Building Rules

A press release from McHenry County:

McHenry County Department of Planning and Development Preparing For Spring Construction Season

Woodstock Willie may have predicted six more weeks of winter, but that hasn’t slowed the McHenry County Department of Planning and Development’s preparations for the spring construction season.

The department has spent the last several months updating its permit review procedures, application forms, and checklists with the intent of simplifying and accelerating the approval process for projects such as
Planning and Development Department heading

  • decks
  • porches
  • gazebos
  • pools
  • hot tub
  • agricultural exempt structures
  • other accessory structures

According to Director of Planning and Development Dennis Sandquist, “issuing permits quicker for these projects will allow applicants to get a faster start on their home improvement projects. It will also allow us to focus more staff resources on reviewing major construction projects such as new single-family homes and commercial construction.”

In addition to the new application forms and checklists, the biggest change that applicants will see in the department is the amount of time that staff will spend with them at the time of application.

A view of the Planning & Development Department offices from the second floor hall of the Administrative Building.

A view of the Planning & Development Department offices from the second floor hall of the Administrative Building.

According to Director Sandquist, “we are initiating an expanded permit check-in procedure to ensure that

  • permit applications
  • site plans
  • building plans

are complete before they are accepted.”

If applicants do not have the required information, they will be asked to return with the required information before the application is accepted.

As part of the new check-in procedure, staff will strive to complete the zoning and stormwater reviews at the front counter with the applicant.

According to Director Sandquist,

“Our goal is to let applicants know if they have any zoning restrictions or stormwater requirements before they leave our office. Of course, this won’t always be possible. Depending on the site, extensive zoning and stormwater analysis can be required. This is particularly true for properties located in or near floodplains or wetlands and properties where new impervious surface has been created since the Stormwater Management Ordinance was adopted in 2004.”

In most cases, permits for activities such as

  • re-siding
  • replacing a water heater
  • upgrading plumbing, electrical, or mechanical (HVAC) systems

will be issued the same day.

The department will also make every effort to issue

  • agricultural exempt structure construction cards and
  • permits for above-ground pools and decks

the same day.

Other permit types take longer to review depending on the number of permit applications and the complexity of the site and project.

The department’s goal is to complete the


  • stormwater
  • building plans review
  • on all permit applications within 10 business days.

According to Director Sandquist,

“Right now, we are meeting that standard. But as permit submittals pick up in the spring, review times will increase despite our best efforts. Persons looking to complete spring improvement projects are encouraged to submit their permit applications as soon as possible.”

To help address the seasonal variation in the number of permit applications, the county has created expedited

  • stormwater and
  • building permit review

processes for persons who need their permits as soon as possible.

With the expedited review processes, applicants pay the county’s outside engineering and building consultants to review their permit submittals. The county does not receive any additional fees for these services.

The county’s engineering consultants can begin expedited stormwater reviews within two-business days.

The county’s building consultants can complete building plan reviews in five to nine calendar days, depending on the level of service requested by the applicant.

New application forms and checklists for decks and gazebos; pools and hot tubs; agricultural exempt structures, and accessory structures are available on the Building Division website:

Additional application forms and checklists will be updated in the coming weeks. Information and applications for expedited stormwater and building plan reviews are also available on the website.

Any property owner with a question regarding building permitting is encouraged to contact the Department of Planning and Development by phone at (815) 334-4560 or by email at


Building Rules — 4 Comments

  1. I need a permit to replace a water heater?

    Give me a break, why does our county board not stop such nonsense?

  2. Be aware also that if you live in a floodplain you may have to pay approximately $300 to have a “stormwater review” regardless of the size of the structure you propose.

    This can apply to such things a pre fab storage sheds for your lawn equipment, or a plastic playhouse you buy at Menards.

    Also, if you are a farmer, you will have to pay $65 for each ag structure you put up, regardless of size, and notwithstanding that there is a state statute which prohibits the collection of fees for ag structures.

    This is again due to the Stormwater Ordincance and is why I voted against it three times.

  3. @Mike Walkup – at least the county got rid of the stormwater engineer who was running amok unchecked.

    There’s a trial ten days from now where the county is suing a homeowner for putting up a pole barn without a Stormwater permit or floodplain review.

    The problem is that the homeowner is in a Village that claimed they submitted the permit for review, and actually charged the homeowner a fee for the county stormwater review.

    The county instituted the complaint over two years after the pole barn was built.

    Now, some 5 years later it’s going to trial.

    How many hundreds of man hours and tens of thousands of dollars has the county spent on a suit that they can’t win, all to cover the stormwater engineer’s a$$?

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