Essential Permits When Building with Steel

Published January 21, 2014 by Whirlwind Team

steel building permit

As we've mentioned before, the work required to construct a steel building begins long before a single shovel or backhoe ever touches dirt. There is quite a bit of planning involved, including working with your local building officials to pull the necessary building permits that ensure your metal building is constructed safely, legally and in accordance with local regulations.

Will I Need a Building Permit?

Building permits are required for several phases of a building's construction, including:

  • Foundation
  • Electrical wiring
  • Plumbing
  • Mechanical (HVAC) permits
  • On-site sidewalk and driveway work
  • Fire suppression systems

Building Permit Requirements

Keep in mind that permit requirements vary from state to state and from county to county. There are several things you can do to facilitate the permitting process for your upcoming metal building project.

  1. Understand the zoning. Make sure you understand the zoning limitations of the site in question. Is it zoned commercial or residential? What are the requirements for each of these areas? Are they dependent on building height, square footage, facade, etc.? All of these questions can be answered by officials at the local building department.

    Don't worry if you find your residential building is intended for a commercially zoned lot or vice versa. In almost all cases, special permits can be applied for granting permission for exceptions to current zoning regulations. That being said, the application, review and acceptance (or denial) process will take longer than normal so you will want to account for that in your project's timeline.

    Also, there are a myriad of metal building options. If the building you originally planned for won't work with current zoning or building requirements, there are numerous ways to make modifications and find a building style that will work with your overall goals.
  2. Leave yourself enough time. The permit application process takes time. A conversation with local building officials will prepare you for the average wait time for various permit requirements, which will help you create a more accurate construction calendar. And, of course, you will want to factor in extra time if any special permits or variances need to be made for your project.
  3. Site plan. Make sure you have an official site plan that has been produced by a licensed surveyor. This will be necessary for the batch of permits that will be required by the building department.
  4. Certified building plans. You will also need sets of certified building plans. The building permits required by your particular city and/or county will be dependent on a variety of factors, including the building's height, width, square footage, electrical wiring, snow and/or wind loads, etc. Most building officials will want multiple copies submitted so each of the reviewing entities can have their own copy. Also, keep in mind that the larger your building is and/or the more people that will be working inside of it, the more stringent the building regulations will be.
  5. Speak to your metal building manufacturer. Your building's manufacturer may be able to help you with the permitting part of the building process and may even be familiar with your local building requirements if they have sold their products to other builders in your area. In some cases, a metal building manufacturer may even refuse to sell you a particular type of building if they know it is not permitted in your proposed location. If the manufacturer is unable to provide you with certified blueprints, think twice about using that company.
  6. Keep your permits on-site. Once you have received your building permits, your project has the green light. In most cases, the permits need to be kept on the job site. Speak with your building officials regarding their preferences. They may allow you to keep the original permits in your office for safekeeping, in which case you can make copies for the jobsite. When it comes time for certain phases to be inspected and signed-off, you will need to have originals at the ready.
  7. Stick to the plans. Your local building inspector(s) will be inspecting and signing off on each of your permits as that phase of construction is complete. The certified blueprints you submitted for approval will be the ones the inspector will reference throughout the project's build-out. If the design changes mid-stream, or modifications have to be made, it is your responsibility to check in with the building department, submit official, certified copies of the new plans and - if necessary - apply for new permits. Failure to do so can seriously impede your construction process and may result in hefty fines.
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