Decks, Ramps, Pergolas, and Gazebos

This guideline has been developed to assist you in your efforts to design and construct a wood frame deck, pergola, or gazebo. Prior to constructing a new structure, a building permit must be obtained from the City of Wheaton Building Department. Provided below is information that addresses the information that must be submitted to the City of Wheaton Building Department as part of the permit application. These guidelines are by no means all-inclusive, but they do identify the most critical requirements that are involved with this type of project. Please review this information, and contact the City of Wheaton Building Department if you should have any questions.

Required Submittals
The following documents, forms, and permit applications must be submitted prior to the plan review. Referenced forms are available on the Building and Code Enforcement website and can be accessed throughout this document by following the appropriate link.

  1. Application for Permit - When filling out the application for a permit, include all required information that is pertinent to the proposed scope of work such as site address, description of work, contractors to be used on the job and their respective costs per trade, the total cost of work to be performed, complete applicant contact information, etc.
    Please refer to the document titled Application for Permit. Building Application for Permit PDF.
  2. Architectural Plans - Please submit two (2) complete sets of architectural-style plans and any other required documentation (such as lighting fixture manufacturer specifications, etc.) that will be necessary to complete the review of the construction documents.
  3. Plat of Survey - Please provide two (2) copies of a current Plat of Survey with the proposed deck drawn to scale on the plat of survey; indicate the distance of the proposed deck to all adjacent side and rear lot lines and any accessory structures.
  4. Homeowners, Townhouse, or Condominium Association Approval - If your residence is serviced by a Homeowners, Townhouse, or Condominium Association, please provide a letter from your Association that identifies that they have reviewed your proposed deck plans and have granted approval of the location of the proposed deck.
  5. Utility Easement (Approval to Build Within) submittal requirements - where applicable.

Architectural Plan Requirements
Provide two (2) copies of architectural style plans that include the following information listed below. Where special conditions exist, the building official is authorized to require additional construction documents to be prepared by an Illinois licensed design professional.

  1. Plan View- Must include the following information:
    • Pier location, diameter, and distances to adjacent pier or building;
    • Ledger board size; bolt type, bolt size, and spacing/pattern; location, number, and specification of lateral load devices;
    • floor joist size, spacing, and span between bearing points;
    • beam sizes, spans, and cantilever dimensions;
  2. Cross Section- Must include the following information:
    • Pier diameters and depth below grade;
    • Post sizes and method of connection to both beams and piers;
    • Beam sizes and specific method of attachment to posts;
    • Ledger board size, flashing detail, bolt type, bolt size and spacing, location and specific brand/model of lateral load devices.
    • Joist sizes, spacing, span, and joist hanger locations (if applicable);
    • Decking material specifications;
    • Guardrail height and intermediate rail spacing;
    • Height of deck from grade to walking surface (indicate for all levels if multiple level deck)
  3. Stair Details- Must include the following information:
    • Riser height (maximum 7-3/4”) and tread depth (10” minimum measured from the nosing of the treads);
    • Guardrail details (minimum 36” in height, spindles spaced so that a 4” sphere cannot pass through);
    • Stair handrail details - must be 34”-38” above the nosing of the treads, extend the entire length of the stair run, and must comply with the graspability requirements;
    • Minimum 36” width for the stairway.

If you need examples of these drawings,

Significant Building Code Requirements

Pier Requirements

  • Piers must be a minimum 42” inches below grade.
  • Piers must be supported either by undisturbed soil, or engineered fill.
  • The diameter and spacing of the proposed piers shall be capable of properly carrying and conveying all imposed loads to the soil. The pier sizes shall be determined in accordance with the following chart:

Minimum Pier Diameters (in inches):

Chart is based upon Table R507.3.1, 50 lbs. PSF design loading, 2000 lbs. PSF soil load-bearing value

Note: Any spans greater than 8’-0” will require signed and sealed plans from an Illinois design professional (Wheaton Requirement)

Framing Requirements
All lumber utilized in the construction of the proposed deck must be pressure-treated lumber, or naturally durable lumber, naturally decay-resistant, or other material as approved by the Building Official (2018 IRC R502.2.1). Please see the following framing requirements for wood frame decks:

Deck Beams

  • Beams must be positively anchored to the posts with a minimum of two thru-bolts or an approved manufactured connector of a compatible material with the posts. (2018 IRC R507.5.2)
  • Please refer to the following table for beam size and span:
  • Beams shall be allowed to cantilever at each end up to one-fourth of the allowable beam span.
  • The ends of beams shall have not less than 1-1/2” of bearing on wood or metal and not less than 3” of bearing on load-bearing masonry or concrete for the entire width of the beam.

Deck posts
Deck posts for single-level wood frame decks shall be sized in accordance with the following table:

Deck Post Size
Maximum Height (feet-inches)
4 x4
6’ – 9”
4 x 6
8’ – 0”
6 x 6
14’ – 0”
8 x 8
14’ – 0”
  • Deck posts shall be connected to deck footings by manufactured connectors that provide lateral restraint.
  • Beams must be positively anchored to the posts with a minimum of two thru-bolts or an approved manufactured connector of a compatible material with the posts.

Deck Joist Requirements

  • Deck joist spans shall be in accordance with this table:
  • The ends of joists shall have not less than 1-1/2” of bearing on wood or metal and not less than 3” of bearing on load-bearing masonry or concrete for the entire width of the beam.
  • Joist framing into the side of a beam or into a ledger board must be supported by an approved joist hanger.
  • Joist ends and bearing locations shall be provided with lateral resistance to prevent rotation. This may be accomplished by solid blocking, joist hangers (their depth cannot be less than 60% of the joist depth), or by a rim joist.

Ledger Board Requirements
Deck Ledger Boards must be a minimum of a 2x8 pressure treated, No. 2 grade or better, lumber. The ledger board cannot support any concentrated loads from beams or girders, and ledger boards cannot be supported on stone or masonry veneer. Ledger board bolting must be as follows:

Deck Ledger Connection to Band Joist:

Placement of Lag Screws and Bolts in Ledger Boards:

Lateral Load Connections
Decks are required to have lateral load connections. When hold-down tension devices are used, they are required to be installed in a minimum of two (2) locations within 24” of each end of the deck. Each device shall have an allowable stress capacity of not less than 1500 pounds.

Hardware Coatings
All fasteners, flashing, or other metal hardware that is to come into contact with any ACQ treated lumber must be of hot-dipped galvanized material. Hot dipped galvanized fasteners shall meet ASTM A153. Hot-dipped galvanized connectors shall meet ASTM A653, class G185 sheet with 1.85 ounces of zinc coating per square foot minimum. Fasteners and connectors used together should be of the same type of material.


  • Stairs shall be a minimum of 36” in clear width;
  • The maximum stair riser height is 7-3/4”;
  • The minimum tread depth is 10” (measured from nosing to nosing);
  • Guardrails are required if the stairs exceed 30” above grade;
  • Graspable handrails are required for each flight of stairs with four or more risers.


  • Guardrails are required for walking surfaces that are located more than 30” above floor or grade;
  • Guardrails must be a minimum of 36” in height (above the adjacent walking surface;
  • Guardrail openings shall not allow the passage of a sphere 4” in diameter;
  • Stair Guardrails shall be a minimum of 34” above the line connecting the nosing of the treads;
  • Stair Guardrail triangular openings formed by the tread, riser, and bottom rail shall not allow the passage of a sphere 6” in diameter;
  • If the top of the stair guardrail is to be used as a graspable handrail, then the top of the guardrail must be between 34”-38” above the line connecting the nosing of the treads.

Graspable Handrails

  • Handrails must be installed between 34” and 38” above the nosing of the treads;
  • Handrails shall not project more than 4-1/2” into the stairway;
  • Handrails must have a minimum clearance of 1-1/2” between the handrail and the wall;
  • Handrails must be continuous for the entire flight of stairs, beginning from a point directly above the top riser of the flight, and ending at a point directly above the lowest riser of the flight;
  • Handrails with a circular cross-section shall have an outside diameter of not less than 1-1/4” and not greater than 2”;
  • Handrails that are not circular shall have a perimeter of not less than 4” and not greater than
  • 6-1/4” with a cross-section of not more than 2-1/4”;
  • Handrails that are not circular with a perimeter greater than 6-1/4” shall comply with Type II handrail requirements found in Section R311. of the 2018 International Residential Code.

Gazebo and Pergola Overhead Structures

  • Overhead structural framing must comply with the requirements found in Chapter 8 (Roof-Ceiling Construction) of the 2018 International Residential Code. This applies to all structural elements including but not limited to headers, rafters, ceiling joists, and all supporting elements.
  • All roofs, and subsequent structural support of the roof, must be capable of accommodating all imposed loads and properly transmitting the imposed loads to the supporting structural elements.

Significant Codes - Zoning
Please refer to Wheaton Zoning Ordinance Sections 24.4.3, 24.5.1, and 25.5.4. Questions regarding zoning should be directed to the City of Wheaton Planning Department at 630-260-2080.


  • Front and side yard setbacks abutting a street is the same as required for a Single-Family
  • Residence;
  • Interior side yard setback is the lesser of 8% of the lot width or 10 feet;
  • Rear yard setback is 25 feet


  • Interior side yard and/or rear yard setback is 10 feet;
  • Front and side yard abutting a street is not permitted;

Arbors, Stand-Alone Pergolas, and Trellises

  • Permitted anywhere within boundaries of a lot

Permit Fees
For associated Planning, Engineering, and Building fees, please refer to “Appendix B7 - Fee Schedule” per the Wheaton City Code - "Community Development Fees".

The inspections listed here are required for all deck and gazebo projects. Additional inspections may be needed based upon the scope of work for your project. If you are required to have additional inspections, they will be listed on your Plan Approval Notice that will be attached to the approved plans.

Type of Inspection
When to Call
Once the pier holes have been excavated, but prior to the pouring of concrete.
Once framing of the posts, beams, ledger board, floor joists, and any other related framing items have been completed, but prior to the installation of decking materials.
Once all of the work indicated on the Approved Plans has been completed.

To schedule an inspection, please call 630-260-2050 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Inspections must be scheduled no later than 3:30 PM the day before the desired inspection date.


Contact Us
City of Wheaton Building & Code Enforcement Department
Address: 303 W. Wesley Street, Wheaton, IL 60187-0727
Phone Calls:

  • Building and Code Department - 630-260-2050
  • Building Code Questions - 630-260-2051
  • Inspection Scheduling - 630-260-2050
  • Planning & Zoning Department - 630-260-2080
  • Fax - 630-260-2195

Business hours: Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Revised 4/28/2020

Example Stair Cross Section

Example Deck Cross Section

Example Plan View