Site Plans and Permits: What You Need to Know

Site Plans and Permits: What You Need to Know

Ready to make some major renovations or maybe even add new structures on your property? Not so fast. No matter where you live, you’ll be subject to local building regulations and will likely need to obtain a special permit before you make any big changes.

Here are a few of the basic things you need to know about building permits.

Building regulations vary from city to city. If you’ve moved recently, the building regulations in your new city aren’t necessarily going to be the same as they were in your old hometown. Even if you’ve been living in the same city for ages, the nitty gritty details of building regulations often change from year to year, so make sure you’ve read up on the latest rules and know what’s required of you.

Even seemingly minor changes may require a permit. You may think that if you want to do something minor like put a privacy fence around your yard, you can just go ahead and do it. In reality, many cities require a building permit when you’re erecting any new structure on your property. The idea is to ensure that your home is up to the city’s current building codes, which are established with safety in mind. Make sure you talk to your local building office before you do any construction, no matter how small a project it seems to be.

Demolition also requires a building permit. Building permits aren’t just for additions. If you plan to do something like remove interior walls or demolish an existing structure like an in-ground swimming pool, you’ll also need to apply for a permit.

You need to submit a design blueprint to the local inspection office. Usually, getting a building permit isn’t too difficult as long as you are able to show the inspection office a high-quality blueprint of what you plan to do. That’s where site plans come in. MySitePlan can produce a professional site plan of your property, showing all visible structures, and send it to you as a PDF within 1-2 days so that you can get your project moving.

You need to collect signatures to proceed with your plan. The inspection office should reject or approve your application for building within about a month, and after that they’ll let you know who else you need a signature of approval from. That may include a zoning officer, city planner, fire marshal, or even someone from the local board of health if you’re doing something like making additions in a house with a septic system.

Although it might sound tedious, building codes are important for maintaining safety, and contractors or homeowners need to go through the process of getting a building permit in order to make sure they’re keeping up with current codes.

Make the process of applying for a permit that much easier by letting MySitePlan draw up your blueprints for you. 


Question Answer
Q1: How do I find out about the building regulations in my area? Contact your city or municipality's building department, check their website, visit in person, or call for detailed information.
Q2: What types of construction typically require a building permit? Structural changes such as additions, major renovations, demolitions, and minor constructions like fences or sheds usually need a permit. Always verify specific requirements with your local building office.
Q3: What happens if I proceed with construction without a permit? You may face penalties, fines, or be required to undo the work. Unpermitted work can also affect future property sales, as legal modifications are often a concern for buyers.
Q4: How long does it take to obtain a building permit? The review process typically takes about a month but can vary based on project complexity and local government efficiency. Apply well ahead of your planned start date.
Q5: What should be included in a design blueprint for permit approval? Include a detailed layout with dimensions, use of space, structural elements, and compliance with building codes. Ensure the blueprint is professionally drafted for accuracy and clarity.
Q6: Who needs to approve my building permit application? Approval may be required from the local building inspection office, zoning officer, city planner, fire marshal, or health board, particularly for significant modifications.
Q7: Are there exemptions to building permit requirements? Minor repairs and cosmetic updates like painting, flooring, and cabinetry might not need a permit. Confirm exemptions with your local building office as they can vary by location.



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  • Juliana Weiss-Roessler