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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yelvington

How to Get a Building Permit

Embarking on a home renovation or other building project?

In this post I'm going to show you, step-by-step, what you will need to do in order to obtain a building permit.

Step 1 - Consider Consulting With a Permit Expeditor

A building permit application can be long and confusing, a daunting task for the average homeowner to fill out. A professional permit expediter can be retained to prepare and process the permit application package. Some full-service expediters can assist with the entire list of requirements in order to save the homeowner time.

A permit expediter can fill out the permit application after reviewing the proposed renovation drawings to determine the scope of work. They will input that data and then have the homeowner sign the application before submission to the building department.

Full service expediters are often known within the local building departments and act as a liaison between the homeowner and their design-build team. Coordination of all requirements for the processing of building permits and zoning variance applications is a service well worth the investment for owners looking to save time, money and frustration with their project.

If you are going to be handling everything on your own - the next step is to check with your local building department for a list of the types of renovations that require building permits. Once you've confirmed you will, in fact, need a permit.

Step 2 - Plans of the proposed renovation work, prepared and sealed by a Registered Design Professional (RDP)

The “Scope of Work” (SOW) for the proposed renovation will usually determine whether or not the drawings are required to be sealed by a registered design professional (i.e. architect or engineer); some small renovations do not require sealed plans in many townships.

Step 3 - Property survey, dated within one year

A licensed Land Surveyor should be retained to perform a new property survey of the parcel, which will then show all of the current structures on the site. It is possible to obtain a copy of a property survey from the records of your local building department, but those are typically old and outdated. If a permit application is submitted with an old survey, it can affect the timeframe for permit issuance if undocumented structures are identified during the process. You’ll literally have to go back to the drawing board and provide plans for all items that require legalization.

Step 4 - Contractor’s name, copy of Home Improvement license, insurance documents

You must use a licensed contractor when filing for a building permit. This provides a safeguard for the property owner, and also the local municipality who will inspect the work. Typically the building department will ask to be listed on the contractor’s insurance documents as the “Certificate Holder” and/or as the “additionally insured” party.

It is possible for a homeowner to file for a permit stating that they are doing the work themselves, but then an affidavit will need to be signed, or filed, for "workers compensation exemption."

Step 5 - Cost of construction quote (used to calculate the permit fee)

A copy of your contractor’s estimate will indicate the scope of work, the materials to be used and the cost of anticipated labor.

Step 6 - Building permit application (signed by homeowner & notarized)

A permit application usually requires the property owner’s name and address, property location, tax map number, scope of work, square footage involved, cost estimate, contractor’s name and contact information, design professional’s contact information, the owner’s “agent” or expediter’s name, and the homeowner’s notarized signature.

Step 7 - Plumbing permit application, if applicable

New plumbing work requires a licensed plumber to file for a plumbing permit with the local municipality; license and insurance documents are required for submission.

Step 8 - Application fee, for initial submission

A small application fee is typically received upon the initial submission of a permit application package. This amount will later be deducted from he “total building permit fee.”

Step 9 - Permit fee

A personal check made out to the township, or a credit card payment, will usually be received by the building department once the total permit fee is calculated, and before the permit is issued.

Step 10 - Post your permit

Once you have received your approved plans and permit documents, review them thoroughly and take note of the "required inspections" that your township imposes on your construction project.

Your contractor should be handing you "approved inspection tickets" for each phase of work. This is your way of knowing that the work was done according to code requirements. Remember to "post your permit card" in your front window.

If you would prefer to get all of the above taken care of from start to finish, and have the peace of mind to know everything was done right, contact us at the link below for a free consultation.


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