Getting permits can require a lot, especially getting a building permit. If you're in Philadelphia, here's how you can get your building permit.

Step-by-Step Guide to Getting a Building Permit

Are you ready to build a new home or business? Or maybe you've got plans in hand to do some major renovations?

The Uniform Construction Code (UCC) ensures the protection of life, health, property and the environment during construction work in Pennsylvania. UCC enforcement responsibilities fall upon Pennsylvania municipalities that have opted in, which includes Philadelphia.

You're going to need a Philadelphia building permit to build a new structure or tackle major renovations. Getting a building permit can seem like a complicated process that requires tons of work, but with this simple guide, you'll be on your way to painting your new walls in no time.

First Things First: Determine Your Need

You're going to need a building permit for any new construction, changes to an existing structure, changes in occupancy limit, and any new installations of mechanical systems or fire suppression.

The most common needs for building permits are the building of new structures and altering existing ones.

New Structure Building Permit

Here are the steps to get a permit for new construction work in Philadelphia.

1. Check for Exemptions

The first step to getting a building permit: check for any exemptions you might qualify for before going forward with the application process!

2. Determine Submittal Fees

Second, get your submittal fees together. A one to two-family dwelling costs $25, and anything else costs $100.

3. Check Off Your Application Requirements

Here are the application requirements for Philadelphia building permits:

  • Application form
  • Valid L&I Use and Zoning Registration Permit
  • 3 different sets of building plans
  • Geotechnical Soils Report
  • L&I Energy Conservation Form
  • L&I Special Inspections Forms (under certain conditions)
  • L&I Structural Design Form

4. Make Sure Your Prerequisite Approvals Are All Set

You'll need prerequisite approvals from the Streets Department, Water Department, Historical Commission, Art Commission, and Planning Commission.

5. Check for Prerequisites from Other Agencies

Fifth, make sure you don't need prerequisite approvals from any other agencies, such as the Fairmount Park Commission, Fire Department, Health Department, and Air Management Services.

Finally, after all is said and done and your paperwork is in, relax! Go over your plans one more time, and get ready for what's to come!

Alterations Permit

The process for obtaining a permit for alterations is very similar to that of a new building permit. Here are the steps you'll need to take to submit a permit application before you tackle any renovations or alterations.

1. Check for Exemptions

Similar to the new structure permit, the first step is to check and make sure you don't qualify for any permit exemptions.

2. Determine Submittal Fees

Next, get your fees together. Like the new structure permit, it's $25 for a one to two-family dwelling and $100 for all other types of structures.

3. Gather Application Requirements

Third, get your application materials together. A few materials in this category aren't in the new structure permit package:

  • Application Form
  • Valid L&I Use Registration Permit
  • 3 different sets of building plans
  • L&I Energy Conservation Form
  • L&I Special Inspections Forms (under certain conditions)
  • L&I Structural Design Form (under certain conditions)
  • Asbestos Inspection results from Health Department
  • L&I Hazardous Materials Form (under certain conditions)

4. Get Prerequisite Approvals Met

You'll need prerequisite approvals from the Streets Department, Water Department, Historical Commission, Art Commission, and Planning Commission.

5. Check for Prerequisites From Other Agencies

Next, double-check for necessary approvals from any additional agencies such as the Health Department or Air Management Services.

That's it! If you follow the steps above, within 15 to 20 days you'll have your permits approved! Be sure to check out some of the top permit deficiencies and make sure none of them apply to you.

Common Questions (FAQs)

Still have a few questions about the permit application? Here are some of our most frequently asked questions and their answers.

How Much Is a Building Permit in Philadelphia?

The application fee to get a building permit for a one- or two-family dwelling is $25. An application for any other property type will cost $100.

The actual permit fee varies depending on the work you plan to do. Check out the full list of fees from theDepartment of Licenses and Inspections, or give the department a call if you're unsure.

What Kind of Home Improvements Require Permits in Philadelphia?

According to Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections, a permit is required in the following situations:

  • New construction
  • Alterations to existing structures, such as expansions and additions
  • Changes in occupancy classification
  • Installation or modification of mechanical systems or fire repression

Minor renovations like ordinary household repairs, painting and carpet installation do not require a permit. Permits are necessary only for renovations that affect the property's structure.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Building Permit in Philadelphia?

It takes approximately 15 days to process a permit for a one- or two-family dwelling. Any other property types will take about 20 days.

Who Issues Building Permits in Philadelphia?

Building permits in Philadelphia are issued by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

How Do I Get a Certificate of Occupancy in Philadelphia?

You can get a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) from — you guessed it — the Department of Licenses and Inspections. A CO is automatically issued upon completion of some building permits, so keep an eye out.

If the occupancy changes without the need for a building permit, such as in the case of alterations that impact fire ratings or exits, you'll need to apply for a CO separately and pay a fee. Learn more from the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

Getting a Building Permit Isn't So Hard

It's true that many steps are involved in the process of getting a permit for renovations or construction. But with an organized team and an efficient plan of attack, we can easily tackle the permit process together.

From designs to permits, we cover it all at Designblendz. Get in touch today to talk about your next project!


About The Author

Hi, we're the Designblendz team! Our mission is to raise the standard of how the built environment is designed, visualized, and constructed by blending overlapping design disciplines that merge the virtual and physical world together.