Before beginning construction on an addition to your home, there are several steps you will need to take to make sure your addition will be in compliance with local regulations regarding land and construction. Your proposed addition must meet zoning setback and yard requirements. If your home is a landmark, next to a landmark, or in an historic district, changes to it may require special review. Also in older houses, an addition may require electrical, heating and plumbing systems to be upgraded.

Process Overview

  1. Determine Zoning

    Before developing a parcel of land, you will need to determine if the parcel is zoned for your desired use or if there are any special development considerations for your project.

    Zoning will be able to tell you the zoning of the property or if there are any special considerations for your project. If your project requires special handling, our staff will inform you of the requirements and next steps.

    Find out the zoning for your property.

    Who to Contact

    Zoning at Building Permits: (608) 266-4551.

  2. Draw a Plan

    Consider these points when planning your addition:

    • City codes allow additions for almost any type of single family use. However, adding a second dwelling unit to a single family home is permitted only under certain circumstances.
    • Additions solely for a home occupation (home-based business) are not allowed. Home occupations are subject to special requirements. Ask Zoning staff about these requirements.
    • Houses and additions must be set back from all lot lines. This setback distance is determined by how your property is zoned. If the depth of your house from front to back is large, you may be required to increase the side yard setbacks. Again, Zoning staff will advise you if a special review and approval is needed.

    With these requirements in mind, you need to make a drawing (site plan) of your entire property with the location of the addition to show to Zoning staff. Follow the example plan provided, and draw a plan to scale. Using a scale of 1″=20′ usually works best. Show the measurements of the lot, house, addition and any other structures. Also show the distances from the house and addition to the lot lines.

  3. Review Plans

    Be sure to meet with Zoning staff at least a month or more before you apply for your construction permits. This will help you avoid delays when you want to start construction. Some types of additions need special review by a board or commission. These reviews usually require a fee and can add weeks to the review and approval process. Zoning staff will look at your plan and tell you if a special review is needed.

  4. Submit Building Plans

    Where to Go

    Madison Municipal Building

    Building Inspection Permit Counter by appointment only
    Madison Municipal Building
    215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd Suite 017
    Madison, WI 53703

    What to bring

    (Note: All plans are required to be drawn to scale)

    • Site Plan
    • Floor Plans
    • Elevation Views (Exterior Picture Views)
    • Cross Section View
    • Heat Loss Calculator for any new heated spaces
      (Use the ResCheck to calculate your heat loss.)

    Note: If your project cannot conform to building code, follow the variance procedure. See the Petition for Variance Application for more information. Please contact Building Inspection at (608) 266-4551 with any questions.

  5. Pay Fees

    After obtaining Zoning and Building Plan approval, either you or your contractor can apply for the building permit.

    You will need to pay for any plan review costs, building permits or other fees that may apply to your project.

    Where to Go

    Building Inspection
    215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd  Suite 017
    Madison, WI 53703

    Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30 am – 4:30 pm

    Once the plans have been reviewed and approved, the permit can be issued. If the plans have not been approved, new plans need to be submitted correcting the items listed in the withholding letter. Minor projects can be approved at the counter. More complex projects may take 10 – 15 business days to review.

  6. Get Permits

    When your plans are approved and your fees have been paid, the Building Inspection will issue the required permits for your project.

  7. Schedule Inspections

    Once the work permitted is completed, but before covering up or building over any permitted work, you will need to call and request an inspection. Inspections are required to ensure that all work was completed correctly. View required inspections.

    Call for an inspection request: (608) 266-4551.

  8. Completion

    After your final inspection, your project will be considered complete.

Related Forms & Handouts