Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Beginning June 8, 2020 the Building Inspection plan review and zoning review counters will be open to the public by appointment only.

For information about scheduling an appointment and other Building Inspection services please see the Building Inspection Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

View all impacts to City service on the City's COVID-19 website.

Common Code Violations Checklist

This checklist can help property owners and tenants identify common code violations. The prepared checklist shows the most common issues our inspectors find. It does not list all possible issues.



  • The outer surface of a building must be free of too much loose, peeling, or missing paint.

  • Chimneys or other exterior masonry must not have damaged or missing bricks and/or mortar.

  • Gutters must be secured to the building and be free flowing.

  • Roofs must be free of leaks or serious decay.

  • Siding, trim, windows, and doors must be weather-tight and free of rotten wood.

  • Outdoor areas must be free of junk, trash, debris, or other items not meant for outside.

  • Trees must be free of dead wood and trimmed to avoid causing damage to buildings.

  • Public sidewalks next to the property must be unblocked, with a clearance of at least 7 feet

  • Trash carts must be kept at the rear of the property when not placed at the curb for pickup.

  • Vehicles stored outside must be kept in working condition.

  • Fences, storage sheds, walkways, and other exterior structures must be properly maintained.

  • Wooden structures or surfaces between the main building and the street must weather-tight. The structures can be painted or treated with pigmented stain.



  • Stairs with open sides or other areas higher that 24" above grave must have guardrails. Guardrails must be sturdy enough to prevent people from falling off.

  • Stairs must have an even rise-and-run between stair treads.

  • Structures must be secured, and free of rotten wood or other defects.

  • New stairs, handrails, and guardrails must meet building code requirements. Pre-existing structures may be allowed to stay if they are safe and in good repair.



  • Multi-unit buildings must have doorbells, or an intercom system at the main entrance.

  • Walls, ceilings, and other surfaces must be free of defects, water damage, and peeling paint.

  • Floors must be free of defects or trip hazards, and provide easy-to-clean surfaces.

  • Ranges, refrigerators, and appliances must be functional. They must be free of missing or damaged parts.

  • Cabinets and countertops in kitchens and bathrooms must be in proper condition. They must have easy-to-clean surfaces.

  • Bathrooms must have either an operable window or a vent fan.

  • Dwelling units must have a permanent heating system. The system must maintain a heat of at least 67°F at all times.

  • Heating systems must be serviced by qualified individual on an annual basis. A record of these services must stay at the premises. The records needs to list the service date and who serviced the system.

  • Metal water piping systems must be properly bonded around the water meter.

  • Common areas must be kept clean. Basements or other areas must be kept free of excessive storage or clutter. Items not owned by current tenant, or used to maintain the building, must be removed from the property.

  • Basement areas cannot be used for sleeping purposes if they do not have two approved means of exit.



  • Dwelling unit doors must have a keyed deadbolt lock. The deadbolt must have at least a one inch throw. The strike plate must be secured with screws at least two and one half inches long.

  • Main dwelling unit door must have a peephole if the door has no window.

  • Sliding patio doors must have a primary lock that is part of the door assembly and a secondary lock.

  • If the patio door is on the first floor level, or accessible from the outside, it needs an extra ventilation lock. Vent locks must secure the door in the open position between one to five inches open.

  • Secondary and ventilation locks can be rods, pins or stops that install in the track. Otherwise, adjustable security bars can serve this purpose.

  • Laundry room doors in shared basements must have a storeroom lock and a self-closer. Storerooms locks are also known as positive locking guarded latch lock.

  • In multi-unit buildings, basement doors to common areas must have a storeroom lock. These basement doors must also have a self-closer.

  • Multi-unit buildings must have required fire doors. The doors must have required latching hardware and self-closers. These door must not be propped open.

  • Other doors must be in good repair and have working knob and latch assemblies and strike plates.

  • Double-keyed deadbolt locks are not allowed on any doors.

  • Hasp locks are not allowed on any doors other than storage lockers.



  • All windows

    • Must have properly working sash locks.

    • Must open and close properly. The lower sashes of double hung windows must stay up, when opened, without the use of a prop.

    • Must be free of broken or cracked glass.

    • Must be double-glazed (thermo pane), or have storm windows from November 15 to April 30.

    • Must have properly fitting insect screens from June 1 to October 15. The screens must be in good repair.

  • Windows must have vent locks if

    • The window is at or below the first floor

    • The window is within reach of porches, balconies, trees, etc.,

  • Vent locks must let each window lock to stay between one (1) to five (5) inches open. The locks, when not in use, must let the window open fully from the inside.



  • Smoke alarms must either

    • Be hard-wired

    • Use tamper resistant, 10-year lithium batteries

  • Smoke alarms must be installed

    • in every bedroom (or area used for sleeping)

    • within six feet of the outside of bedroom entry doors

    • on each floor level (including basements)

  • See here for a visual placement guide.

  • Dual smoke detector / carbon monoxide alarms must meet the power requirements above.




Building type

Must have a carbon monoxide alarm

One and two dwelling units

On every floor (including basements) of every unit

3 or more dwelling units

Within 15 feet of bedroom doors of any unit with a fuel-burning appliance


Within any other room that has a fuel-burning appliance

  • Carbon monoxide alarms may be either battery powered or plug-in.



  • Every sink, bathtub, and shower must have adequate cold water and also hot water of at least 120°F.

  • Plumbing fixtures must be properly installed and functioning without leaks.

  • Drains must drain freely.

  • Dishwasher drains must have a proper air gap or air break.

  • Toilets must be properly functioning and secured to the floor.



  • 3-prong electrical outlets must be properly grounded.

  • Outlets that cannot be grounded must be replaced with

    • 2-prong outlets or

    • GFCI-protected receptacles labeled 'No Equipment Ground'.

  • Outlets must have GFCI protection if they're located in

    • kitchens

    • bathrooms

    • garages

    • unfinished basements

    • within 6 feet of a water source

    • the exterior of the building

  • Electrical switch, outlet, and junction box cover plates must be properly installed. Cover plates must be free of cracks or damage.

  • Light fixtures must be secure and properly functioning. Light fixtures must be free of missing covers.

  • The electrical conductors for garbage disposals must use a clamp (listed for the wiring method) where they pass into the body of the disposal.

  • Screw-in fuses must have S-type bases of the appropriate rating for each circuit.

  • Every bathroom must have at least one outlets.

  • Every bedroom must have at least two outlets.

  • Extension cords may not be used as permanent wiring.

Last Updated: 02/17/2021

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Do you have a specific code question?

If you have specific code questions it is best to contact Building Inspection at (608) 266-4551 to discuss your questions or concerns. 

Minimum Housing Code

The complete minimum housing code can be found in Chapter 27 of the Madison Municipal Ordinances.

Translation Services

For interpreter, translator, materials in alternate formats or other accommodations, please call the Building Inspection Division at (608) 266-4551.

Español: Si necesita interprete, traductor, materiales en diferentes formatos, u otro tipo de ayuda para acceder a estos formularios, por favor llame al (608) 266-4551.

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