Steps to Success

Building an ADU is a major project that typically involves professionals such as an architect and a general contractor. However, keep your eye on the goal and embrace this as your project! 

Step One

Step One

Research

Multiple types of Additional Dwelling Units (ADU) are covered under the Chicago ordinances. The type of ADU allowed may depend on the zone of the city where the residence is located. Another consideration when deciding what type of ADU to build is the age of the residence when converting a basement or attic space.

Step Two

Step Two

Submit Application

Applying with the City of Chicago for an ADU is a two-step process. The first step is to fill out an application. During this process, the City determines if you qualify for the ADU program. Then, once you are approved for the program, you can apply for a building permit with the Department of Buildings.

Step Three

Step Three

Engage A Trusted Professional

Always hire licensed professionals when constructing or converting a residence. Property owners are required to submit plans prepared by licensed structural engineers or architects.  Plumbing, electrical and masonry work must be completed using permits obtained by licensed contractors.  Plans and permits for an ADU are submitted to the Department of Buildings.

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Step Four

Step Four

Secure Financing if Necessary

Prior to starting construction, be sure to secure all financing for the proposed ADU project. Assistance is available for selected low to moderate income homeowners through the ADU Neighborhood Lending Program. Additional assistance may also be available for units that qualify as an ADA accessible ADU.

Step Five

Step Five

Feasibility & Design

During the ADU design phase, there are many elements to consider. Additional parking is not mandatory, but existing parking may not be removed. The number of units allowed depends on the existing number of legal units already located on the property. An attic or basement conversion is restricted to dwellings that are at least 20 years old. A unit design that is considered ADA accessible adds financing options as well as marketability.

Step Six

Step Six

Receive Permit Approval

All plans are required to be approved by the Department of Housing. Additional approval may be required through the Department of Planning and Development to verify zoning issues and confirm legally established units. Building permits are issued through the Department of Buildings once plans are approved.  

Step Seven

Step Seven

Construction

Once all plans and permits have been approved and received, all regulations have been met,  financing has been secured, and you have received construction approval from the city, construction of an ADU can begin. Homeowners and residents should remain steadily aware of safety conditions in and around the construction area during the process.

Step Eight

Step Eight

Final Inspection

Once construction is complete, you’ll need to schedule a final inspection with the Department of Buildings.

Step Nine

Step Nine

Move in!

After a successful final inspection, the newly created residence could be ready for move in. Whether bringing members of a family closer together or generating additional income, with careful planning, a new ADU could bring new opportunities to your whole family.

ADUs

Ready To Get Started?

You can begin the application process to add an ADU to your property.

Let's Work
Together

Whether you’re interested in building your own ADU or you want to join AARP Illinois in bringing the ADU option to more communities across Illinois, we’d love to hear from you.
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