Contact Us

Judy Frydland Wants to Get Your Project in the Pipeline Faster


Judy Frydland hit the ground running when she was named Chicago’s new buildings commissioner in May, and is working to smooth the process getting construction projects from permit to pipeline. Hear Judy at Bisnow's 7th Annual State of the Market, at the JW Marriott, Oct. 29, at 7am.

The Department of Buildings has issued over 29,000 building permits as of Aug. 31, a 2.2% increase over the same time period last year. Everyone filing a building permit wants to see an expedited process, and Judy has established an open door policy to address the issues of developers. Judy tells Bisnow she wished she had enough hours in the day to meet with all the developers, contractors and anyone else involved with the building process, both commercial and residential.

Judy says her department is proposing new reforms that will reduce the time to issue building permits by one week and increase transparency. Design professionals may now certify plan corrections for fire and structural corrections. The annual inspection certification (AIC) program was expanded to include high-rises that have passed their most recent inspections in the past two years. Field inspections are being modernized through ongoing Hansen upgrades, further automating inspections internally and in the field. The Buildings Department is also hiking building permit fees for the first time since 1999. Judy says the costs for permit review and issuance increased 75% over the last decade, and are projected to go up another 25% in the next three years. The proposed permit fee increase will bring Chicago’s fee structure more in line with other large cities, tracks with labor costs without sacrificing safety, and shifts the burden of building permit costs from all taxpayers to building owners, contractors and developers pulling permits for renovation and new construction. For example, a permit for a $1M project in Los Angeles would cost at least $4,147, plus additional fees. In Chicago, that same permit can cost as little as $1k.

Another popular move Judy made was bringing back deputy commissioner Asif Rahman (pictured), who resigned in May. Asif, who is in charge of reviewing construction permits, is well-respected by developers and aldermen, with a reputation for finding common-sense solutions to building code issues. Judy says she's working with Asif, department staff and industry partners to look for building code updates to reflect new technologies. She notes that engineers and architects are problem solvers, and that same philosophy holds true with her department.

As for what other building code reforms will entail, Judy says it's too early to tell. She has formed a committee with the American Institute of Architects' Chicago chapter and other industry partners (shown, Judy with KIG principal and managing broker Susan Tjarksen at a Lincoln Park Builders of Chicago function) to determine those reforms. To learn more, please attend Bisnow's 7th Annual State of the Market, at the JW Marriott, Oct. 29, at 7am. Register here.