The plans maintained in City Records are received from the Development Center, which reviews plans as part of the approval process for permits for new construction, additions, or alterations. Not every type of permit requires plan submission, and not every building within City limits will have submitted plans for original or modified construction. You are much more likely to find plans submitted before the mid-1980s for commercial buildings, and especially for "public assembly"-type buildings such as theaters and houses of worship.
For some older or historically-significant buildings, the Wisconsin Architectural Archive in the Zeidler Humanities Room of Central Library may have plans or drawings.
Yes! The records of the Historic Preservation Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals case files often include building plans or architectural drawings as part of their supporting evidence. City Records staff can help you identify related files that have been scanned and added to the City's electronic document management system. Historic Preservation shares a suite with City Records, so they may also be able to assist you!
The answer to all of the above lies in the Secure Structure Ordinance, itself a local implementation of Wis. Stat. § 101.12(5). These statutes create two primary mandates for inspection of building plans:
- All persons seeking to inspect plans must submit an application for each building to be inspected; this application must be transmitted to the property owner and plan submitter (if applicable) as notice.
- In the case of "secure structures" (a building determined by the City, State, or County to have 'extraordinary security requirements'), City Records staff may restrict access to plans based on a determination of possible harm which may result from inspection. (See the Secure Structure Policy for examples of secure structures.)
If a structure is determined to be "secure" under these statutes, the potential inspector may view the plans via provision of written permission from the plan owner. Depending on the type of plan to be inspected, City Records staff may also provide limited access to plans of secure structures (e.g. the requester may view, but not copy or photograph, the plans).
Because of the application requirement for viewing all plans, City Records regrettably is unable to make digital plan images available online to the general public at this time.
We have a limited number of surveys for properties which submitted them to the Development Center as part of the permitting process. Surveys may be provided for any property, regardless of whether the building itself is considered "secure", withouta letter of permission. However, a location or reproduction fee may still be incurred.
Additional surveys may be maintained by the Development Center's Property Information Section, or may be downloadable via the Milwaukee County Land Information Office's interactive mapping tool. If no survey exists at any of these sources, you may have to commission one with the assistance of a professional land surveyors. City departments, including DNS and City Records, do not provide surveying services, and are unable to provide recommendations for commercial surveyors.
Depending on the time frame in which you are looking, there are three possible places to find building permits issued by the City of Milwaukee. You should always go to the Development Center first for access to permits: