Building & Construction Permits

Before You Build

All building permits are issued through the Community Services Department located at 212 Third Avenue in Sterling. This department can be reached at (815) 632-6624; fax number is (815) 632-6673. The office hours are 8:00am - 12:00pm and 1:00pm to 4:30pm.

Sterling's Application for Plan Examination and Building Permit

Sterling's Sign Permit

Sterling's Plan Review Form.

To access a list of license and permit applications that are available electronically for businesses, please visit the Licenses page.

Permit Fees

  • Building Permits for new construction and additions are based on the type of construction, the use group of the building and the unit rate cost per square feet as provided by 2015 International Building Codes.
  • Remodeling Permits, Plumbing, Electrical, and HVAC Permits are based on the actual cost of the work (Fee schedule)
  • Occupancy Permits are $25 per residential unit and $50 for commercial and industrial structures
  • Curb Cut Permits are $50
  • Street Excavation Permits are $50
  • Residentail Roofing Permits are $15
  • Residentail Siding Permits are $15
  • Commercial Building Permits are the cost of project

Zoning Fees

  • Zoning changes and Special Use Permits are $150 plus the cost for all notices and certified mailings
  • Planned Unit Development (PUD) fees are $100 for the first acre and $50 for each additional acre
  • Subdivision fees are $100 for the first 5-acres, plus $5 per lot
  • Stormwater and Erosion Control fees are based upon the actual cost of the review and are billed to the owner or developer

Zoning Codes


What type of work requires a permit?
A permit is required for any new construction, remodel, or repair of any structure or accessory structure. An accessory structure includes fences, detached garages, sheds, swimming pools, decks, and patios. Repairs and remodeling include any plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning work, as well as roofing, siding and windows. The occupancy of any building, whether new or existing, requires an occupancy permit.

How far from the property line does my garage or shed have to be? 
Detached garages and sheds must be at least 5 feet from the side and rear property lines and must be at least 10 feet from any other structure on the lot. Sheds and detached garages are not allowed in front yards.

How big can my garage be?
No detached garage or accessory building can occupy more than 40% of the area of any required rear yard. Further, no accessory building or combination of accessory buildings can exceed 900 square feet in total floor area. Floor area includes all floors of accessory buildings. For the purpose of determining floor area, all stories with structural headroom of 7 feet 6 inches or greater will be included.

What are the regulations for fences?
Fences may be located up to the property line. They may be a maximum of six feet above the existing grade. Fences are not permitted in front yards or in the corner side of reversed corner lots.

What are the regulations for swimming pools?
Pools require a permit. They must be located at least 8 feet from any property line and not less than 8 feet from any building on the lot. Additional considerations must be made for overhead electrical service and any underground utilities. Pools that are 24" in depth or more are required to be enclosed by a 6 foot fence and must have a lockable gate/access.

I would like to open a business in Sterling. How do I go about that?
The proposed location of a business is governed by the permitted uses within a particular zoning district. The type of business also determines code requirements for the proposed site. In many cases, City licenses are required. An Occupancy Certificate is required prior to opening your business. Call us early in the process and we assist you in making an informed decision about your business location.

What are the applicable codes in Sterling?

2015 International Building Code 
2015  International Residence Code for one and two family dwellings
2014  National Electric Code with amendments
2015  International Mechanical Code
2014  Illinois State Plumbing Code
2015   International Fire Prevention Code
2018   International Energy Conservation Code
2015  International Property Maintenance Code
2015   Fuel Gas Code
2015   International Existing Building Code
   Illinois Accessability Code - Most Recent Version 


Contractor Registration Information

To perform any work in Sterling, contractors need to register, pay applicable fees and meet certain requirements. Call (815) 632-6624 or stop by the office for details or download the form here.

Landlords and Tenants

Property owners must maintain their properties in accordance with the International Property Maintenance Code to ensure safe housing and quality neighborhoods that protect property values.  The City of Sterling will inspect properties to insure that they comply with current code standards.

  • Illinois Attorney General's Landlords and Tenants Rights and Laws: English Espanol
  • Illinois Criminal Housing Statute Part1 Part2