As Spring approaches, people start to think about a new shed, deck or a pool, perhaps, but have no idea if they need a building permit or how to get one. The rules and laws regarding these items are as varied as you could possibly imagine. Many states require no permits for these items at all. Others require permits for not only these items but things, like stairs, roofing, siding, sidewalks, patios, toilets or HW heater replacements and on and on.
How do you know if you need a permit? Call your local building department and ask. It takes only a few minutes and can avoid a violation arriving in the mail for failure to obtain a permit. Many municipalities have websites that are quite sophisticated and you may download permit applications and read local zoning laws and requirements online. If by chance you need a variance to build in your area, it can take 3-4 months for that process to complete at the Zoning Board of Appeals including the required public hearings. Start the application process now even if you want to build in July. In most places the permits are good for at least a year (some more) so even if it comes a month or two early, you will have plenty of time to do the work. Permit fees also vary widely from area to area. Ask your building inspector for a fee list so there are no surprises when you go to pickup your permit.
Many times people are just unaware that they need a permit to build that shed or pool in their yard. My offices provide a “Red Ball’ card that is to be displayed in clear view of the street while the construction work is going on. Passers-by know that the owner has obtained a proper permit and the buildings inspectors can more easily find the home for inspections.
Many Building Departments have both long and short form applications as well as special applications for pools, septic, decks, etc.. Tell the inspector or secretary what you wish to build before you fill out the wrong application form and have to start all over again. Try and complete as much of the application as you possibly can before you go back to their office IECC . They will surely help you wirth questions but will not do the form for you.
Your Friendly Building Inspector
Pete is a 30+ year building inspector with experience in both public and private construction industries. From schools to treatment plants, from private homes and condo projects, to large residential landscaping projects