Building Information and Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What type of work on my house requires a Construction Permit?

A:  A construction permit is required for any new construction as well as for work on existing buildings, including structural, plumbing, mechanical, and electrical work.  There are some exceptions to the general permit requirement.  For example, construction permits are not required for ordinary maintenance, which includes routine repair.

Q:  Why should I get a permit?

A:  Getting a permit brings you the services of the Building Department’s inspectors for building, plumbing, electric and fire.  The inspector approves each phase of the construction process, checking to see that the work is done safely and properly.

Q:  I like to do my own home improvements around the house and I’m not going to use a contractor, so when do I need a Construction Permit?

A:  Work without a permit is illegal and can pose serious complications for you when you try to sell your house.  In addition penalties for failure to obtain a permit prior to construction are up to $2,000 for each offense (N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.31(e).  Work that is done by the homeowner that requires a permit still needs to be inspected to ensure that the work has been done according to code. There are also legal and financial liabilities that you face if you did not get a permit.  Fire and homeowner’s insurance you have will be invalidated if you do work without a permit. 

Q:  My contractor has told me that he has applied for but has not received his/her Home Improvement Contractors Registration license back from the State?

A:  While waiting for the State to respond to applications for a Home Improvement Contractor's Registration license homeowner’s and contractors can complete a Certification to Obtain Municipal Permit which can be downloaded at the DCA website:

Q:  How long will it take to get my permit?

A:  The size and scope of your project will determine the length of time for the review process.  Generally a typical alteration permit will take between 10 days to two weeks to process.  A new home permit could take several months especially if going before a Board for a Variance has been determined.  The completeness of the information submitted with your permit can greatly help with the review and approval process.

Q:  How much will my permit cost?

A:  The cost of a permit is determined by the size and scope of your project.  Two fees are determined for the permit.  The first fee is determined by local ordinance and the second fee is determined by the New Jersey State Department of Community Affairs based on either the dollar amount of the work to be done and, if applicable, the total cubic volume of the project.

Q:  Who calls for the inspections?

A:  Either the homeowner or the contractor can schedule inspections.  However, if you are using a contractor, be sure to establish who will be calling in for inspections before the work begins

Q:  My contractor said that the work was finished and I paid him, why do I need a final inspection?

A:  Final inspections should be completed before the final payment.  A contractor that hasn’t received final payment will come back to correct a “failed” inspection quicker than a paid one.  The New Jersey State 13:45A-16.2 states:  “For inspection building, electric, plumbing, fire protection, elevator-final inspections are required before final payment is made to the contractor.”

Q:  I’m selling my home and I had some work done without a permit, now what do I do?

A:  Please call the Building Department so that this can be corrected.  A “retro” permit can be generated that will require the same fees and inspections as a regular permit; however penalties may incur depending on the scope of work.  Many times this is a time-sensitive situation and the permit may take several weeks to process, please call the Building Department as soon as possible to get the process going.

Q:  I obtained permits for all the work on my home, shouldn’t I get a certificate.

A:  Yes, when the final inspections required are completed and passed, you will receive the appropriate certificate stating so.  Permits open and permits close.  If you have had work done on your home with a permit bud did not receive a Certificate of Approval or Certificate of Occupancy, please call the Building Department to check the inspection state of the permit.  If needed, we will schedule the necessary inspections to close the permit and issue the required certificate.

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