How to Apply for a Demolition Permit

How to Apply for a Demolition Permit

Hoping to knock down a wall and expand your home? Not so fast. If you’re going to alter the structure of your house or make any changes that affect plumbing or electric wiring, you have to get a permit to do so. The good news is that once you get all your paperwork in order, you shouldn’t encounter obstacles to getting your demolition permit. But how do you go about getting those documents in order and applying for a permit?

The short answer is: it depends. The application process varies from city to city, so the best way to find out the requirements for your local area is to visit your city government’s website. However, even though there may be slight variations in the rules of different municipalities, there are several common things that you’ll encounter when applying for a demolition permit in just about any city. Here are a few things you’ll likely have to do:

Determine whether new construction is permitted. Chances are, you’re tearing something down because you want to put something new up, so before you get a demolition permit, you should verify with your city planning department that new construction is permitted in your residential area. If you live in a house that is more than 40 years old, your city’s Historic Preservation office may also have to review your plans.

Get a site plan. In order to get a demolition permit from the city, you will have to show them a detailed site plan with your street address as well as the location of any structures on your property and their dimensions. If you don’t already have this, you don’t need to stress. MySitePlan can quickly and accurately provide you with a site plan using up-to-date satellite imagery.

Agree to city building codes. Before your city gives you a demolition permit, they’ll likely ask you to sign a document saying that you’ll adhere to city building codes. Make sure that you’ve reviewed your city building codes ahead of time so that you won’t run into any problems with your project.

Pay a permit fee. Permits rarely come for free, so be prepared to pay for your demolition permit. Exact costs will vary from place to place; again, this is information that you should be able to find on your city government’s website.

Adhere to your city’s requirements for getting a demolition permit and you shouldn’t have any trouble moving forward with your project. 


Question Answer
What are the consequences of not obtaining a demolition permit? Failing to secure a demolition permit can result in hefty fines, legal action, and the possibility of having to undo the demolition work. It also risks safety violations and potential conflicts with city planning departments.
How long does it generally take to receive a demolition permit once applied? The timeline can vary significantly based on local government processes, but typically, it ranges from a few days to several weeks. Complex cases, especially those involving historical preservation or environmental concerns, may take longer.
Are there any exceptions that allow for demolition without a permit? Generally, most jurisdictions require a permit for any significant structural changes. However, minor demolitions, like small outbuildings or non-permanent structures, may not require a permit in some areas. Always check with local authorities.
How can disputes over demolition permits be resolved? Disputes can often be resolved through discussions with the local permitting office, or by appealing the decision in municipal court. Consulting with a legal professional who specializes in local real estate or construction law can also be beneficial.
What are the environmental considerations in the demolition permit process? Environmental considerations may include the handling and disposal of hazardous materials like asbestos, minimizing dust, noise control, and ensuring that the demolition doesn't negatively impact local wildlife or ecosystems.
How does the presence of asbestos affect the demolition permit process? If asbestos is present, additional permits and safety procedures, including professional asbestos removal, containment, and proper disposal, must be followed to mitigate health risks. This can also affect the overall timeline and cost of the demolition permit process.

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  • Ryan Crownholm