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Code Compliance Program -What Inspectors Look For

The City of Milwaukee's Certificate of Code Compliance ordinance (200-52) requires purchasers of non-owner occupied one and two family dwellings located city-wide and owner occupied one and two family dwellings located within designated reinvestment areas to have an exterior inspection conducted at the time of sale of the property.

The purpose of the program is to preserve and improve existing housing stock by insuring that properties meet minimum exterior building codes. Sellers are required to inform buyers when a Certificate of Code Compliance is required. Buyers are ultimately responsible for ensuring that a certificate has been obtained. The property may not be rented out prior to having the required inspection conducted.

An application can be obtained at the Department of Neighborhood Services offices located at 4001 S. 6th Street or 841 N. Broadway Room 105. Applications can also be downloaded off the Internet @ Applications will be mailed or faxed upon request by calling 286-3838. There is a $91.26* application fee. Two structures on the same property require a single application and a single fee.

An exterior inspection will be conducted upon receipt of an application and payment of the required fee.

All exterior portions of the building and grounds will be inspected, including accessory buildings (i.e., garages and sheds), service walks, landscaping and paved areas. If code violations are identified, orders will be issued to correct them. The compliance time is generally sixty days. Orders with shorter compliance times may be issued in cases where the inspector identifies a hazardous or emergency condition.

The following is a general summary of exterior building components that a code compliance inspector may check.


1. Cracked or broken chimney cap.
2. Defective flue liner.
3. Missing or defective mortar or bricks.

1. Defective or missing roofing material.
2. Deteriorated flashing or valleys.
3. Deteriorated built-in gutters.
4. Defective or missing gutters or downspouts.

Note: Rolled roofing may not be installed over any existing roofing material except rolled roofing.

1. Missing or defective siding.
2. Defective trim, fascia or eave boards.
3. Peeling paint.

1. Defective or missing mortar.
2. Defective or missing bricks or blocks.
3. Cracks or bows in foundation walls.
4. Foundation not watertight or water damaged.

1. Defective or missing boards in porch floors, skirting, trim or ceilings.
2. Defective or missing step treads, risers or stringers.
3. Defective or missing handrails, balusters or guardrails.
4. Defective porch supports.

NOTES: a. Handrails are required on all stairs of more than 3
risers including service walks.
b. Handrails are required on both sides of open stairs of more than 3 risers.
c. Handrails must be between 30 and 34 inches above the nosing of the step tread.
d. Replacement handrails (except those on service walks) and guardrails require balusters that prevent the passage of an object greater than 4 inches in diameter.
e. Guardrails must be 36 inches in height for residential property and 42 inches for Commercial property.

1. Doors and windows not weathertight.
2. Defective window sashes.
3. Inoperable windows or doors.
4. Missing or defective window panes.
5. Missing or defective storm windows or screens.
6. Missing or defective door or window trim, sills or casings.
7. Missing or defective door or window hardware (locks, latches, doorknobs, hinges etc.).

a. All dwelling unit doors require deadbolts.
b. All rental units require storm windows and screens.
c. All windows require locking devices.
d. All wooden double hung windows within 10 feet of grade require a venting device that allows the window to be locked in an open position between 4 and 6 inches and is removable to allow the window to be fully opened.

1. Defective service walk steps – broken concrete.
2. Defective service walk – cracked or missing concrete.
3. Trip hazards.
4. Defective paved areas or parking slab.

1. Defective walls or siding.
2. Defective roofing material.
3. Defective trim, fascia or eave boards.
4. Defective windows.
5. Defective or inoperable doors.
6. Peeling paint.
7. Missing alley side house numbers.

1. Condition of yard, outdoor storage and sanitation.
2. Soil erosion and landscaping.

If you receive orders to make repairs, read the orders carefully. The inspector's name and phone number is printed on the order. If you have any questions regarding the order, call the inspector.

Each order has a compliance time. If additional time is needed to complete the required repairs, contact the inspector before the compliance date to inquire about an extension. A reinspection will be conducted after the compliance time has expired. A fee will be charged for any reinspection conducted except for the final reinspection when compliance is recorded. The reinspection fee schedule is $50.70* for the first reinspection, $76.05* for the second reinspection, $228.15* for the third reinspection and $354.90* for the fourth and all subsequent reinspections. When all exterior code violations have been corrected, the inspector will issue a Certificate of Code Compliance. The certificate is valid for one year after the date of issuance.

If the property is sold after orders have been issued but before a final certificate has been obtained, sellers are required to inform buyers of the pending orders and the inspector should be notified of the change in ownership.

A permit is required for all structural repairs including the replacement of porches and stairs. A permit is also required for installing siding or a fence. For additional information regarding permits, please contact the Development Center @ (414) 286-8211.

If you have any questions regarding the Certificate of Code Compliance program please call (414) 286-3838 Monday – Friday between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M.

*Fee includes a 1.4% Training and Technology surcharge.

Last Update 1/28/14