Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need a building permit?

Building permits are a safety issue – plain and simple. By requiring building permits, we are able to inspect projects and ensure that construction standards and codes are met giving you and the other occupants of the building confidence that the project has been completed to highest building safety standards. And if you move, the permit/inspection process protects you, as well as any future occupants. Safety is of such importance that your elected officials have enacted ordinances requiring building permits for most projects. Failure to obtain a valid building permit and inspections may mean more than just a fine for you or your contractor – it may result in substandard work, damage to your home or property or even injury to yourself and loved ones. But, again, there are plenty of positive reasons for following the permit process, such as:

It keeps your contractor honest.
To beat out the price of a competitor, a profit-driven contractor might be tempted to cut corners. Would you know if he did? Most construction work ends up hidden behind walls and under floors. A building permit requires that a contractor use sound and safe methods and materials, and have required inspections.

It guides your do-it-yourself project.
No matter how handy you are, you aren’t likely to know everything about modern building practices. When you obtain a permit, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your project and plans with a certified inspector. Taking a few minutes before your project begins to apply for a building permit and talk with an inspector could save you hours, even days addressing work that’s dangerous or unsound.

It keeps your insurance valid.
Building, plumbing or electrical projects undertaken without a permit can mean that your insurance company may not honor your policy should something happen to your home or building. A fire resulting from work done without a permit and inspections could leave you “holding the bag.” Likewise, projects that result in personal injury at your home or building may leave you as a property owner responsible if appropriate permits and inspections were not obtained.

It’s valuable when you sell your home.
If you perform work without a permit, you can assume a potential buyer will know about it. The permit process is a matter of public record. In addition, you may be required to sign a Property Disclosure Statement, in which you have to reveal all problems or defects in the property. Having all the necessary permits can make your home or building much more attractive to a potential buyer and the sale proceed more smoothly.

Apply for a Building Permit

When is a permit needed?

A permit application should be submitted prior to the start of any construction or renovation project. Applications are available at the Building Department in City Hall or online. Completed applications, along with any supporting documents (contracts, site plans, material list, etc.) can then be returned to the building department for review. No work should be started prior to receiving an approved permit.

Permits are needed for all new buildings and improvement to existing structures, including fences, additions, decks, sheds, porch repairs, siding, roofs, windows, garages, driveways, concrete patio slabs, swimming pools, and temporary and permanent signs. If working with a contractor or subcontractor, they should handle permit applications, inspections, and any other related requirements. If your contractor or builder suggests that your project doesn’t need a permit be wary and check with the building department yourself, as most projects do require that permits be obtained.

Again, obtaining a permit means the work will be inspected by the necessary inspectors and officials. As a homeowner, this is good for you. A permit ensures oversight of your contractor’s work (or yours). The scrutiny of an inspector can guard against mistakes and shoddy workmanship and ensure that the work is successfully completed. You’ll sleep better knowing your project meets the minimum safety standards for both materials and construction techniques.

Can I do my own work?

In certain situations, homeowners are permitted to perform repairs on their residence. Even if doing repairs themselves, homeowners still need to pull their own permits and have projects inspected and compliant with the current building codes. Landlords who wish to make construction repairs on rental properties are required to be a licensed contractor. If not, they must have a licensed contractor obtain the permits and perform the repairs.

Who should obtain the permit?

The person that secures the permit is the person who is held responsible for the work that is done. If a homeowner hires a contractor, the contractor should always apply for the permit. The Building Department has no jurisdiction over a contractor if the homeowner has applied for and received a permit under the homeowner’s name. Homeowners should also confirm that the contractor is properly licensed, and that, if selected to do a project, they acquire all necessary permits and schedule all required inspections.

Protect yourself as a consumer

When hiring a contractor to work at your home…

  •  Always make sure that your contractor shows you the copy of the permit, and displays it in visible location.
  • Finally, it is recommended that homeowners never pay in full up front for any project. It is recommended that homeowners initially pay a minimal amount, with partial payments made during the course of construction as work is completed, with the final payment held until the Building Department gives a full final approval to the project.

How and when to schedule inspections?

To ensure that inspections are completed in a timely manner, always plan on contacting the Building Department the day before you want to schedule an inspection. At that time, you will need to provide the site address. All inspections will be scheduled for the day following when the request was made day except for ice guard and sheeting inspections for roofing. Ice guard and sheeting inspections can be called-in for inspections on the same day, but do require a minimum of 3 hours prior notice. It is the responsibility of the permit holder to call for the required inspections, whether for electrical, plumbing, mechanical, or building permits. Final Building inspections can be ordered only after the final Electrical, Plumbing and Heating inspections are conducted and approved.

How long is my permit good for?

Once issued, building permits are active for 6 months and shall be posted at the jobsite until the work receives final approval.

When is a Certificate of Occupancy issued for a home?

When a new home is constructed or an addition built to an existing home, a Certificate of Occupancy is issued once all permits have final approval.

What is required to open a new business the City?

Any new business or changes to a business requires a Zoning Compliance Inspection prior to obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy. 

An Zoning Compliance application needs to be filled out and submitted to the Building Department along with a letter of intent and a site plan and/or floor plan. The application fee is $100. Inspections will then be set up prior to the opening of the business. Once all inspections are complete, and corrections made, if required, a final approval has been given, a Certificate of Occupancy is issued.

Zoning Compliance Application

Also, visit our Economic Development Department for information on tax incentives, financial assistance and other resources.