A building permit is required for all decks. At any time
during the planning or construction of your
deck, call, write or visit Building Inspection.
They’re happy to answer your questions
and suggest solutions to your problems.
Before developing a parcel of land, you will need to determine if the parcel is zoned for your desired use or if there are any special development considerations for your project.
Zoning will be able to tell you the zoning of the property or if there are any special considerations for your project. If your project requires special handling, our staff will inform you of the requirements and next steps.
Find out the zoning for your property
Who to contact:
Zoning at Building Permits, (608) 266-4551.
Find out if your proposed deck will meet these placement, construction and safety requirements
- Decks less than 3 feet above ground can
extend up to the lot line in most cases.
- Decks 3 feet or higher above the ground
must meet the zoning setback
requirements for your district. Call 266-
4551 for zoning requirements in your
- Use weather-resistant materials such as
- Footings must be adequate to support
the load. Building Inspection staff will
help you determine the type of footing to
- Footings for decks must be at least
48 inches deep to prevent frost heaving.
- Guardrails must surround any deck that
is more than 2 feet above ground and
they must be a minimum of 3 feet high.
- Stairs of more than 3 risers require
handrails with intermediate rails,
balustrades or latticework spaced so that
a 4-inch ball cannot pass through.
Submit Building Plans
Where to go:
Building Inspection Permit Counter
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday
Madison Municipal Building
215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite LL 100
Madison, WI 53703
What to include:
- If your deck is over 3 feet high a drawing (site plan) showing your deck’s location, size and distance from lot lines and other structures will be needed. The site plan must show the entire property and be drawn to scale. Using a scale of 1″=20′ usually works best. Show the measurements of the lot, house, deck, and any other structures. Also show the distances from the house and deck to the lot lines and any other structures. View the site plan example
- All decks require construction drawings showing the deck size, post locations, beam sizes, and joist size and spacing.
Obtain a building permit
For decks, your plans can be
reviewed and a permit issued by City
staff immediately if the design meets the
The City charges for building
permits to cover the cost of plan
review and inspections.
The permit fee for most decks under
420 square feet is $35. Staff will calculate
your exact fee once they have approved
your plans. A fee schedule is available at
the Permit Counter.
Start the work
Be sure to display the
permit where it can be seen from the
street during construction.
Call for an inspection
When your permit is issued the Permit Counter
staff will tell you the name and phone
number of the Building Inspector for your
area. The Building Inspector will work with
you to be sure the work is done correctly.
It is your responsibility to schedule an
inspection after your footing holes are
dug and before the footings are
On-site inspections of your project during
construction assure you that the materials
used and the work done are up to code. If
any work does not pass inspection, it must
be corrected and reinspected.
After your final inspection, your project will be considered complete.
Related Forms & Handouts
Contact Building Inspection
- (608) 266-4551