Whether you are building a new building or remodeling an existing space a permit is generally required. Permits are intended to keep the public safe while also mitigating potential problems that can put you in and your family in danger. Before beginning any new projects, it is recommended to first contact the Development Services Department to determine if a permit is required for your project. You can also visit the City of Raleigh website to learn more about getting a permit. City code officials enforce building code regulations that address structural integrity, fire resistance, safe exits, lighting, ventilation, construction materials, and flood, wind, and earthquake protection. They specify the minimum requirements to safeguard the health, safety and general welfare of building occupants.

Permits and code compliance not only protect the general population buy they also protect your wallet. A home is one of the biggest purchases one will make in their lifetime. Your home is also where you will create memories that will last a lifetime. That is why it is important to apply for all the necessary permits and follow building codes during construction to protect your safety and your investment.

Property insurers may not cover work done without permits and inspections or your insurance premiums may become impractical to manage. If you decide to sell a home or building that has had modifications without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied or make costly repairs. A property owner who can show that code requirements were strictly and consistently met has a leg to stand on if something happens to trigger a potentially destructive lawsuit.

By learning the phases of the permit process, and working with your contractor and city inspector--we can all ensure that your project will be safe and secure for years to come, even when you sell your property.


1. Submit Application: This initial stage of the process informs our permit specialists of your project details: The “who, what, when, where and how” of the job, that is. Oftentimes not only is the city’s permit application necessary, but the following items may also be required: surveys, elevation information, notification letters to your neighbors, legal documents, etc. Visit the Development Services Guide to learn more about the submittal process.

2. Review Process: Over the course of a few business days, various trade officials will review your plans and determine if your project is in compliance with City requirements. If your plans meet the requirements, a permit is issued. If not, the reviewer(s) will require an additional review to correct the problem.

3. Permit Issuance: Once plans have been approved by all trade reviewers, notification is sent to the applicant about next steps. The applicant will then pay all fees and pick up permits from either our Downtown Raleigh or North Raleigh location. After permits have been issued you now legally have permission to begin construction.

4. Job-Site Visits (Inspections): On-site inspections are required to make certain the work being done matches what has been approved for the permit. Applicants have access to the expertise of trade inspectors to help them with questions or concerns regarding the project and to minimize potentially costly mistakes. Our inspectors will let you know approximately how many inspections may be needed for your project. You can learn more about our inspections process online

5. Final Approval: The Development Services Department issues a Certificate of Occupancy when a building has passed all inspections and is ready for use. It is the final document in the process. A new building cannot be legally occupied until a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued. It verifies how a building may be used (for example, residential, commercial, business or multi-dwelling.) As a legal document, a Certificate of Occupancy may be required when selling property or refinancing a mortgage.

This blog was written by Alicia Thomas. She is a Planner in the Development Services Land Development Division.

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