Code Inspections FAQs

Who do I need approvals/permits from before I can get my Construction Permit?
Residential - What DOES require a Building Permit?
Commercial - What DOES NOT require a Building Permit?
Agricultural Buildings
Recreational Cabins
When does a project need to have an architect or engineer stamp the plans?
How do the permit, plan review, and inspection process work?

Who do I need approvals/permits from before I can get my Construction Permit.

  • Municipality
  • Sewage Enforcement Officer
  • Utility Companies
  • Planning Commission
  • Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
  • Department of Transportation (Penn DOT) - Driveway permits on state roads
  • Labor and Industry – Elevators, Boilers
  • Department of Agriculture – Food type items
  • Zoning
  • Conservation District

Residential - What DOES require a Building Permit?

This is not a complete list or exact wording from the codes.  Always check with your municipality first, some municipalities have adopted more restrictive requirements.

  • New one family, two family, and townhouse dwellings,
  • Any addition or demolition of dwelling
  • Detached one-family dwelling accessory structures - If the building area is 1,000 square feet or more, including but not limited to: Carports, Private garages, Greenhouses, Sheds
  • Pre-manufactured (Mobile Homes) or industrialized (Modular) housing and their foundation, utility/site connections and any attached structures (attached garage, porches, decks, etc.)
  • Fences - Over 6 feet high
  • Retaining walls - Over 4 feet at lowest point of grade to the top of the wall, or if the top is next to a driveway or a walkway, or supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II or III-A liquids
  • Decks - Installation of an uncovered deck where the floor of the deck is more than 30 inches above grade. A covered deck is a porch and is considered an addition.
  • Sidewalks and driveways – adjacent to a 30 inches drop in elevation
  • Swimming pools of any type that are more than 24 inches deep, or exceed 5,000 gallons.
  • Alterations that make structural changes or affect the means of egress. A means of egress is considered a continuous path from any occupied portion of a building or structure to the exterior.
  • Not ordinary repairs: addition to or relocation of any part of an electrical, plumbing, or mechanical system


Commercial - What DOES NOT require a Building Permit?

This is not a complete list or exact wording from the codes.  Some municipalities have adopted more restrictive requirements.

  • Fences less than 6’ high.
  • Retaining walls over 4 feet at lowest point of grade to the top of the wall and does not supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II or III-A liquids.
  • Sidewalks and driveways adjacent to less than a 30 inches drop in elevation
  • Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops, and similar finishing work.
  • Shade cloth structures for nursery or agricultural purposes which do not have service systems
  • Movable cases, counters and partitions not over 5’ 9” in height
  • Window replacement without structural change.
  • Minor repair and maintenance work that includes the replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles.
  • Temporary systems for the testing or servicing of electrical equipment or apparatus.
  • Portable heating and ventilation equipment or appliances
  • Replacement of a minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make it unsafe.
  • Clearing stoppages or repairing leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures, and the removal and installation of water closets, faucets and lavatories if the valves or pipes are not replaced or rearranged.
  • Installation of aluminum or vinyl siding onto an existing building


Agricultural Buildings

Agricultural buildings or structures are excluded from compliance with the Uniform Construction Code. They must be utilized to store farm implements, hay, feed, grain, or other agricultural or horticultural products or to house poultry, livestock, or other farm animals, grow mushrooms, and milk houses. Carriage houses owned and used by members of a recognized religious sect for the purposes of housing horses and storing buggies are also considered Agricultural Buildings. Agricultural Buildings may not include any spaces where products are processed, treated, or packaged. They also cannot have any habitable space, or be open to the general public.


Recreational Cabins

A person may be exempt from the UCC if they fill out and have notarized a form known as “UCC-13 Recreational Cabin Affidavit” and submit it to the municipality. Being exempt from the UCC means that the material and method of construction is not regulated, the structure must still comply with all other local, county, and state laws.  The downfall of this option is that it can be utilized for recreational activities only and cannot be:

  • Used as a domicile or residence by anyone for any period of time
  • Used for any commercial purposes
  • Exceed two stories in height
  • Used as a place of employment
  • Used as a mailing address for bills or correspondence
  • Listed as any individual’s place of residence on a tax return, driver’s license, vehicle registration or voter registration

The following items must also be complied with:

  • The cabin must be equipped with at least one smoke detector, one fire extinguisher and one carbon monoxide detector in both the kitchen and sleeping quarters
  • Upon the transfer of ownership of a recreational cabin, written notice must be provided in the sales agreement and the deed that it is exempt from the act, it may not be in conformance with the UCC, and is not subject to municipal regulation.  Failure to comply with the notice requirements shall render the sale void at the purchaser’s option


When does a project need to have an architect or engineer stamp the plans?

Plans that require an architect or engineer seal will pertain mostly to commercial projects.
IRC (International Residential Code) covers regular construction, and if followed, may be done with out stamped plans. If you vary from the IRC: (examples: Log homes, steel beams, heavy timber beams, higher than 4’ retaining walls,) only those parts and anything affected by those parts will need to be stamped, the rest of the project may follow the IRC. All commercial projects will require stamped plans. A few exceptions are items that do not need plans to confirm compliance, examples: changing furnace, new roofing, wire replacement, etc, it will still require a building permit, just not stamped plans.


How do the permit, plan review, and inspection process work?

The very first step is to go to your Municipality. Tell them about what type of project you are doing. They will be able to direct you in they right direction for most of the requirements. After meeting their requirements, most will issue a municipal permit. These municipal permits are called by several names: Assessment permit, Land Use permit, Zoning permit, Township/Boro permit, etc.  Any permit issued by a Municipality is NOT A BUILDING PERMIT. Only people certified by the state are allowed to issue a building permit.  If a building permit is needed; they will give you an application and/or have you contact the Building Code Official enforcing the UCC for them.  As a Third Party Agency, we work for the municipality, and will not issue a building permit until authorized to do so by the municipality, most of the time it is by us receiving a copy of the Municipal Permit.

After you fill out the Building Permit application to the fullest extent that you can (Note: Permits will not be issued without the “Tax Parcel #” filled out), send or drop off it along with a minimum of 2 sets of plans for residential, and 3 sets for commercial.  All sets get marked, we keep one for permanent record, others get returned. If there are minor issues on the plans, comments will be marked and an APPROVAL will be placed on them. If there are major issues on the plans or application, comments and reasons will be marked and a REJECTION will be placed on them and then returned.  Once corrected, they must be re-submitted for another review.  Many times we will call and try to resolve simple issues over the phone before rejecting them. Once we have an approved set, we will contact you with the fee, when fee is received we will issue and send or drop the permit and plans off. (One approved set must be available at job site until completion.)

There will be a checklist in plan review section of your building permit for the required inspections.  Keep in mind; almost everything needs to be inspected before it is covered up!