Getting started with permits

The Building Division of the Department of City Development administers City and State Building Codes and the City of Racine Zoning Ordinance. The services the Building Division provides assure the public that the properties, buildings and other structures they occupy are compliant with building and safety codes, are accessible, and are being occupied legally in accordance with the Zoning Ordinance.

The Building Division is often involved on the front end in helping business owners occupy new locations or in assisting existing businesses with expansions or remodeling of their properties. Once a business owner contacts the Building Division , an Inspector will review the proposal in order to determine a course of action regarding what types of information will be required. Building plans are often required to be submitted, but sometimes they are not, depending on the scope of the project. It is always recommended to contact the Building Division prior to purchasing materials or beginning any construction activities.

Occupancy Certificates must be obtained for all new businesses, changes of ownership, or business agent changes prior to occupying a building or property. An application is submitted and once the Inspector reviews the application and enters all of the necessary information into the computer system, an inspection will be scheduled for the Building, Electrical, Plumbing and Fire Inspectors to walk through the building. If code violations are found, the violations must be corrected prior to the Certificate of Occupancy being issued to the applicant. Inspections are scheduled from 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Certificates of Occupancy can be issued for a permanent occupancy, a 6 month occupancy, or for “Pop Ups” of to 3 months in duration.

Download Application for Occupancy Permit here

As an additional service, the Building Division also performs Courtesy Inspections to determine if a building is able to be occupied in its current condition or if work needs to be done. Appointments can be scheduled for a walk through of a building with Inspections staff.

Download Application for Courtesy Inspection form here

Not sure where to start? Questions?


Click the links below to find information about and download City of Racine building permits, electrical permits, plumbing permits and heating/air conditioning permits. Contact Building Inspections at 262-636-9464.

State of Wisconsin Permit Reviews

Plan Review and All Inspections: If your project is located in a listed municipality (the City of Racine is a listed municipality), and meets the size criteria, contact the municipality for plan review. Per SPS 361.60, the cities, villages and townships with this delegation are certified to review plans for:

  • New buildings containing less than 50,000 cu. ft. total volume;
  • Additions to existing buildings where the total volume after construction of the addition is less than 50,000 cu. ft.;
  • Additions to existing buildings containing no more than 2,500 sq. ft., no more than one floor level, 18-foot maximum roof span and 12-foot maximum exterior wall height; and
  • Alterations to existing building where the area of altered space is less than 100,000 cu. ft. of total volume.

The City of Racine is authorized to perform plan review as noted above and also do inspections of all buildings  and structures as an agent of the State, including those for which the State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) does the plan review.

Find a link to the DSPS Plan Review section here >>

Other helpful links:

This brochure from the International Code Council provides a summary of the purpose of building codes, plan review and permit issuance.  This information serves as an introduction to permitting, and it’s helpful if you don’t have experience working with the permit process.

Benefits of Building Permits >>

City of Racine Building Permit Totals 2003-2017 – Report

Building Permit Totals 2003 to 2017

List of Contractors Who Have Pulled Permits in the City of Racine

The Building Division maintains a list of the licensed contractors to whom it has issued permits to over the past several years. This list is for public information purposes only and the City does not endorse or recommend any contractors/businesses on the list. The information in the list was accurate at the time it was added, but not guaranteed that contractor information is current.

Listing of Contractors

Business Permits

There are cases where the State of Wisconsin requires information about your business. This may include things like obtaining a Tax Identification Number (TIN) and registering with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, or obtaining additional licenses or permits depending on the type of business you operate. For example, the State licenses barbers and cosmetologists, day cares, professional engineers, some food-related businesses, etc.

View the State of Wisconsin’s “One Stop Business Portal”:  State of Wisconsin Business Permits and Registration >>

Visit the Wisconsin Department of Revenue:  State of Wisconsin Department of Revenue Tax Filing and Registration >>


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