How to Obtain a Building Permit

Citizen'S Guide To The Building Permit Process

2. Complete the application in its entirety. DO NOT leave half of the spaces blank. Inspectors are not mind readers. They will not remember the information from a permit you had 4 years ago. FILL in all the spaces. If the space is not applicable, mark it so or put N/A in the space. That way they know you did not leave out the information by mistake. (One of my favorite sentences from a prospective applicant is: “I spoke to you about a year and half ago, etc. etc.”. I always want to reply, ” Yes, and I’ve been patiently waiting for you” but I don’t.

3. Submit the application in a timely manner. Ask how long the average permit takes to issue and be patient. There are others in front of you waiting for their permits and depending upon the size of the department and the number of applications they receive, it could take 10 days or longer. PLAN AHEAD! DO NOT tell the inspector ” I have to have my permit tomorrow or my contractor says he can’t come back for 2 months”. You may hear “Tell your contractor you’ll see him/her in two months”. DO NOT ask to have your application jumped in front of others. No building department will do that and if they did, the next person who asks, will be jumped in front of YOU!

4. Submit the forms along with any required demande de permis de construire paperwork such as drawings, site plans, product information or other data that may help the building inspector understand what you want to build. They may ask for more information but if you submit it up front, your permit process will go that much more quickly. If they have to wait for more paperwork; the delay is yours, not theirs. Your 10 days (example) stops when they call, and restarts when you provide the information. If that takes you a week, just add that to the10 day period. Now your permit time is up to 17 days.

5. DO NOT call every day to see if your permit is ready. They will call you when it is done unless they tell you to call on such and such a date. DO NOT be a pest! Building departments do not purposely hold up your permit applications. Depending on the amount of permits being applied for, amount of inspections they have each day, number of walk-ins each day, is what controls the time frame for permit issuance.

6. DO keep a smile. Everyone reacts to the way they are treated so do unto others as the saying goes. During the busy building season in your area, the inspectors may have a larger workload to handle and everyone wants their swimming pool first!

Many permits have set fees and if that is the case, attach your check to your application so when you do go in to pick it up, it takes only a minute. You won’t have to wait for someone to receipt your money.

FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS-Read your permit paperwork once you receive it. In two of my jurisdictions both a plywood sign with the permit number painted in 8″ numbers is required at the end of the driveway and the permit card is required to be posted at the site on a plywood backer in a plastic bag. Many inspections are delayed or missed because the inspector could not find the house due to the plywood permit sign not being placed properly. When you call the office for an inspection, LISTEN to the instructions. Departments have different times required that you have to wait for any inspection. Many are 2-4 days but I know of a few that are 7 days. Ask if an inspection slip will be left in the plastic bag so you know the result of the inspection. Keep the slips for your records.

VERY IMPORTANT!!!! It is YOUR responsibility to make sure you have all the inspections required. Saying you thought he/she did the inspection will not work when you are asking for a final inspection or Certificate of Occupancy. Many departments have more than one inspector so the second inspector may not know if you had the previous