How to Build on Your Land in Oklahoma


Building on your land in Oklahoma involves slightly different processes depending on on where the land is located and what you want to build. If your property is located in a municipality and you want to build a home or an accessory structure, the process is fairly easy to accomplish as long as the building plan meets the state's 2006 International Code Council (ICC) Building Code. Municipalities and counties may adopt amended forms of the code to address the unique character of their communities. If you intend to subdivide the property and build a development, the process is much more lengthy and involves the community. In unincorporated territory, the same processes apply but you will work within the county or state rules.

Things You'll Need

  • Preliminary development plan
  • Final Development plan
  • Architect
  • Engineer
  • Attorney

A Single Structure

  • Develop a sketch plan of the structure that you want to builid. This usually involves you, your architect and engineer and the city staff. Norman, OK, is fairly representative of the way the process works in municipalities throughout the state, according to Patrick Copeland, development services manager/for Norman. Norman, like most towns and cities in Oklahoma, have adopted versions of the ICC Uniform Building Code adopted by the state in 2006, tailored to the unique characteristics of each municipality.

  • Apply for the necessary building permits at the city's office of Planning and Development. Depending on the structure, you may need a number of permits including a building permit, plumbing permit , electrical permit and possibly others if you're building a home. There are fees that must be paid for each, ranging from $30 to $100, plus $10 per acre on the land where the building will be situation, according to Copeland.

  • Meeting the building codes is required unless unique circumstances warrant a waiver. Review of the plan will be conducted by the municipality's planning staff to make certain the proposed construction satisfies all codes. For example, the codes require certain set-backs from the property lines and that the building is not in a flood plain and that the development doesn't adversely impact a neighbor's property, among other codes depending on the zoning laws that are applicable. Codes are different for commercial development than they are for agricultural zoning.

  • Issuance of the permits takes place when the plans have satisfactorily met all the building codes. If there are conflicts between the plan and codes, they must be resolved before building permits are issued.

  • Re-design the layout of the plans to resolve any zoning conflicts, if necessary, and re-submit the plans for review. Once they are approved by the staff, pay the required fees and construction may commence.

  • Notify the city inspectors as construction proceeds for inspections of the plumbing, electrical, HVAC at times specified in the city code. For example, an electrical and plumbing inspection must take place before the drywall is installed to make certain the work was performed to code.

  • Complete construction and notify the city that the building is ready for final inspection. This includes a special fire inspection. When all inspections are completed to the satisfaction of the municipality, it will issue an occupancy permit and you're done.


  • Meet informally with the city planning staff. Bring a sketch plan to the meeting. The meeting is an informal one, according to Copeland, at which the city planners, engineers and the developer (you) openly discuss the plan and any apparent changes that are needed to conform to the city's zoning code. At this stage, it will be determined whether a zoning change may be needed or appropriate to accommodate the development.

  • Revise the plans based upon the input from planners and what is acceptable to you. Often times compromises are reached at this stage. Informally, allow another review by the planning staff and make any further refinements before taking the next step.

  • Request a public pre-development meeting from the planning staff. The city will notify adjoining landowners of a meeting date to receive their input on the proposed development. The meeting is held before sketch plans are formally submitted to the city. The city serves as facilitator between adjoining property owners and the developer (you). "It's just a free-flow of information," Copeland said. "The city is kind of there are a referee."

  • Revise the plans further, if appropriate, based upon the input from the public meeting and formally submit the plans to the municipality. Simultaneously, request a zoning change if necessary and to be placed on the agenda of the next Planning Commission meeting.

  • Attend the Planning Commission meeting. You will make a formal presentation to the Commission. The Commission will review the plans and, guided by staff recommendations, make recommendations of their own. If no changes are needed or only minor modifications, the Planning Commission will approve the plans with the recommendation the minor changes be implemented. Final approval of the plans rests with the City Council or appropriate governing legislative body of the municipality.

    Attend the next City Council meeting to present the plans formally and answer any questions. At this point, all issues should have been addressed. If Council approves the plans, you can begin the permit process and begin development. You still must follow the inspections required in steps 6 and 7 above.

Unincorporated Land

  • Follow steps 1 through 7 in the first section if you're building a home or accessory structure. The only difference will be that you'll be working with the County planning body, if there is one in the county. If there is no county planning agency, no permitting process is necessary.

  • Follow steps 1 through 6 of Section 2 if you are developing a tract of homes or other significant development in counties with a planning agency. The codes and process may vary slightly but they are essentially the same.

  • Obtain the necessary building permits, pay the applicable fees and begin construction. Follow steps 6 and 7 in Section 1 as building proceeds.

Tips & Warnings

  • Land zoned for agricultural use is the least restrictive zoning. Accessory buildings under 120 sq uare-feet don't require a building permit.
  • Larger projects may require approvals from such agencies as the Environmental Protection Agency or Department of Agriculture, depending on the project and proposed use of the site. If the project involves building in a flood plain, you will also need approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to obtain insurance for properties within the flood plain. Your plans may have to be adjusted accordingly.
  • If the outcome of your development submission is denied, you may either revise the development plan and repeat the process or appeal the denial to Oklahoma Circuit Court. If the ruling is unfavorable from the Circuit Court, you may plead your case before the state's Appeals Court.

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