1. Building Inspection Counter Appointments

    Building Inspection plan review and zoning review counters will be open to the public by appointment only.


The Plan Commission must approve demolition permits for all principal structures. Principal structures include most single-family residences, multi-family buildings and large commercial structures. Accessory structures like residential garages and sheds are exempt. These do not need Plan Commission approval to demolish.

The Commission reviews demolition requests to:

  • aid in putting in place adopted City plans
  • protect neighborhood character
  • preserve historic buildings
  • encourage the reuse and/or relocation of existing buildings.

You also need approval to remove or move a principal building from its current property. For more information, please see Madison General Ordinance Sec. 28.185.

If the Building Inspection Director determines that a principle building is structurally unsound, the Zoning Administrator may issue a demolition approval for a building if it

  • has not been used at any time as a single-family or multi-family residential dwelling and
  • is not a landmark nor in a Historic or Neighborhood Conservation District.

Process Overview

  1. Discuss with City Zoning & Planning

    Applicants for any project must first meet with Zoning and Planning staff before submitting their application. (Note: Given that the Planning and Zoning offices are currently open to the public by appointment only and many staff are working remotely, these meetings are being done virtually, via videoconference.) Please call Planning at (608) 266-4635 and Zoning (608) 266-4551 to schedule an appointment to discuss your project.

    Find out the zoning for your property.

  2. Notify Alder, Neighborhood Association and Interested Parties

    The applicant is strongly encouraged to discuss their proposal with the district alder and neighborhood association and nearby property owners prior to submitting their application.

    Regardless, the applicant or their agent is required to notify - via e-mail or US Mail - any of the following parties (who serve the subject site(s)), at least 30 days prior to filing their application. 

    1. The alderperson (click here for a map of alder districts),
    2. Any City-registered neighborhood association(s), and
    3. Any City-listed business association(s)

    Please note:

    • This notice must clearly state that the applicant is “intending to file an application for a demolition permit" (and conditional use, zoning map amendment, etc., if applicable), it must state the date the applicant intends to submit (for a list of submittal dates, please refer to the Development Review Schedule), and specify the project address. If this notice requirement is not met, an application will not be accepted. Notices may also include other information such as contact information, timelines, or descriptions of the proposal.
    • The alderperson and the Director of Planning & Community & Economic Development may waive or reduce the 30-day notification requirement. A copy of the pre-application notification letters or any correspondence granting a waiver or reduction of the 30 days is required to be submitted as part of the application materials.

    Demolition Listserv. Prior to the filing of an application that includes a demolition permit approval from the Plan Commission, the applicant or their agent is also required to notify a list of interested persons registered with the City within the same timeframe as the written notification requirement above. Please use the Demolition Permit interested parties notification web tool.

    Landmarks Commission Review. Following submittal, the Landmarks Commission will informally review the demolition and make a recommendation to the Plan Commission regarding the historic value of the property.

  3. Submit Application

    Except for special circumstances, you will need to submit an application for a demolition permit approval to the Plan Commission. If the building to be demolished is an historic landmark or in an historic district, you may also be required to receive approval from the Landmarks Commission prior to submittal of your application. Please contact the City’s preservation planner at (608) 266-6552 for more information on the Landmarks Commission process.


    Review the current Development Review Schedule for the Urban Design Commission (UDC) and Plan Commission. The two columns on the left contain the submittal dates, which vary depending on the request(s). The middle three columns show the Urban Design Commission, Plan Commission, and Common Council meetings. (Read across the row from the submittal date). Deadlines occur on designated Mondays at 12:00 p.m., unless otherwise noted. 

    Where to Go


    (Staff are currently only accepting digital (PDF) submittals - not paper)

    What to Include

    • PDF Copies of the following, emailed to PCapplications@cityofmadison.com:
      • A completed Land Use Application Form (check the box for “Demolition Permit”)
      • The letter of intent (this is a brief overview of the proposal. It should also address potential public concerns)
      • All required supporting documents and plans (see Land Use Application and Land Use Application Checklist & Supplemental Submittal Requirements)
      • Copies of the notification to the district alderperson, and the neighborhood association(s) and business association(s), if applicable. If a waiver from or reduction of the 30 days has been granted by the alder, please also include a copy of the correspondence.
      • The review fee (see Page 6 of the Land Use Application for the fee amount, see below for more information on how to submit the fee)
    • Please note that an individual email cannot exceed 20 MB. It is the responsibility of the applicant to present files in a manner that can be accepted. If dividing the submittal materials into multiple, smaller components (in order to meet the email size limit), please clearly indicate the total number of email components in the subject line (e.g.: “Land Use Application for 123 Elm Street - email 1 of 4”, “…2 of 4”, etc.) and label the email attachments accordingly (e.g.: “Site Plan 1 of 3”, “…2 of 3”, etc.). Please email zoning@cityofmadison.com regarding questions on this submittal or alternative filing options.
    • The Review Fee (for the amount, see Page 6 of the Land Use Application
      • The fee can be mailed in, dropped in the drop box at the Madison Municipal Building, or you can make an appointment at the Zoning counter to pay the fee. Checks should be made out to “City Treasurer.” If you mail in the check or use the drop box, please include a cover page which includes the project address, brief description of the project, and contact information. Zoning staff typically suggest using the drop box or making an appointment with the Zoning counter to pay the fee as they are the quickest.
        • Mailing Address: City of Madison Building Inspection. P.O. Box 2984. Madison, WI 53701-2984
        • Drop Box Location: Madison Municipal Building, Doty Street Entrance. 215 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Madison, WI 53701-2984
        • Schedule a Zoning Counter Appointment online. 

    Once the application has been accepted for review, a public hearing before the Plan Commission will be scheduled . Property owners and occupants within 200 feet of the boundaries of the property will be notified of the application and the hearing date. The request is also advertised in the City’s official newspaper and a sign is provided for the applicant to post on the property. The applicant will be informed of the time and place of the public hearing in a letter sent by the Zoning Administrator following submittal of your application.

  4. Following Plan Commission Approval

    If the applicant’s application to demolish the structure is approved, the Planning Division will send the applicant or their agent a letter outlining the conditions of the approval. Once the conditions in the letter have been met as verified by City staff, a building permit to raze the structure(s) may be issued.

    In general, you may need to complete the following as part of receiving permits to demolish your structure:

    • Sewer Plug Permit is necessary to plug the existing laterals so that materials do not migrate into the sewerage system. The existing laterals may be abandoned or may be reused. The sewer plugging inspection fee is $100 and there is a $900 deposit.
    • Water Service Meters must be properly removed. Please contact the Water Meter Shop at (608) 266-4765.
    • Private Utilities (including telephone, cable TV, gas, electrical or any other private service for the property). The owner or designee must contact the individual companies that provide private utility service to building that is being demolished to ensure that the appropriate utilities services are properly disconnected or removed prior to demolition.
    • If an area of 4,000 square feet or more of land is being disturbed, then an Erosion Control Plan is required.
    • A Reuse & Recycling Plan, which is approved by the City’s recycling coordinator.
  5. Obtain Permit

    After the Plan Commission approves the demolition permit and the conditions of that approval have been satisfied, the applicant may obtain a building permit to raze the building at the Plans Review/ Permit Counter in the Department of Planning and Community & Economic Development offices at the address above. The minimum demolition permit fee for an accessory building is $20 and for a single-family house is $150. The exact fees will be determined at the time the permit is issued.

    The building permit to demolish is valid for 6 months; once the demolition begins, the permit expires in 30 days. City inspectors will visit the site during and after demolition to insure that the work complies within City and State Building Ordinances.

    Remember to call the utility companies to disconnect service before demolition starts.

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