Before beginning construction to change the number of dwelling units in your home, there are several steps you will need to take to ensure your alteration will be in compliance with local zoning and building regulations. Your proposed alteration must meet Zoning regulations. If your home is a landmark, in a local historic district, in a special district, or has specialized zoning, additional approvals may be required.

Process Overview

  1. Determine Zoning

    The first step to change the number of dwelling units in a 1 or 2 family home is to determine if the parcel is zoned for your desired use or if there are any special development considerations for your project. Your ability to change the number of dwelling units in your home is restricted by many factors, including the zoning of the property, the number of existing dwelling units and bedrooms in the building, the size of the lot, the amount of open (green) space on the lot, and the availability of parking on the property.

    Zoning staff will be able to tell you the zoning of the property and if there are any special conditions which will affect your project. Some of these alteration projects will require a special approval, such as conditional use approval from the Plan Commission, an alteration to an existing conditional use, or alteration to a PDSIP. Projects which require a special approval will be reviewed by various City agencies through the Parking Lot / Site Plan Review process. Zoning staff can guide you through this process. Additional information may be found by going to Land Development.

    Find out the zoning for your property.

    Who to Contact

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

  2. Draw a Plan

    What to Include
    • Site plan drawn to scale
    • Floor plan to scale
    • Any structural info, i.e. beams, headers, post joists, etc.
  3. Submit Building Plans

    Make sure that your site and floor plans are drawn to scale, and include any structural information, i.e. beams, headers, post joists, etc.

    Where to Go

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

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

    Phone: (608) 266-4551

    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.

  4. Pay Fees

    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 working days to review.

  5. Get Permits

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

  6. 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.

  7. Completion

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

Related Forms & Handouts