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Construction Permits and Inspections FAQs

You do not need a permit if you are building, installing, repairing or replacing:

  • a counter, wall, or partition less than five feet nine inches in height.
  • a water tank that holds less than 5,000 gallons, is placed directly on the floor, and is not more that twice as tall as it is wide.
  • a platform (decks, balconies, boardwalk, etc.) not more than 30 inches above grade.
  • painting, wall papering, floor covering, or similar finish work.
  • window awnings supported by an exterior wall and not projecting more than 54 inches.
  • a pre-fabricated swimming pool with walls entirely above ground and a capacity less than 5,000 gallons.
  • exterior replastering (including architectural applications) that does not require lath.
  • any wall or edging used for landscaping purposes not more than 2 feet high or 1 foot wide.
  • a one-story detached accessory building such as a tool and storage sheds, playhouses, or similar uses, with a floor area less than 120 square feet.
  • a leak in drains, soil, waste or vent pipes provided that repair does not require total replacement.
  • stoppages or leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures.
  • removal and reinstallation of water closets in the same location.
  • motors or other portable appliances energized by means of a cord having an attachment plug end.
  • replacing motors, transformers or appliances with the same type and rating in the same location.
  • temporary decorative lighting.
  • reinstallation of attachment plug receptacles, but not the outlets.

Any other work that involves erecting, constructing, installing, enlarging, altering, repairing, or demolishing requires a building, plumbing or electrical permit.

Any project that requires a permit must be permitted before any work begins. Starting a project before a permit is issued, or not getting a permit at all, will result in the homeowner being assessed a double fee when the violation is detected.

For residential building projects, including roof work, yard wall construction, porches, or sheds, the homeowner can request the permit and do the work themselves. All heating and cooling work must be completed and permitted by a contractor holding the appropriate license. For plumbing and electrical work, there is a written test that the city will administer. If you pass the test, you can do the work on your own. If not, you will need to hire a licensed contractor. Anytime you are paying someone else for contracting services, they must be licensed and they must request a permit.

Some residential permits can be issued “Over the Counter”. This means that essentially you, or your contractor, can walk in, apply for and receive the permit while you wait. If you prefer, you can request a complete review of your residential project. All commercial projects, including apartments, require a complete review. The cost of the permit is based on the value of the work being done.

For a building permit, you will need a site plan showing the work that will be done, the property lines and distances from the property lines to the proposed construction. Plumbing, electrical and mechanical permits do not require submittal of any documentation aside from the permit application.

You must have a permit to build a wall more than 2 feet tall. If you are building the wall yourself, you can request the permit. If you are paying someone else to build the wall for you, they must be licensed and they have to request the permit. If the wall is going to be built on a property line, you will need to provide the city with written permission from the property owner on the other side of the wall.