When do I need a permit?

In general, permits are required to erect, construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, improve, remove, convert, or demolish any building or structure. Here are some of the typical exemptions from building permits:

  • One-story structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses provided that they are less than 200 square feet when accessory to one- and two-family dwelling buildings, or when accessory to any other buildings and they are less than 120 square feet
  • Fences not over 7 feet high.  (Fences less than 7 feet high require a Zoning Permit - contact the Planning Department at 498-9240 for details.)
  • Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing and not supporting a surcharge
  • Sidewalks and driveways serving one- and two-family dwellings, or where serving other buildings, and they are not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade, not over any basement or story below, or not part of an accessible route
  • Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops, and similar work
  • Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to one- and two-family dwellings and less than 24 inches deep
  • Window awnings on one- and two-family dwellings and not projecting more than 54 inches
  • Portable heating or cooling equipment
  • Clearing of stoppages, or the repairing of leaks, provided that such work does not involve the replacement of any concealed piping and does not require the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes, or fixtures
  • Installation of roll-up doors serving unconditioned spaces and not including the creation or change in size of openings
  • Ground-mounted signs not exceeding six feet in height above grade

Keep in mind that exemption from a building permit does not grant exemption from any other requirements of the code, and you may still be required to obtain permits from other City departments. For a list of all permit exemptions, refer to the 2015 International Residential and Building Codes.

Show All Answers

1. When do I need a permit?
2. If I buy a prebuilt shed and have it delivered, do I need a permit?
3. May I start work before my permit is issued?
4. May I do my own work?
5. May I apply for a permit online? May I pay for a permit online?
6. What do I need to apply for a permit?
7. How many sets of plans should I submit? Do I need an architect or engineer?
8. How long will it take to get my permit?
9. How long does it take to review plans for residential construction?
10. Is there anything else I should be aware of before I pick up materials? Do all manufactured products (e.g., windows, insulation, handrails) meet building code requirements?
11. What inspections do I need?
12. How do I schedule an inspection?
13. How far ahead do I have to call to request the inspection?
14. Do I need to be present for the inspection?
15. How should I prepare for an inspection?