Understanding the Construction and Renovation Permit Process

At Russell Rowland, we frequently receive questions about the permit process for construction and renovation projects. Each state and local municipality has specific permit requirements that vary, so we understand the confusion! The complexity and timeframe for the permit process depends on the scope and location of the project. For the most part, there’s an overarching permit process you can use as a guide. Before you begin the building project, check your local requirements to determine the required submittals and to avoid fines or delays.

What is a Permit?

A building permit is an official, written document providing authorization from the local jurisdiction for a construction project to move forward. Building permits are issued by county or city governments. Failure to acquire the correct permits before starting your project can cause significant delays and added expenses. In some instances, it can even be punishable by law. It is essential to put the right team in place to ensure you follow the correct steps for your construction project, including the permit requirements.

When Do You Need a Permit?

Local building codes determine which projects require a permit. However, almost all construction or renovation projects require a permit, especially if the changes include any structural, electrical, or plumbing components. The Florida Building Code states any project with the intent to: construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure; orerect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system requires a permit.

Who Can Apply for a Permit?

Ultimately, the homeowner is responsible for the permit process. Yet, when you work with a Licensed Contractor, they will typically manage the permit process on your behalf. Do not hire unlicensed companies or individuals to work on your construction projects. The process becomes more complicated and your risks increase.

Licensed Contractors understand the permit process. They help you avoid fines and project mistakes by working within the guidelines of local building codes.

Steps in the Permit Process

Step 1 – Complete Permit Application

Each local government’s process for permit applications may vary. Follow each step in the designated Building Department’s application process.

Step 2 – Prepare the Construction Documents to Submit

Part of the approval process includes a review of the Construction Documents. In most states this includes architectural, structural, mechanical, and electrical plans developed by Licensed Design Professionals. Licensed Contactors understand the requirements of the individual jurisdiction and the plans required for permit approval.

Step 3 –Wait for Plan Approval

Depending on the complexity of your project, you may receive immediate approval or the process could take several weeks. Typically, no work can begin until you receive permit approval. Failure to receive approval can cause a Stop Work order. Any changes to the building plans will also require a revision to the permit and approval by the Building Department.

Step 4 – Receive the Permit

Once the permit is issued, the Contractor can begin work on the project. The permit must be posted in a visible location at the job site at all times.

Step 5 – Schedule Building Inspections

A permit notifies the local government of project initiation so they can ensure code compliance during the construction process. Building Inspectors review the as-built conditions to ensure the building matches the plans and the construction adheres to the local building code. Different steps in the construction process require incremental inspections. Work with experienced Contractors that know when to schedule inspections and the requirements to pass the inspection.

Step 6 – Project Completion and Final Approval

The permit process ends after the final inspection and approval. Permits have a valid timeframe and can expire if the project isn’t completed during the set time. The Building department will issue a CO (certificate of occupancy) stating that the building is in compliance with all applicable code and laws.

Follow the Right Permit Process

Don’t skip steps in the permit process! Regardless of the complexity, it’s best to adhere to the requirements from the start. Hire a team dedicated to doing the job right, this includes following the permit process.

At Russell Rowland, we work alongside other professionals, like your Architect and Contractor, to ensure your project runs smoothly.

Contact us to discuss your next construction project!