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Facade Inspection Ordinance

Special Notice to Owners of Buildings Five or More Stories

The City of Milwaukee has adopted an ordinance, effective August 18, 2001 (sec. 275-32-13 Milw Code of Ordinances Vol. II) that requires owners of buildings that are five stories or greater to have a critical exam completed to determine if the façade of their building is in a safe condition.

What does this mean?

If you own a building that is 5 stories or greater in height and the building is more than 15 years old, you are now required to hire a registered professional engineer or architect to conduct a critical exam of your building's façade to ensure it is in a safe condition.

How do I know if my building is five stories or more?

A story is the space in a building between the surfaces of any floor and the floor next above or below or roof next above or any space not defined as a basement, ground floor, mezzanine, balcony, penthouse or attic. Count the number of stories in your buildings but do not count the basement, penthouse, balcony, attic, mezzanine or ground floor as a story.

What's a critical exam?

This means a close up visual examination of the façade by having the professional or someone under their direct supervision actually touch the façade with their hands or a tool to determine if the façade is in a safe condition.

Who does the inspection?

A State of Wisconsin registered professional architect or professional engineer shall conduct or directly supervise the person conducting the actual hands-on exam of the façade. This professional shall then provide a written report of the condition of the façade to DNS.

Is this required every year?

No. The requirement to submit the first exam report will be staggered based on the age of the building and the category type. The frequency of how often reports are due is based on the exterior wall construction and is outlined in the ordinance.

How do I know how old my building is?

The age of your property may be found on the My Milwaukee Home website. Enter your address and click the "Submit Address" button. To view the "Year Built," click on the link "View City Assesor's details."

The age may also be found by checking the microfilm for the property and viewing the original building permit or other information that may reveal the age of the building. This microfilm is available for viewing weekdays between 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Permit and Development Center, 809 N. Broadway, 1st floor. You may also want to check your own records for the original drawings or documents for when the building was first built.


City of Milwaukee Department of Administration Director Sharon Robinson 

 Monday - Friday, 8:00 AM - 4:45 PM

 Zeidler Municipal Building, 841 N. Broadway, Room 105, Milwaukee, WI 53202



Facade Inspection Ordinance CH 275 (PDF)
(MCO 275-32-13-g defines the façade inspection schedule based on year of construction and category of construction. The categories (1-5) are defined in MCO 275-32-13-c.)

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