How Long Does It Take To Get a Building Permit

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If everything goes perfectly it can take 2-4 weeks to get a building permit, but the actual length could be up to 3 years depending on different circumstances. A building permit is an official authorization granted by a regulatory body allowing property owners, contractors, or developers to construct a new building or remodel an existing one. Getting official approval signifies that the proposed construction project complies with established building standards and regulations.

The Process of Getting a Building Permit

Obtaining a building permit involves several stages, beginning with submitting an application to the local building authority. Typically, the application includes detailed plans, designs, and sometimes environmental impact assessments.

Once submitted, the authorities review the plans to ensure they comply with zoning laws, safety codes, and other relevant regulations. This scrutiny guarantees that the proposed construction or modification adheres to established standards and won’t pose risks to people, property, or the environment.

If everything checks out, the local building authority approves the plans and grants a building permit, allowing the project to proceed under official oversight.

While these steps seem straightforward on paper, the various stages involved in construction permitting are complex and can be time-consuming in practice. It is usually best to retain the services of permitting experts to ensure your building plans adhere to local requirements before submitting them to the appropriate authorities on your behalf.

When Is a Building Permit Required?

A building permit is typically required for the following:

  • New construction, such as building a new house, garage, shed, or other structures.
  • Major renovations, including extensive renovations that involve structural changes.
  • Adding rooms, floors, or extensions to an existing structure.
  • Electrical work, such as installing or modifying electrical systems, rewiring, or upgrading circuit panels.
  • Adding or modifying heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
  • Major plumbing works like installing new plumbing fixtures and pipes or making major plumbing changes.
  • Structural changes that impact the structural integrity of a building, such as foundation repairs or roof replacements.
  • Converting the use of a space, like turning a residential property into a commercial one.
  • Demolition, whether an entire building or part of it.
  • Installing in-ground or above-ground pools and associated safety features like fences.
  • Solar panel installation requires a permit to ensure adherence to electrical codes.
  • Changing the exterior of a building, such as adding a balcony or altering the façade.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Building Permit?

The time it takes to obtain a building permit can vary significantly depending on several factors, including how complex the project is, local regulations, and the involved parties’ responsiveness.

Typically, getting a building permit for larger and more intricate projects takes longer (often several months) than smaller and simpler projects (within a few weeks).

However, providing all required information can speed up the permitting process. While the information required for permitting may vary based on specific projects and local regulations, here is a general list of what may be required:

  • Project details: The project’s description, including the scope and purpose of the construction or renovation.
  • Architectural plans: Detailed architectural drawings showcasing the project’s design, layout, and dimensions.
  • Engineering plans: Structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing plans detailing technical aspects of the project.
  • Property ownership: Proof of ownership or authorization to undertake the project on the property.
  • Site plan: A site plan indicating the project’s location on the property, setbacks, and proximity to other structures.
  • Zoning Information: Confirmation that the project complies with local zoning laws and regulations.
  • Contractor information: Details about the licensed contractor responsible for the construction.
  • Fees and payments: Payment of applicable permit fees.
  • Code compliance: Assurance that the project adheres to building codes, safety standards, and other regulations.
  • Environmental impact assessment (if applicable): Information about potential environmental effects of the project and proposed mitigation measures.

While permitting requirements can be complex, building or remodeling without a permit can attract steep penalties. If assessing the requirements feels overwhelming, consider enlisting a licensed professional to handle the filing on your behalf.

Common Reasons for Permit Approval Delays

Certain errors and challenges can make obtaining a building permit time-consuming. Understanding these potential obstacles allows property owners, developers, and contractors better navigate the permit process and minimize delays.

Incomplete or Incorrect Applications

Submitting incomplete applications is perhaps the most common reason for delays in the permit process. If essential documents, plans, or information are missing, the reviewing authorities must request these materials, leading to additional processing time.

To avoid this, double-check all required documentation for accuracy and ensure to provide them upfront.

Code Violations

Building codes and regulations play a crucial role in the permit process. If the building plans do not follow the relevant local building codes or zoning regulations, corrections will be necessary before approval can be granted. These corrections can result in revisions, resubmissions, and extended approval timelines.

While one revision cycle is common, having several revision cycles can significantly delay the permitting process. This is why it is important to factor in permitting time when considering the project finish date.

Collaborating with licensed professionals who are well-versed in local codes at a national scale can help you address compliance issues early on.

High Volume of Applications

Seasonal fluctuations and a high permit application volume can delay processing. During peak construction seasons (such as the summer months), local building departments may be overwhelmed with requests, resulting in longer wait times.

Taking steps, such as planning construction projects during off-peak times or considering expedited processing options, can help lessen the impact of high application volumes.

Complex or Unique Projects

Projects with intricate designs, unique features, or unconventional building methods may require additional review and scrutiny. Authorities may need extra time to assess the project’s compliance and safety.

If your project falls into this category, it is best to engage with local officials early and maintain open lines of communication.

Neighborhood or Community Concerns

Community engagement and neighborhood concerns can impact the permit timeline for larger projects, such as shopping malls, industrial facilities, hotels, and other commercial real estate. If neighbors raise objections or concerns about the building project, local authorities may need to address these issues before granting approval.

Engaging with the community and proactively addressing concerns can help streamline the approval process.


While property owners and contractors can submit building plans to building departments for review and approval, the permitting requirements can often be confusing. In certain instances, local authorities may reject submitted plans, requesting revisions. This can extend timelines and lead to project delays and frustration.

How long does it take to get a building permit? It can take up to several months or even years without the right expertise. However, you can significantly reduce the wait time when working with permit experts like GreenLite. 

GreenLite makes getting a construction permit fast, predictable, and transparent. Powered by the GreenLite Platform and expert team, let us handle your permitting needs so you can focus on growing your business. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help.



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