How to Research Building Permits Issued for a Property

Posted by Dan Miller, REALTOR on Thursday, July 6th, 2017 at 5:59am.

Imagine you've come across a new listing with a beautiful, recently upgraded kitchen. The kitchen space is perfect for you and your family, but you're wondering who did the work and whether or not permits were pulled for the plumbing and electrical. If the property is located in Madison, there's a great online tool you can use to get answers to your questions. 

City of Madison Licenses & Permits Webpage

The City of Madison Licenses and Permits Webpage helps consumers research building permits pulled for individual properties. To access the page, go to If this is your first time using the site, you'll need to start by registering for an account. 

Once you've registered for an account, select the Permitting tab along the top menu. 


Now, enter the property address that you'd like to research. 


The tool will display a list of results (note the real property addressed has been removed from view in the example below). 

Select an entry from the list to view the details for an individual permit. In this example, the building permit was pulled by the contractor on behalf of the home owner. The tool displays both the plumber and the company who completed the work. 

About Building Permit Statuses

A status of closed means the permit was issued, the job completed, and the work reviewed and approved by a city building inspector. A status of issued means the city building inspector hasn't signed off on the job yet. This is a common status, as home owners frequently forget to have an inspector review a job after it's been completed. 

About Basement Remodels

Some home owners don't pull permits when they add finished space to their basement because they don't want their assessments and property taxes to rise. For this reason, it's always a good idea to compare the square footage in the listing to the square footage listed on the city assessor page.

If the city assessor doesn't have any record of finished space in the basement, that could mean the home owner (or the home owner's contractor) never pulled a permit. It's also a tip-off that the owner may have done the remodel as a "do it yourself" project. You and your buyer agent can research the remodel further by checking the city licenses and permits site, and by asking the owner to provide more details about the work that was done. 

We can help you find and buy the perfect home that will be a safe and sound investment for years to come. Contact us to get started with the process

This article is published courtesy of:
Dan Miller, REALTOR
Mad City Dream Homes & RE/MAX Preferred
610 Junction Road #205, Madison, WI, 53717

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