Can anyone recommend someone to build a rooftop deck in Chicago. I keep getting mixed answers from

Asked by Cintia, Logan Square, Chicago, IL Wed Apr 9, 2008

contractors over the phone on whether it can be done or not. I see them all over the place on old buildings and this would be in a new construction two it really a bad idea? any advice will be appreciated.

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James, Home Owner, Chicago, IL
Fri Mar 30, 2012
Before you start talking about ideas or what to do stop. I found a small architectural firm in Chicago that is so helpful. They know all the up to date codes. They can provide drawings containing all the proper details the city is looking for. They have a great list of licensed contractors who can give you bids. 360 Design Group is a one stop shop. They came out gave me free advice, provided me with drawings and got me my permit. No problems. They referred a contractor who did a wonderful job. I recommend them highly for regular decks new or repairing violations as well. 360 Design Group is awesome. Ask for Bob Link or Frank Levato. Call them at 312-842-2225 or email them it Get a hold of them I promise you cannot go wrong.
2 votes
I'm not sure if they can or not. If you're getting mixed answers from contractors, I would go with what the majority of them are saying. This will probably give you the best answer and idea. Good luck with whatever you decide!
Flag Mon Dec 15, 2014
Inspector Mi…, , Plainfield, IL
Thu Apr 10, 2008
Your first call should be to your alderman. The alderman will be consulted before any rooftop deck building permit will be issued, so start there. Assuming it's approved, you'll need an architect to design it and a reputable contractor to build it. I agree with Marek, that Zee's Group seems to do good work.
1 vote
Accurate Ins…, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Wed Mar 28, 2012
There are essentially two ways to put on a roof top deck. The 'lets do what we want and hope it all works out'' way and the legitimate, compliant way.
Of course you see lots of roof top decks around. Whether all of them are compliant or not is another matter. Unless your neighbors call on you, the City probably won't notice. Nonetheless there are serious considerations.
If this deck is for you and a friend or two to sit around drink coffee and yak about life, no big deal and nothing will probably ever happen. Do what you want. However, reality usually doesn't work like that. More and more friends show up, you have a party, put kegs and large plants on the roof, next thing you know there is some real weight up there. Since this is a NC building you'll need to establish what type of trusses were used for the roof and how much top load they can handle. The type of existing roofing material also needs to be figured out. Typically people need to either install additional roofing or suspend the deck over the roof, not on it.
Going the legitimate route will require plans and permits by the City. Plans will need to be done by an architect. Depending on existing building conditions its sometimes easier and cheaper to build a new structure over the existing roofing (I beams run into the parapets).
Typical requirements include egress path, guardrails and load rating. Depending on proximity to adjacent building fire separation may also come into play. Without a Spec sheet or Plans for contractors to bid off of you will continue to get varied answers.
A note of caution, the cheaper bids usually includes the contractor nailing everything down. You should NOT consider this acceptable. Everything should be screwed or bolted. Any perceived upfront savings will disappear if the roof needs to be serviced and nailed components need to come up.
0 votes
Decker Home…, Other Pro, Skokie, IL
Tue Mar 27, 2012
If you build a roof deck on a flat roof, you void the warranty of the roof covering and ruin the drainage of the roof and increase the cost of replacing the roof by 3 times. Sorry, but thems the facts.
0 votes
I disagree with Will, thems simply aint the facts. Many material manufacturers have provisions for roofs to be used as decks. Look at the LiveRoof & Versico Partnership. There is a warranted specification for the placement of a modular garden and modular pavers upon the roofing assembly.

I am a roofing contractor, the contractor Reliable American who posted a reply on July 26th 2010 below. We are currently bidding to install a roofing system on a 16 story condomium on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. The roof has 3 sections and each section is currently, and will be again, used as a deck. I have discussed this with 3 different manufacturers and each one has made recommendations for proper assembly of the roofing system so that the deck does not in any way damage the roof thus void the warranty.

Furthermore if the deck is constructed properly it will not adversely affect the drainage. As I previously posted, building a deck on the roof is nothing like building a deck on the ground.
Flag Sat Mar 31, 2012
Reliable Ame…, , Glenview, IL
Mon Jul 26, 2010
Building a deck on the ground or a patio is nothing like building a deck for a roof. What's more important than the deck is the roof, and what's most commonly overlooked is the roof. Put an expensive deck on a cheap roof and watch that deck get ripped up in a few years to fix the cheap roof.

This is why I wrote the informative article "Chicago roof Decks - What you Need to Know." The link is below. It explains alot of the common problems I see as a roofer fixing roofs beneath decks in the Chicago area.
0 votes
Rafaello19, , Chicago, IL
Thu Mar 11, 2010
Yes, few months ado I did my deck on top of the porch in Chicago the people who I hired was a team from XTREME Remodeling they do all kinds of construction things for example rooftop decks that`s their side they did the perfect job for fair price and on time. They were always one step ahead of me!
0 votes
Liboboli, , Chicago, IL
Wed May 6, 2009
Call 360 Design Group, They are a small architectural firm that specializes in roof decks, rear decks, and building voilations. They will come out to your property and give you free advice. They are a gem when it comes to decks. Quit talking to contractors and talk to design professionals. They will provide you with permit / construction drawings that meet the city requirements and even expedite your permit.
These guys are top notch! Not only did they help me, but many other people I know.
Ask for Bob or Frank, they were really extremely helpful. I cannot express how good this firm is.
Their office number is 312-842-2225 or email them at or
0 votes
Alan Nitzkin, , 60630
Fri Apr 25, 2008
lakeside Exteriors will build roof top decks, they have architects on staff call Alan Nitzkin 224-723-6636
0 votes
Inspector Ge…, , Chicago, IL
Fri Apr 11, 2008
Here is some information on roof deck requirements. Hope this helps...

Roof Decks on Primary Buildings

Building a roof deck requires a Building Permit. A roof deck must be designed to meet the structural and architectural requirements of the Chicago Building Code and plans are required. These plans must be prepared by a Licensed in Illinois Architect or Structural Engineer.…
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0 votes
Sheldon Saln…, , Chicago, IL
Fri Apr 11, 2008
Before you do anything, are there two separate stairs to the roof or ladders? If you are going to build a roof deck that is legal you need to have two exits. Keep in mind that if a fire were to start on the roof, the city code requires a second way of exiting the roof deck. This is the reason many new construction builders will not provide a roof top deck before the unit closes. They are concerned about city inspectors.

Although you may see many roof decks in the city that do not fulfill this requirement, bottom line, they are not built to code.
0 votes
Ken Dooley, Agent, Chicago, IL
Fri Apr 11, 2008

I would start by talking to an Architect. They're the ones responsible for certifying any drawings which the city will use to issue permits. As previously stated, you must have 2 exits and meet strict weight limits and have a building structure that can support a roof deck .
Often, if the top floor unit owns the Roof Rights, they can build a deck. Doing so would likely make any current roof warranty void in the event of damage caused by the deck to the roof membrane. If the association is responsible for the roof then it would be the unit owners (two in your situation) that would vote on such an addition based on the Condominium documents and pay according to % of ownership.

If it can increase the marketability of your home by offering stunning views it may be worth doing. But if you can't do it right and comply with city code, you may undertake expensive work that ultimately could be shut down during construction or be requested by the city to be removed after it's already built.

Best of Luck, Ken.
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0 votes
Mark Roncone, , Naperville, IL
Thu Apr 10, 2008
Try the building department for the City of Chicago.
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Paul, Home Buyer, Chicago, IL
Thu Apr 10, 2008
I would first find an architect. Anyone who does work in the City will be familiar with the City's structural (100Pounds/SquareFoot) and exiting (2 exits?) requirements. These are two big issues that are seen on all new roof decks. These are also potentially a deal breaker due to the expense of structurally reinforcing a roof to hold the weight and extending 2 stairs. To find a good architect just ask around in various places, Real Estate Offices, Renovation Contractors, and neighbors also doing work. They should be able to give you an idea of what will be required (costs, permits, time) without a fee.
0 votes
Marek, , Chicago, IL
Wed Apr 9, 2008
Sure. Try They are reputable company and will help you out with any questions you may have.
0 votes
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