When you get ready to engage in a home improvement project, most communities require that you obtain a construction permit. The construction permit allows the community building inspectors to inspect your work to make sure that your building or remodeling meets all applicable community building codes. This also includes and environmental building codes that may have been adopted at the time you applied for your construction permit.
The permit will give you information concerning the types of materials that are permitted in the remodel or construction, the referenced sections of building codes that you need to be aware of, and any other information of value to you during your construction project,
Not knowing how to read the construction permit is not seen as an excuse for breaking applicable building codes within your community. Taking the time to understand what is in your construction permit will save you time and any ensuing problems, as well as costs in terms of having to redo a project or pay a fine for violating a city ordinance or building code.
Apply for the Construction Permit
To understand what is in a construction permit, you need to apply for the construction permit. Each community has a different process for obtaining a construction permit, but it is typically handled by your local building inspector's office. Go to the building inspector's office for the community in which you live or, if available, download the required forms online. Complete the building or construction permit application to the best of your ability in order to obtain the permit.
Get a Copy of the Building Code
The building code for the community that you live in is typically based, in part, on the Uniform Building Code, which is a set of uniform provisions found from community to community. To find out which codes impact the project for which you received the permit, look at the permit itself. There should be a reference or notation of the applicable building codes that relate to your construction project.
Go to a local library, building inspector's office, or online and access a current copy of the building codes. Copy the sections that were cited in your construction permit. Here you will find the specific standards and guidance necessary to meet the building requirements for your community with respect to your building project.
Ask questions of the building inspector's office on any area of the construction permit that you do not understand. The building inspector understands, certainly for a first-time do-it-yourselfer who may not be as familiar with the construction process and permitting, that you may not be familiar with all of the parts to the permit. Asking questions and seeking clarification is the only way to understand how to meet the requirements of the local building code.