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Chicago Porch – Rebuilding of Porches – Correcting City of Chicago Porch Violations

Chicago porches have been occupying front pages of local newspapers for a while now. Associated with several accidental deaths and injuries, they became one of the most sought after structures the Chicago Building Department inspectors evaluate. The results of those inspections vary a lot but violations that require Chicago porch architectural drawings and complete porch rebuilding are very common.

Not sure if your Chicago porch requires rebuilding or repairs?

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Just like any other structural component of a building, porches must comply with the Chicago Building Code. No matter if these are only single story tall porches, wooden porches spreading over multiple floors, small, large, rear porches, or front porches, safety of anyone using them is equally important at any level.

We don’t like to be told what to do, especially if it’s going to cost us money, but that shouldn’t matter when safety of the building occupants and their lives are at stake. That’s why building inspectors are so persistent in their “code compliant Chicago porch” crusade.

If you had your porch constructed based on a porch architectural drawings, had a Chicago building permit issued and inspection performed / porch structure approved by the City of Chicago building inspector, you should be in a good shape. However, if you have an old porch that, to your knowledge, has never been examined by a professional, you should schedule an inspection by a professional as soon as possible.

The number of Chicago porch problems that can result in serious injury or even death is quite large. Even potentially small issues, sometimes difficult to spot with an inexperienced eye, can lead to life threatening situations.

For detail Chicago Porch Guidelines, click the button below.

This post covers only some of the Chicago Porch building code requirements, for all details you’d need to gain access to / purchase the Chicago Building Code available after clicking the button below.  

Customer Reviews of EDMAR Corporation

  • Antonio R. Avatar

    5 star rating Top Notch Masonry Contractor. Had a new Chimney rebuilt from the roof up.  The Crews were professional and we're  highly skilled tradesmen.  Reasonable price especially... read more

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    5 star rating I usually do a lot of research before I let someone touch my home. After talking to a few tuck pointing companies it was obvious... read more

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    Tom O. Avatar

    5 star rating I called Ed and he came within the same day and after careful examining the
    the chimney he gave his estimate which was very straight...
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    Very professional and great work on rebuilding my chimney. Recommend

    Don M.
    Emily R. Avatar

    5 star rating Highly recommend. Ed came out, gave us a quote and started our project all very quickly. His crew kept the area very clean and did... read more

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    Karen D. Avatar

    I had EDMAR repair my brick chimney a little while ago. The crew took apart everything above the roof, fixed the brown clay tube inside... read more

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    I got several quotes, Edmar was honest and priced very well. Their efficiency and neatness were most impressive, thanks for a great result!

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    Paul P. Avatar

    5 star rating Excellent work. Work was done in 2 days. Walkway was re pitched to align better with stoop (which showed large cracks at base where walkway... read more

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    3 star rating I would give closer to 3 1/2 stars if I could.  I was pleased with the work that was completed.  I had 4 other companies... read more

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    5 star rating Edmar Corporation Masonry was contracted for three projects on an industrial building in the City. The first project was to rebrick part of a doorway... read more

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    Maciek G. Avatar

    Greta People to do Business with ! Quality and fair price for Top Quality. I did Parapet wall fix and new concrete steps. They also... read more

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    5 star rating I needed some tuckpointing done on a condo I manage in Chicago and called Edmar for a quote through a mutual friend that had used... read more

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    I haven’t been so excited in my live, the work is finally done! For the past five days I had a crew of 5 working... read more

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    Allison W. Avatar

    EDMAR came to replace 35 feet of sidewalk by my house. They busted old concrete one day and poured new sidewalk next. NICE JOB.

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    O A. Avatar

    5 star rating Edmar did some work for our condo building.  He gave us an honest quote for the work that needed to be done, and did not... read more

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    By far the most professional and highly skilled company I've worked with.
    I had a chimney taken down and rebuilt from the roof line up. ...
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    Meltem A. Avatar

    Edmar cooporation build a new porch for our condo association. They were very professional, kept their promises. Very quick great work friendly and professional service.... read more

    Meltem A.
    Elizabeth S. Avatar

    5 star rating We had a wonderful experience with Edmar. We needed a level of brick and capstone removed from our rooftop - the job was completed in... read more

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    Excellent experience from Edmar from start to finish! From the first estimate, I enjoyed the experience of working with Ed and his team. They rebuilt... read more

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    Jeff G. Avatar

    It's always frightening to undertake a project that requires dismantling the infrastructure of your home. Thus, it was no different with me when I asked... read more

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    Last December we experienced some serious problems at our condo building. Many widows from 3rd floor units were leaking water along their top frames. We... read more

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  • Lara M. Avatar

    I own 3 story rental in Chicago and got building violation ticket for the rear porch… this was last summer. The porch was old and... read more

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    Dema D. Avatar

    5 star rating I decided to hire Edmar based on excellent Yelp reviews and I was not disappointed. The work I hired him for was to repair my... read more

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    5 star rating I am a case manager who works with people with disabilities and one of my clients needed her roof repaired due to a big hole... read more

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    They rebuilt my parapet wall quickly for a reasonable price! The wall looks great. I'm very satisfied with their work and customer service!!

    A G.
    David D. Avatar

    5 star rating Without question the best experience I have ever had with any contractor, Ed is direct and honest; no surprises. I rarely write reviews unless I... read more

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    4 star rating I couldn't be happier with Edmar corporation.  He gave me a quote on the extensive brick work my 2 flat needed. It was a fair... read more

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  • Aida A. Avatar

    Our condo association hired Edmar Corporation to do some much needed repairs on our building. It came to our attention that there were leaks on... read more

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    Kevin K. Avatar

    The owner, Ed, was awesome to work with. Genuinely nice guy, honest and a true professional in his craft. We had some extensive masonry work... read more

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    Peter L. Avatar

    Great service.

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  • Gene P. Avatar

    5 star rating We had some cracks in the masonry on our building, it wasn't a big job but Ed came by to take a look anyway. Compared... read more

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    Bri C. Avatar

    Our condo association will definitely be hiring Edward and his company again this year. They completed two projects for us, some tuckpointing and brickwork on... read more

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    Jargren S. Avatar

    5 star rating I just have to say the work, the crew,  and Ed were wonderful. Their quality of work and maintaining the job site in an orderly... read more

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    5 star rating So happy. These guys were fast and friendly and clean. I collected many quotes. Edmar Corporation was the lowest $ with the highest rating in... read more

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    5 star rating Truly one of the most honest men I have ever met.  Me and my family will be using and recommending Ed for all our masonry... read more

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    5 star rating We have a small house.  Sometimes it feels like tradesmen are not very interested in taking our business.  However, Ed made me feel like a... read more

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  • Brett S. Avatar

    5 star rating These guys did a great job on my chimney.  Punctual and fast.  Would hire them again in a heartbeat!

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    5 star rating I used Edmar Corporation a few years ago to fix up my home in the north suburbs and was very pleased with their work. I... read more

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    Edmar Corporation did a great job fixing several problems with my 100 plus year old beautiful greystone. Edmar and his partner help me resolve difficult... read more

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    5 star rating Peter and crew were very professional and did an excellent job installing a new sliding glass door for us. The install included fixing some siding... read more

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    Maciek G. Avatar

    Greta People to do Business with ! Quality and fair price for Top Quality.

    Maciek G.
    Melissa H. Avatar

    5 star rating This company fixed some stairs for a customer of mine.  They were quick to contact customer as it was a closing issue contigent on this... read more

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  • A G. Avatar

    I am a case manager who works with people with disabilities and one of my clients needed her roof repaired due to a big hole... read more

    A G.
    Rick B. Avatar

    5 star rating We had several issues to address, including retaining walls, parging, tuckpointing and replacing old lintels.  Ed came out to review and estimate, was very thorough... read more

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    S K. Avatar

    5 star rating If it were possible to give more than 5 stars, I would!  We had to reconstruct our brick and wrought iron fence after the garbage... read more

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  • Tania M. Avatar

    5 star rating Edmar Corp replaced the front brick of our property this summer. Not only did Ed provide us a reasonable estimate but he was patient while... read more

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    Andy W. Avatar

    5 star rating These guys came thru. After some problems getting the work completed they came back out and finished the work as well as some additional brick... read more

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    Karolina Avatar

    This company and its owner were a pleasure to work with. We needed some masonry repairs on our single family home in Lincoln Park and... read more

  • A G. Avatar

    Edmar is the most professional construction with many skilled workers in Chicago area, as long as I know. If your priority is choosing a... read more

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    Clara S. Avatar

    5 star rating I had Edmar Corporation do work on my house in Glenview in the summer of 2012, and I was very satisfied with their services.  Ed... read more

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    Dan P. Avatar

    5 star rating I had Edmar rebuild a portion of my parapet wall.  I had gotten quite a few recommendations and estimates from different local companies.  Ed and... read more

    Dan P.
  • Matt M. Avatar

    Edmar is the best in the business. I’ve owned buildings in the city for a while now and I’m telling you there’s no one more... read more

    Matt M.
    Linda Q. Avatar

    5 star rating My husband and I bought a foreclosure on Newcastle and needed to do some work. In order to attain inside look of the kitchen we... read more

    Linda Q.

Let’s take a look at just a few building code requirements for the Chicago porches that affect safety of their occupants.

Chicago porch footings by EDMAR Corporation

Chicago wooden porch rebuilding – concrete pedestal example

Chicago Porch Footings

Just like your house requires foundation, the same principal applies to a porch as well. Without proper footings under walls, columns, or piers, the entire porch load would not be properly distributed. Shifting the porch’s load onto one side, because of the faulty foundation, could have catastrophic consequences.

Porches come in different sizes, and their footings sizes must be proportional, positioned in such way that guarantees proper distribution of weight and minimizes possibility of uneven settlement of the entire structure.

Also, your patio and sidewalks cannot be used to support structure of a porch. Freezing – thawing cycle during the cold season causes ground to expand and contract.

Whatever is supported on a few inches thick concrete slab, will move up and down, sometimes by 2”-3”. Heavier porches resting on such “foundation/slab” will crack it and could tilt, slide off / separate from the building structure, and even collapse. Chicago climate forces us to dig deeper holes for footings in order to alleviate problems associated with that freezing – thawing cycle, and to ensure that they can support up to 3 story tall Chicago porch structures.

Chicago porch footings / depth requirement and materials

All Chicago porch footings must extend at least 42” (3 feet and six inches) below the surrounding ground surface. There is an exception from this requirement (  – CHAPTER 13-132 FOUNDATIONS 18(13-132-100) FOOTINGS – DEPTH REQUIREMENTS) that applies to single story buildings only.

The Chicago porch foundation footings should be constructed using:

  1. solid masonry material
  2. reinforced concrete
  3. or plain (without reinforcement) concrete (details in CHAPTER 13-132 FOUNDATIONS 18(13-132-110) FOOTINGS – CONSTRUCTION).
Single story Chicago front porch building by EDMAR Corporation

Chicago front porch construction – single story porches

Chicago Porch Material – Pressure Treated Lumber – Wolmanized

To clear the confusion, we have two definitions for the type of wood (Pressure Treated Lumber / Wolmanized) normally used when building Chicago porches.


Also known as “treated lumber” or “Wolmanized Lumber”. The wood treatment process involves injecting the wood cells with various chemical mixtures capable of destroying / killing micro-organisms and variety of insects. The injected mixture slows down decaying process and significantly prolongs lifespan of pressure treated wood to approximately 10-20 years.  

This lifespan doesn’t sound correct? Well… it is different from what the manufacturers put on labels (25-50 years) and varies considerably. For us, taking into the equation Chicago weather, it will probably be closer to 10-20 years.


Refers to the same type of wood, pressure treated, but it’s a trade name.

Chicago Porch Guardrails / Safeguards / Handrails

Chicago porch rebuilding, guardrails, safeguards, handrails, by EDMAR Corporation

Chicago Porch Guardrails / Safeguards / Handrails

Chicago porch guardrails are required everywhere we can potentially fall of the porch, so:

  1. At all edges of every space such as floors, balconies, mezzanines, and other areas used or anticipated to be used by human occupancy more than two feet above any surface directly below. The only exception would be loading platforms installed 2’ and more above ground.
  2. At all windows or doorways that have a sill installed 24 inches or less above the floor level of a room or area.

One exception, that last requirement doesn’t apply if such window or doorway opens directly above the following surfaces:

Ground | Pavement | Guarded space

and when their level is less than two feet below the sill of such window or doorway or unless the construction of the such window or doorway serves the same purpose.

  1. At all sides of every open areaway deeper than 3’ excluding the side that opens or provides access to a stairway.

Porch Handrails  

All porch stairways must have walls, railings, or guards, and handrails installed on both sides with 3 exceptions (please check the Porch Guidelines link and the Chicago Building Code for details – CHAPTER 13-160 EXIT REQUIREMENTS 10(13-160-320) STAIRWAYS – HANDRAILS)  

Porch Guardrail Types

“Porch guardrails” come in various flavors, depending on the porch’s design; a wall, balustrade, grill or railing at least 42” tall, area grating, or other approved device, can be treated as a guardrail.

With the Chicago porch guardrails we also have one exception: For single-family and two-family dwellings, and within individual dwelling units in other Class A-2 occupancies which are primarily permanent in nature, guards whose top rail also serves as a handrail shall have a height of not less than 34 inches and not more than 38 inches, measured vertically from the leading edge of the stair tread nosing. 

Chicago porch building code requirement openings in guards, balusters or ornamental patterns, EDMAR Corporation

Chicago porch building code requirement – openings in guards, balusters or ornamental patterns.

Chicago Porch Permitted Openings in Guards

This Chicago porch building code requirement applies to openings in guards, so balusters or any type of ornamental patterns. You can easily verify if your Chicago porch complies with this requirement by using a 4”, 6”, and 8” diameter spheres / balls.

There are 3 areas where you can test compliance:

  • Four inch diameter ball cannot pass through any of the openings in guards up to 34” high from the adjacent walking surfaces
  • Eight inch diameter ball cannot pass through any opening in guards between 34” and 42” above adjacent walking surfaces
  • Six inch diameter ball cannot pass through the triangular openings that are formed by the tread, riser, and the bottom rail along the open side of a stairway.

There are a few exceptions so please check the Chicago Porch Design Guidelines for details.

Treads and Risers - Porch Building by EDMAR Corporation

Treads and Risers – Chicago Porches by EDMAR Corporation

Chicago Porch Stair Risers and Treads

RISER is a vertical stair component made up of a board closes the space between any two treads or tread and a landing. The rise is the vertical dimension between each tread and it must be consistent between all of the treads in a flight of stairs.

TREAD is a horizontal stair component that we step upon to go up or down between the levels. The rise is the vertical dimension between each tread. The consistency of width of all treads and height of all risers must not vary within any flight of stairs.

Chicago porch stair risers and treads should have specific and uniform dimensions so we don’t trip when walking up or down. The maximum height of a riser should not exceed 8”. The minimum depth of a tread (without nosing) should be 9”, and at least 10” with a nosing.

Contact us for Complete Chicago Wood Porch Building Service and Help with Correcting Chicago Porch Related Violations

Call 1-847-724-5600

All Estimates are Always FREE for property owners.

  • Preparation of Chicago Porch architectural drawings.
  • Obtaining of required work permits at the City of Chicago Department of Buildings.
  • Meetings with City of Chicago Inspectors for any interim inspections required by the city regarding the violations.
  • Assistance in any administrative or court hearings regarding the violations.
  • Assistance until the City of Chicago determines the violations have been closed.
  • Single – Two – 3 Story porch rebuilding and repairs.
  • Front porches – Rear porches – Wrap-around porches.
  • Construction of stairs and decks.