A building permit is required for most construction work on residential property. While this may not have been true in the past in some parishes, this year, all parish and local governments are requiring them.
Generally, permits are required for all permanent structural alterations. This does not include light cosmetic work, such as, painting or replacing some finish surfaces, like carpeting, or countertops. Beyond the home itself, permits often are required for gazebos, RV covers and fences,
The following projects typically require a building permit:
- New home construction
- Home additions and renovations
- Modifications that involve structural work
- Covered patios
- Accessory structures more than 100 square ft
- Roofing and decking that exceeds 100 square ft
- Solid fencing that is 3 ft high or higher
- Any fencing that is 4 ft high or higher
- Fencing that exceeds 25 ft in length
- Replacing or relocating a water heater
- Replacing a central air-conditioning unit or components
- Electrical work
- Pools whether below or above ground
- Gas-line work
- Sewer-line work
- Moving a house or mobile home
When a permit is required, work should not begin until the permit has been issued. If work has begun, stop it immediately and obtain a permit before continuing.
What to take with you
You will need to provide some basic information about the property and about the proposed work in order to get a permit. Check with your parish government to find out exactly what is required.
The basic information typically includes:
- Street address
- Lot/tract number
- Subdivision name
- Estimate of construction cost
- Number of square feet of new construction
Permit applications will usually need, at a minimum, three additional pieces of information:
This is documentation of whether the property is in a Special Flood Hazard Area, (commonly called the “flood zone”), and also, where. Flood-zone determination service might be offered by the local permit office. If property is in or near a flood-zone, the permit office will require a preliminary elevation certificate confirming the zone determination and establishing a required elevation for the lowest floor of the home.
The amount of detail required for these drawings differs from one jurisdiction to the next. They might be simple sketches, where a quarter-inch equals a foot, or multi-page sets of detailed drawings. If the property is in a velocity flood zone, you will need an engineered foundation plan. If it is in a high-wind zone, the design and plan requirements will be more stringent.
Damage inspection rating:
If seeking a permit to restore a damaged home, knowing the extent of damage is important. If the cost to restore the home to pre-damaged condition is close to 50 percent of the homes value, the project must comply with flood-damage prevention ordinances and additional code compliance might be required.
Submitting the Application
Submitting a building-permit application varies by parish. Some take applications online. Others can process a permit after a simple appointment; still others can require a review period. Call the parish’s building department to find out the requirements.
Louisiana has in the past allowed homeowners to pull their own permits and to act as the general contractor for home construction or repair projects. With the new statewide residential building code taking effect, some jurisdictions might no longer allow homeowners to pull permits.
Most people build in areas with publicly provided sewer service. If not, an on-site wastewater treatment permit will be needed.
Check with the local building permit office for more details.
BUILDING PERMIT: NOT THE LAST STEP
Once a permit has been issued for your building project, construction can begin. It is your contractor’s responsibility to call for all required code inspections and to correct any deficiencies.
These are the typical inspections required by most jurisdictions, and the basic items for which they are inspecting:
The ground under the floor must be cleared of all vegetation and organic material, Foundations must be on undisturbed soil or properly compacted fill and below the frost line. If the foundation is slab on grade, a plumbing rough-in inspection will probably be required as well.
Framing includes the bearing wall and partition wall, ceiling joists, rafters, wall board, wall ties, windows, exterior doors, roof bracing, fresh air vents, for bathrooms, toe plate anchors and corner bracing.
All electrical work that will be concealed in the wall or ceiling must be checked at the rough-in inspection. This usually includes the electric meter, panel box, and everything up to where the electric company attaches into the home system.
All plumbing work that will be concealed in the wall or ceiling must be checked at the rough-in inspection. This usually includes the water-supply lines out to the meter site, and all the waste lines out to the public sewer sytem.
HEAT AND AIR ROUGH-IN
All heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, work that will be concealed in the wall or ceiling must be checked at the rough-in inspection. This usually includes the ducts, vent pipes and furnace.
Electrical, plumbing and HVAC all require final inspections, and, as the name implies, these inspections are intended to assure that the systems are completely finished and ready to go.
When each of the inspectors has signed off, the contractor is ready to call for the final building inspections. Final building inspections look primarily at the following:
- Finished walls
- Finished floors
- Painted woodwork
- The lot, clean and graded for drainage
- The soffit vent for attic ventilation
- The completion of all other final inspections
- Posting of municipal number
- Installation of smoke detectors
- Dust-free parking and driveway
Note: If the construction is in the flood-zone – either building new or restoring a substantially damaged building- the work cannot proceed beyond the pouring of the slab or fabrication of the lowest floor of the structure until an elevation certificate has been completed, showing that the structure is at or above the required elevation.
The elevation certificate must be completed and submitted to the building inspector for approval before the framing of the structure. If the building is in compliance with the elevation requirement, the elevation certification will be stamped with “notice to proceed” and dated accordingly.