Building or Renovating a Home: The Building Permits

April 4, 2018

Every process has its steps, and the construction process is no different! After the design phase of the project is complete and before construction can begin, you must obtain a building permit. Whether it’s a new development, renovation or addition to an old one, you need a building permit from the local building department.  Here we will help you understand what there is to know about building permits, why it is important, where can you get one and how much it costs.

But first of all, what is a building permit?

The building permit is the approval of the county or local government agency so you or your constructor can build or renovate a residential property.  It means that the project complies with local standards on zoning, construction, and most importantly the Florida Building Code, this is for the well-being and safety of the residents of the neighborhood and the community.

You must be aware that every city has its own process.  For example, in Coral Gables if a project affects the exterior of the building or it’s a new construction, first it must be reviewed by the  Planning and Zoning Division which includes the Board of Architects and Historic Preservation and then by the Building Division of Coral Gables. This is because the city of Coral Gables needs to ensure that the project is consistent with the city’s architecture and the city’s regulations, preserving the traditional aesthetic character of the community; after the approval of the Planning and Zoning Division is given, the project goes to review by the Building Division which includes: Fire, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and other departments and agencies reviews for a second approval. After this, the process is complete.

You should know that the permit is mandatory before the work can begin, the law requires it. This is because under these reviews the city ensures the safety of the construction, preventing any problem or damage in the structure or even the lives of its residents. This way you can also protect your investment by being sure that the construction is done correctly under the necessary codes and inspections and won’t exist any dangerous condition like poor wired, plumbing or flooring that could provoke a fire or flooding.

Where can you get the building permit?

In the local building department, it should be a standard process with some variations on requirements depending on the city, but be in knowledge that to require a permit the project must be designed by a licensed architect or engineer. We recommend to consult first if the work you need done needs a building permit, because in some cities interior work like Panting, Flooring and Routine Maintenances may not require a building permit.

For example, in the city of Coral Gables the request of a building permit is in the Building Division department, and the process varies if the construction or renovation affects the exterior of the structure, because then you would need two approvals from different divisions, but if the project is an interior renovation then it only has to be submitted to one division for review.

And, how much does it cost?

The cost of the permit will vary on every project, this is because its determined by how many squares foot the size of the project is, but it also varies on the type of project if it is an addition, a repair or a new construction. There could be some exceptions from the city’s department where you won’t be required to pay a fee, like if it’s a repair work due to criminal acts and vandalism.