How To Get a Building Permit: Step by Step

How To Get a Building Permit: Step by Step

Obtaining a building permit is a crucial step in any construction project, ensuring compliance with local regulations and safety standards. Every county can have it's own twist in the process. Some counties are more relaxed and some will make you pull your hair out. The fatal mistake is starting to build something without doing the proper process. While some areas you can get away with building, such as in off grid areas. Others will be with you step by step looking at every detail of your building project.

This comprehensive guide provides the basic step-by-step overview of the process involved in obtaining a building permit, from initial planning to final approval. These are usually typical in most counties but you will have to work with the one you are in, and by their rules and steps. By following these steps, you can at least navigate the permitting process efficiently and effectively.

Step 1: Understanding Building Permits
Before diving into the process, it is essential to understand what building permits are and why they are necessary. Building permits are legal documents issued by local authorities that grant permission for construction or renovation projects. They ensure compliance with zoning ordinances, building codes, and safety regulations. Building permits are generally required for various construction activities, including new structures, renovations, additions, and certain repairs.

Step 2: Preliminary Research:
Before starting the permit application process, conduct preliminary research to gather vital information. Review local building codes, zoning regulations, and permit requirements specific to your area. Understand the types of permits needed for your project, the associated fees, and any additional documentation or inspections that may be required.

Step 3: Developing Detailed Plans:
Detailed plans and drawings are essential for a successful permit application. Engage an architect, engineer, or design professional to create accurate and comprehensive blueprints that meet the local building code requirements. Ensure your plans include floor plans, elevation drawings, site plans, structural details, electrical and plumbing layouts, and any other necessary specifications.

Step 4: Engaging Professionals:
Depending on the complexity of your project, you may need to engage professionals such as architects, engineers, or surveyors. These experts will help ensure that your plans meet safety standards, building codes, and regulations. Collaborate with these professionals to address any design or structural issues and make the necessary revisions to your plans.

Step 5: Preparing Permit Application:
Once your plans are complete, gather all the required documents and forms to prepare your permit application. This typically includes completed application forms, detailed project description, construction plans, engineering calculations, site survey reports, proof of property ownership, and any other supporting documents specified by the local building department.
(Please see below for what to expect with the application)

Step 6: Submission and Review:
Submit your permit application to the local building department along with the required fees. The department will review your application for compliance with building codes, zoning regulations, and other relevant criteria. This review process may take several weeks, during which the authorities may request additional information or modifications to your plans.

Step 7: Corrections and Resubmission:
If the building department identifies any deficiencies or requests changes during the review process, address them promptly. Make the necessary corrections to your plans or provide the requested information and resubmit the revised application. Maintain clear communication with the building department to ensure a smooth and efficient resubmission process.

Step 8: Permit Approval:
Once your application meets all the requirements, the building department will grant approval for your building permit. You may receive the permit directly or be notified to collect it from the department's office. Review the approved plans, permits, and any accompanying conditions or restrictions to ensure compliance throughout the construction process.

Step 9: Construction Commencement:
With the approved permit in hand, you are now ready to begin the construction phase of your project. Before breaking ground, it is essential to adhere to the conditions and timelines specified in the building permit. Ensure that all construction activities are in line with the approved plans and follow local regulations and safety standards.

Step 10: Inspections and Final Approval:
Throughout the construction process, the building department will conduct inspections at various stages to verify compliance with the approved plans and building codes. The specific inspection points may vary depending on the nature of the project but typically include foundation, framing, electrical, plumbing, and final inspections.

Foundation Inspection: Before pouring concrete, the building inspector will verify that the foundation design and materials meet safety standards and are in accordance with the approved plans.

Framing Inspection: Once the structural framework of the building is complete, the framing inspection ensures that it aligns with the approved plans and complies with relevant building codes.

Electrical Inspection: This inspection checks the electrical installations, wiring, and components to ensure they meet electrical safety codes and standards.

Plumbing Inspection: The plumbing inspection confirms that the plumbing system complies with local plumbing codes and regulations, promoting water efficiency and preventing potential leaks.

Final Inspection: After all construction work is complete, a final inspection is conducted to ensure that the building is safe for occupancy and complies with all relevant building codes and regulations.

During each inspection, it is essential to have the approved plans on-site for reference, and the responsible contractor or builder should be present to address any concerns or questions raised by the building inspector.

If the inspector finds any issues or deviations from the approved plans during an inspection, they will issue a correction notice, indicating the necessary changes or fixes. It is crucial to rectify these issues promptly and schedule a re-inspection to demonstrate compliance before proceeding with the construction.

Once all inspections have been successfully completed, and the building is deemed compliant with the approved plans and local regulations, the building department will issue a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) or a similar document. This certificate officially allows occupancy and use of the building.

Step 11: Conclusion
Obtaining a building permit may seem like a daunting process, but it is a crucial step in ensuring the safety, legality, and compliance of your construction project. By following this step-by-step guide, you can navigate the permit application process smoothly and efficiently. Remember to conduct thorough research, engage professionals, and submit accurate and detailed plans to increase your chances of obtaining approval without significant delays. Adhering to building codes and cooperating with building inspectors during the construction phase will lead to a successful and safe building project.

Building permit application

What to Expect on a Building permit Application

A building permit application typically requires specific information and documentation to be provided. While the exact requirements may vary depending on the county, you can get the correct application from your counties building department. If you are working with a contractor or group already, they will either handle this process for you or can help you with the information. You should also get an idea of the costs, it usually is a percentage of your total construction costs. 


1. Applicant Information:
- Name, address, and contact information of the property owner or applicant.
- If applicable, the contact information of the authorized agent or contractor responsible for the project.

2. Project Details:
- Description of the proposed construction or renovation project.
- Type of project (e.g., new construction, renovation, addition, etc.).
- Purpose of the project (e.g., residential, commercial, industrial).
- Estimated project cost and timeline.

3. Property Information:
- Legal description of the property (lot number, block number, etc.).
- Property address, including street name and number.
- Property owner's information and proof of ownership (deed, title, etc.).
- Zoning information (residential, commercial, etc.).

4. Architectural and Engineering Plans:
- Detailed construction plans, including floor plans, elevations, and sections.
- Structural drawings and calculations.
- Electrical and plumbing layouts.
- HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system plans, if applicable.
- Site plan showing the building's location on the property and its relationship to other structures, setbacks, parking areas, etc.

5. Supporting Documentation:
- Environmental impact assessment or reports, if required.
- Energy efficiency compliance documentation, such as calculations or certifications.
- Soil test reports, if required.
- Fire safety plans, if applicable.

6. Additional Requirements:
- Evidence of compliance with accessibility standards (ADA compliance), if applicable.
- Documentation related to stormwater management, if required.
- Any special permits or approvals related to the project (e.g., historic preservation, special use permits).

7. Fees and Payment:
- Application fee, which varies depending on the jurisdiction and the scope of the project.
- Payment method for the fees (check, cash, online payment, etc.).

It's important to note that the specific requirements for a building permit application can vary significantly depending on the location and the specific project. Therefore, it is advisable to contact the local building department or permit office to obtain the precise application requirements and ensure that all necessary information and documentation are provided accurately.

Building a new home or any project on your property is a very exciting thing. Of course doing the paperwork and getting so many people involved on the other hand is not exciting. However, don't let it discourage you, they are mainly there to make sure things are up to code for your own safety. Just about all counties require these permits however more off-grid rural land is often overlooked or just left alone for smaller type projects. There are cases though of people building without permit and getting fines, or worse, having to demolish their build due to safety issues. It's best to follow guidelines from the start to avoid these issues. 


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