Township Building Permits – Overview
Many times, residents do not know they need a permit to put a shed on their property or a fence, as well as a swimming pool. We hear often, “I didn’t know I needed a permit” or “Do I need a permit?” The answer is simple. YES, a building permit is needed anytime you make improvements or alternations to your property. The only exceptions are minor changes. UCC (Uniform Construction Code) defines minor changes as “replacement of existing work with equivalent materials for routine maintenance and upkeep.” Replacing your windows with the same size windows will not need a permit; however, if you change the window size, a permit is required. If you are replacing your roof shingles with shingles, no permit is required. Replacing the shingles with a metal roof or a metal roof with a shingled roof does require a permit.
Next question is “what is the difference between a township permit and UCC permit?” The difference is that a UCC permit requires the project to have one or more inspections. Generally, a project under 1,000 square feet that is not attached to your home will only need a township permit. All commercial projects require a UCC permit.
Who is responsible for obtaining the building permit – the contractor or the property owner? Both. The permit application will need information from the property owner and the contractor. It is against the state law for a contractor to build without a permit. A homeowner can be held in violation of the state law, as well as for allowing the construction on their property without a permit. Owner and contractor both need to make sure a permit placard is posted before the project can start.
Most think only in-ground or large pools need to have a permit. You just need to hear one story about a child and an unprotected pool to understand the hazards of not having the pool inspected. Any pool that holds 24″ of water depth or more, no matter the size or type of pool needs to have a UCC permit. If the pool can hold 24″ of water and the walls are less than 48″ high, it must have a fence. This includes blow-up pools. Pools over 48″ high must have a locked or removable ladder, and a fence is not required. If you build a deck with stairs to the pool that is over 48″ high, there must be a self-closing and self-latching gate. The latch needs to be 54″ above the walking surface.
Properties in the flood zone areas will always need special UCC permits. No new construction can occur in floodway areas per FEMA regulations without a Letter of Map Amendment. For this process, you will need an engineer to complete the Letter of Map Change (LOMC) or Letter of Map Revision Based on Fill (LOMR-F).