The Building Department was created to administer and enforce building codes and ordinances established by both City and State agencies. Building codes provide safeguards in providing minimum standards for the protection of life, limb, health, environment, public safety and welfare, and for the conservation of energy in the design and construction of buildings and structures. Whether in our homes, offices, schools, factories or places of entertainment, we rely on the safety of structures that surround us in everyday living.
All structures—from office buildings to single family homes to decks and sheds—are required to meet building safety codes. To ensure that these safety codes are met, the building inspector visits the structure during construction and upon completion. You need a permit so the Building Department knows what kind of work you’re doing and can send the inspector to complete the inspection. In addition to helping make sure your home improvements are done safely, securing a permit is part of maintaining the record on your property. When someone is considering purchasing property, it can be valuable to know what work has been done on the property, when it was completed and who completed it.
It takes time and human resources to maintain and process permits, maintain records and generally help ensure that the buildings we live and work in are safe. Fees are collected to cover the cost of the application, plan review and the inspection process.
The Planning and Building Departments have to work very closely, and it’s likely that you’ll need to work with both departments if you’re planning a home improvement or new construction project. In general, the Planning Department is responsible for verifying zoning and subdivision control ordinances to ensure that property setback requirements are met, and the Building Department is responsible for seeing that city and state building codes are followed. So, if you’re planning to add on or remodel your home, build a fence, construct a deck or add some other structure to your property, your first stop is the Planning Department, where they’ll help ensure that your project meets zoning and land use requirements. Then, once you have approval from the Planning Department, you’ll visit the Building Department for a permit. Throughout the project, you’ll contact the Building Department to schedule inspections.