How to Apply for a Building Permit

Whether you are building a new home or renovating an existing home, chances are you will need a building permit. Even some outdoor projects, such as building a fence or adding a deck in the yard, require a building permit. Building permit requirements vary from state to state. Some even vary from city to city. However, all of these permits serve the same purpose--to ensure that your structure is safe.

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Come up with a tentative plan. As part of the building permit application, you will have to describe, and possibly draw, your plans.

Determine what jobs you will need a professional to complete. For example, adding an oil burning fireplace to a home or adding stairs to a building must be done by a licensed professional.

Contact your local building office or code enforcement office. One of these two offices will be the one that issues the permits. When you contact the office, ask if you can pick up an application or have one mailed to you.

Determine how many permits are needed for your project. For example, if you are adding a bathroom, you will need three permits: a basic building permit, an electrical permit and a plumbing permit.

Complete the application packet and return it to the office. When you return it, you will have to remit an application fee. Do this with a money order if possible. Some states require that your check clear the bank before the permit will be issued, which may slow down your permit and put your project on hold.

Schedule a time for an inspection. For most jobs, an inspector will come to the job site before the permit is issued. He may come out periodically while the job is in progress and again when it is completed.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you haven't received your permit within 30 days of submitting your application, contact the issuing office for an update. If you are applying for a building permit for a multifamily dwelling or a public building, you may need a temporary certificate of occupancy to allow people into the building during the renovation. This is important if you want to keep a portion of your business open or if you have tenants living in apartments in the same building in which renovations are going on.
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