Getting started with permits

The Building Department administers City and State Building Codes and the City of Racine Zoning Ordinance. The services the Department 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 Department 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 Department, 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 Department prior to purchasing materials or beginning any construction activities.

Occupancy Permits are required for all new businesses, changes of ownership or business agent changes. An application is submitted and once the Inspector reviews the application, the City will issue a Certificate of Occupancy which verifies that a property or building or property is in compliance with all current Building and Zoning codes. A Certificate of Occupancy must be applied for and issued by the City prior to occupying a building or property. Occupancy Permits 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 Inspections Department 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

Some building projects are required to be reviewed by the State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). The City of Racine Building Department will determine if your project can be reviewed by City staff or if it must go to DSPS for plan review. While most building projects that occur in the City are typically reviewed by City staff, the State of Wisconsin requires projects related to such things as buildings in excess of 50,000 cubic feet, health care facilities and swimming pools to be submitted to DSPS for 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 is a good 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 City of Racine Building Department 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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