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ADU permits trickling in spring 2022

Published on Mar. 16, 2022 by Steven Vance

Updated on Apr. 4, 2022

Updated 4/4/22 to add a missing ADU permit and recalculate the statistics.

Here’s a quick update for you about accessory dwelling units in Chicago for spring 2022:

  • 38 permits have been issued, to add 44 new dwelling units. A 39th permit was issued to legalize an existing basement dwelling unit, for 45 units.
  • Of the 39 permits, 11 are for backyard and coach houses (which can only have one unit each).
  • Of the 28 interior ADU permits, 100 percent are for basement units.
  • The Chicago Dept. of Housing has approved 258 pre-applications representing 291 dwelling units. (Subtracting the 44 permitted units that gives us 246 units that have yet to receive building permit applications. We don’t know which of those have even entered the building permit process.)
  • Of those 291 units: 204 are for interior ADUs and 87 units in backyard and coach houses.
Two coach houses under construction in the North ADU Pilot Area.

Do you want to add an accessory dwelling unit to your property? There are a few basic requirements (all of which can be revisited in our ADU Portal):

  1. Your property must be in one of the five ADU pilot areas. Check address.
  2. Basement heights must be 7' from finished floor to finished ceiling or the height will have to be increased.
  3. Your option is between an interior apartment and a coach house. The ADU ordinance doesn’t allow a property to have both, but there is a way to see if your property has #UnusedZoningCapacity.

Statistics continue below

  • The average number of permitted ADU units for the group of 39 properties is 1.21 units (this is probably not an informative number). Most permits are for one unit; one permit is for four new units and three permits are for two units each.
  • 29 of the 39 permits had a reported processing time: the average time from submission to the Dept. of Buildings to issuance was 66.5 days; the median time was 51.5 days.
  • Five permits took more than 100 days and two took more than 200 days to be issued. The processing time stat reported by DOB doesn’t break down the time spent with the applicant — working on revisions — and time spent with staff reviewers.
  • The Chicago Cityscape ADU Service Provider directory has 49 architects (identifying which ones have self-cert status), general contractors, engineers, developers, manufacturers, and consultants.
  • Seven of the 39 permits had self-certified architects, and processing time was not reported. Self-cert permits are often issued within a few days.
  • Costs: If the reported estimated cost is taken at face value, the average cost of a basement unit’s construction is $97.766 (considering the 28 permits for 44 basement units). The median cost (per unit) is $75,000, while the lowest cost is $25,000 and the highest cost is $250,000.
  • The most expensive project is adding four units.
  • The second most expensive project, $250,000, is for one basement ADU but other renovations in the building including adding a third bedroom to the existing six units. The other projects that are above average also appear to be doing non-ADU renovations.
  • Costs for coach houses: The average reported cost of a coach house is $144,816. I think this is unreasonable in the current market (considering both labor and materials, as well as unexpected costs) and that I expect many coach house owners to report at least $100,000 more once all costs are tallied.

ADU permits trickling in spring 2022 was originally published in Chicago Cityscape’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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