APPLY FOR A BUILDING PERMIT
A building permit is required by almost every city
or county in the United States in order to construct
or alter a building or structure. Most states require
that all construction work on a building that requires
a permit also be done by a licensed contractor. Some
states allow an exemption, however, for homeowners who
build or make improvements for their own personal residence.
Apply for a building permit now by finding your
state using the map below.
The first step is to obtain the proper application from the city or county in which you wish to build or make improvements. If you live in an incorporated city, then you would likely apply with your city building department. However, if you live in an unincorporated town, you likely would apply for a permit with the county building department. In some areas, the city and county are one and the same entity.
Applications sometimes differ by the type of construction
that will be taking place, and some jurisdictions have
a universal permit application. The different kinds
of applications that are customary include the following:
New Buildings (Residential or Commercial)
Alterations and Improvements
Swimming Pools, Spas, and Decks
Storage facilities, barns, and temporary structures
The building permit application will usually require
you to submit the following:
A set of building plans
A set of material specifications
A description of the project, including its location
Anticipated costs of the project and how it will be
Soil tests, structural engineer analysis, or environmental
The general contractor for the job and their license
Proof of insurance or bond
Your personal information, social security number,
or federal tax identification number
The building and site plans will generally require
Structural drawings, with dimensions and elevations
Site plan with setbacks, zoning specifications and
grading, drainage and access
Floor plans for the structure
Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC plans
Engineering data and plans, as well as architectural
plans usually require the signature of professionals
that the plans and drawings meet applicable legal requirements.
The building permit must be submitted and
then it must go through the permitting process. The
land use or zoning department will review the site plans
for compliance with the local land use ordinance to
make sure the structure is being built in a properly
zoned area, that it meets the minimum height requirements
and setbacks (the minimal distances between structures
and the property line), and lot coverage, density and
parking ratios. This department or a related one also
reviews grading, drainage, and public access. If your
plans do not meet the ordinance, some jurisdictions
allow you to apply for a variance, which is an exception
to the rule based on local guidelines or where the local
ordinance allows for degrees of discretion.
The local building departments will run the
plans through their construction experts or will contract
with outside consultants to review the plans. These
experts must review the plans for compliance with the
local building code for safety and system requirements,
such as electrical, sewer, and structural soundness.
Like most phases of the building permit process, if
the application is rejected, you may be allowed to amend
or you can seek an appeal with the local appeals board.
Once the plan and site review is done, the
city may, unless other special circumstances exist,
issue the building permit. However, most buildings also
require additional permit for various aspects of the
construction, such as electrical permits, HVAC permits,
plumbing permits and sewer hook up fees, or gas lines
and tank permits. The city will normally issue a list
of conditions for a project that must be met before
final inspection will be approved. On large projects
these letters of conditions can be quite large and may
include such things as adding streets, sidewalks, water
tanks, additional sewage facilities, or street lights,
and can be very costly.
Once construction is under way, there will
be various inspection points by different city or county
agencies to determine if code compliance is being met.
Health and environmental divisions of the local jurisdiction
may inspect the sewer installation, and engineering
departments may inspect foundations, sidewalks, or retaining
walls. Soil experts may inspect soil for compaction.
All electrical, gas, plumbing and HVAC work will require
inspections. Then there will be the general inspections
to the structure, with the last inspection resulting
in a certificate of occupancy or other type of occupancy
permit that allows the structure to be used by the public.
A building permit application approval process can
be as quick as 30 days or as long as a year, depending
on the project and the city or countys capacity.
Building permits usually have expiration dates and
work must be started and completed within a given
time frame before extensions must be requested.