List of Permits for Construction: 17 You Should Know

Construction permits are authoritative documents granted by local government bodies to ensure building projects or construction plans follow safety rules and regulations.

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Construction permits are authoritative documents granted by local government bodies to ensure building projects or construction plans follow safety rules and regulations. This list of permits for construction will help you determine the specific permitting services you may need for your building project.

A building or construction permit is usually required, regardless of the nature of the building project. Permitting requirements may be complex, but it is crucial to obtain one, as there are consequences for building or remodeling without a permit.

Commercial Permits

Commercial construction refers to structures designed for profit generation, such as retail spaces and office complexes. Obtaining one of these commercial permits is essential to undertake the construction, renovation, or expansion of a commercial building.

1. New Commercial Property Permit

New commercial constructions with known tenants or businesses (such as a shopping mall) are required to obtain a new commercial property permit. This permit establishes that the construction adheres to pertinent codes, zoning regulations, and building requirements.

2. Remodeling a Commercial Property

You will need a permit to undertake significant alterations within an existing commercial space. This permit substantiates that the proposed changes conform to regulatory standards encompassing safety, accessibility, and building codes.

3. Change of Use

A change of use permit becomes essential in instances where the intended usage of commercial space changes, such as transitioning from retail to office. This permit validates the alignment of the new purpose with zoning and building prerequisites, ensuring the building’s new purpose is compatible with its surroundings.

4. Foundation Only

Obtaining a “foundation only” permit is necessary when exclusively laying a commercial building’s foundation. This initial phase of construction demands adherence to structural regulations and safety standards, which this permit verifies.

5. Vanilla Box

Creating a rudimentary, unfinished interior space — commonly termed a “vanilla box”— requires specific permits. Despite the absence of finishes, fixtures, and internal partitions in this interior space, it is important to obtain a permit. This permit endorses the establishment of basic infrastructure and safety provisions within the commercial property. This lays the groundwork for future tenant improvements while meeting regulatory requirements.

6. Integrating Solar Into a Commercial Property

Obtaining permits is indispensable when adding solar panels to a commercial structure. In addition to confirming the structural integrity of the solar components, securing these permits ensures the proper installation of the panels and compliance with energy regulations.

7. Construction Trailer

Securing a permit is a requisite step for placing temporary construction trailers on-site. This permit validates the temporary structures’ compliance with safety regulations, utility provisions, and local guidelines.

8. Health Permit

A Health Permit is a critical authorization for businesses involved in producing, selling, or distributing products intended for human consumption or contact with the human body. The permit is essential for ensuring public safety and is typically overseen by county health departments. Health permits are commonly required for restaurants, food stores, wholesalers, and even establishments like tattoo parlors or beauty salons.

Multi-Family Permits

A multi-family construction permit is required for commercial enterprises involving residents in the building.

1. Duplexes and Townhouses

Groups of three or more single-family dwelling units, either rented or owned by tenants, are known as duplexes or townhouses. Permits are crucial in ensuring that construction or significant alterations of these structures adhere to building codes and safety standards.

2. Apartments

Apartments refer to multi-family structures with more than two dwelling units rented by tenants. These types of buildings require an apartment building permit to validate the structural integrity of the construction.

3. Condominiums

Although condominiums are similar to apartment buildings, occupants own individual units. A condo permit is necessary when constructing or modifying these types of structures.

4. Hotels and Motels

Hotels and motels may seem like commercial establishments, but they are categorized as multi-family buildings since occupants rent the dwelling units for short periods. A multi-family permit is necessary to construct, renovate, or expand these structures.

Residential Building Permits

One of these permits is required for new residential properties or single houses. It is also necessary to obtain residential building permits when making improvements or modifying an existing residential property.

1. New Residential Building Permit

A residential building permit is a fundamental requirement when constructing a new home, as it ensures the construction follows local safety codes, building regulations, and zoning guidelines.

2. Demolition Permits

Before removing or demolishing a structure, it is essential to obtain a demolition permit. This ensures the demolition process will be carried out safely, including proper disposal of materials and potential assessments of environmental impact, to safeguard both the immediate surroundings and the larger community.

3. Roofing/Re-Roofing Permit

For homeowners looking to add a new roof to their home, patio, or deck, obtaining a specific Roofing Permits is necessary. This process ensures that the added structure is stable, safe, and adheres to local building codes. 

4. Building a New Deck

For safety reasons, obtaining a permit is necessary for constructing a new deck to ensure its structural soundness, proper use of materials, and adherence to safety standards. This permitting process contributes to the creation of a safe and durable outdoor space for homeowners and their guests.

5. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Adding secondary housing units on residential properties often require specific permits, as they involve creating or modifying existing structures. 

Why Are Construction Permits Necessary?

Construction permits are necessary for several important reasons:

  • Safety: Permits ensure that each construction project adheres to safety codes and regulations. This reduces the risk of accidents and protects everyone involved, including workers, occupants, and the public.
  • Quality: They help maintain construction quality by verifying that the work is done by skilled professionals and in accordance with the approved building plan.
  • Legal compliance: Construction permits guarantee that construction activities align with local zoning laws, building codes, and other regulations. This will prevent legal issues down the line.
  • Environmental impact: With permits, potential negative impacts of large building projects are minimized as they must adhere to environmental standards.
  • Public Welfare: Permits help prevent structures that could be dangerous or detrimental to public health and welfare from being built.
  • Insurance requirement: You need a construction permit to get any type of insurance coverage for a building project, as nearly all insurance companies require permits to issue policies.
  • Inspections by certified building inspector: With a construction permit, a certified building inspector can inspect the construction project regularly. This way, contractors must build according to code and maintain construction quality.
  • Documentation: Permit issuance creates a record of the construction process, which is necessary for insurance claims, property valuation, and future property transactions.

Although obtaining construction permits can be time-consuming, they are crucial for maintaining building safety, quality, legality, and even insurance coverage in building projects. 


As mentioned, obtaining construction permits can be complex and time-consuming. However, collaborating with licensed professionals can speed up the building permit process.

Founded by a team with decades of retail development, AEC, regulatory, and technology experience, GreenLite provides local construction permitting expertise with a national reach. GreenLite’s multi-disciplinary review team coupled with our modern software platform shaves weeks and months off the construction permitting process to allow our customers to focus on their core business. We serve as the connective tissue between those that build and city agencies -- increasing transparency, predictability, and visibility. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help.

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