Before you can begin any work on a construction project – big or small – you’ll need to obtain the proper building permits. This is a multi-step process that demands planning and a deep understanding of local regulations. Follow our step-by-step guide to get a building permit for your next development.

Understanding Your Project

Your first step is to define your project’s type and intended use. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I building – Is this a new development, an addition, or a remodel?
  • What type of development is it – Is this a residential, commercial, or industrial development?
  • Where is the project located – Locations and land use can affect specific regulations you’ll need to follow.
  • How big is the project – The square footage and the complexity of your project will impact the permit requirements.

You should also consider any requirements during the construction phase. Will there be temporary on-site accommodation for the construction crew; will there be a temporary access road; and will you need to move or remove any trees? Depending on your local building department, you may need permits for this too.

Research Local Regulations

Every city, county, and municipality has its own set of zoning laws, building codes, and other regulations. Check if the local building department has their regulations published online. This will make it easier for you to research the permits you will need, zoning restrictions, along with other specific requirements. You might be able to schedule a meeting with the department, which will help clear up any uncertainty before you submit your application.

Draft Detailed Plans

Work with licensed architects and engineers to draft official construction plans, including site plans, floor plans, electrical and plumbing schematics, and more. These detailed diagrams will show your project’s compliance with building codes.

Prepare the Application Packet

A complete permit application package makes the approval process smoother. Most building departments will require:

  • Completed permit application form: This form should be available on your local building department’s website.
  • Construction plans: Ensure the plans are up to current standards and clearly labeled.
  • Supporting documents: These may include proof of ownership, contractor’s license and insurance, environmental impact reports (if required), and other specified documents.

Submitting an incomplete application will delay the entire process.

Submit Your Application and Pay Fees

With your application assembled, you can submit it for review to your local permitting office. This used to be done in person, but many areas now allow online submissions. If your local building department uses eCheck technology by Archistar, your electronic submission will be automatically assessed for compliance. If it fails, you have an opportunity to correct any issues and resubmit. If you submission is accepted, it does not mean it has been approved. The building department still needs to work through it manually.

You’ll also be required to pay any applicable permit fees at this time. These can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on your project’s size, location, and complexity.

Wait for Review Process

Your application needs to go through a review process by all relevant municipal departments. All your submitted plans will be evaluated against local codes and regulations. Depending on how busy the department is, and the complexity of your development, this could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. It helps to be patient, but you can follow up periodically.

Building Permit Issued

If all requirements are met, your building permit will be issued. This is the legal permission you need to begin construction. The permit will also outline specific conditions that must be upheld. Read it carefully, and ensure you adhere to all the conditions.

Schedule Inspections

Throughout your construction, the building department will conduct inspections at key stages. These include footings, framing, electrical, plumbing, insulation, and final occupancy. Inspectors will check that all work is being completed per the approved plans and permit stipulations. Schedule these inspections in advance.

Final Occupancy Approval

The local building department will conduct a final inspection once all work is completed. If there are no issues, you will be issued with a Certificate of Occupancy or Completion. This shows that the building complies with all codes and is safe to occupy.

This guide covers the common steps involved in obtaining a building permit. However, specific requirements will vary across locations, so it is essential to always check what these are. The better you understand and adhere to these requirements, the better your chances are of being issued with the required permits. If they’re not using it, speak to your local planning department about requesting a demo of eCheck. This will allow them to see how it can streamline the permitting process for the department, the city, and local developers.