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Have a Building Project in Mind? Here’s How to Apply for a Permit

Before You Get Started

The process for applying for building permits varies by city or county, so your experience might be different depending on where you live. However, there are some common factors that you will need to keep in mind.

What type of construction is it?

One of the major considerations when applying for a building permit is what type of construction you are doing. You likely will need a different type of building permit if you are doing work on your home than if you are doing work on a business. You can check with your local building and safety office to find out.

Do you need a permit at all?

Not every type of work requires a building permit. For example, if you are having mostly cosmetic work done, a permit may not be required. If your project is do-it-yourself, you may not have to have a permit. Some jurisdictions only require licensed contractors to get permits. Again, this is something you should check at your city/town hall or local building department.

Application process

Once you have determined whether you need a building permit and what type you need, you can begin the application process. You likely will have to fill out an application, submit plans, have those plans approved and pay a fee to get the permit. If you are using a contractor for your project, that person probably will take care of the process of applying for a permit. If the project involves plumbing or electrical work, you likely will have to apply for separate permits for that work. In many jurisdictions, building departments have made the process easier by allowing people to apply for a permit online.

Once you have the permit

Once you have gotten a building permit, your work is not done. The permit will likely require several inspections of the project along the way, including a final inspection. If you don’t pass those inspections, work will have to stop until fixes are made. If you do not follow the requirements of the permit, your local building department could red tag the project, meaning no one can occupy the structure until the deficiencies are corrected.