good news for those who have contemplated building a rooftop deck on their garage but put it off due the difficulties associated with permitting. For many years, the Chicago Zoning Ordinance restricted the construction of stairs in rear setbacks (backyards) which limited the ability for homeowners to receive Zoning approval required when building a rooftop deck. This section of the Chicago Zoning Ordinance essentially mandated homeowners to go through the variation process and present their proposed project to the Zoning Board of Appeals which required an enormous amount of time and legal fees in order to receive Zoning approval for their roof deck.

Last spring, the City Council adopted an amendment clarifying building and Zoning requirements related to private garages and rooftop decks. The ordinance is expected to significantly streamline the permitting process for homeowners seeking to build rooftop decks on private garages.

There is much more to this recently passed amendment which also incorporates several longstanding building code interpretations into the text of the building code, and clarifies several exiting and fire-resistive requirements related to features of rooftop decks. The section of the amendment most critical to homeowners intending to build a rooftop deck and access stair on their garage reads as follows: stairs are allowed in a rear or side setback provided the “stairs (unenclosed), providing access to a rooftop deck on an accessory building, with a stair case width not exceeding 4 feet, so long as the entire staircase abuts and is parallel to the wall of the accessory building.”

This does not solve all problems related to garage rooftop access but it is a huge improvement to the language of the Zoning Ordinance and does offer one method for homeowners to avoid the variation process and the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The amendment can be downloaded through the link below:


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