The Star-Herald

Why do I need a permit?

Not knowing what is required when contemplating a building project can be intimidating.  Asking questions and getting the correct information before you begin can help ensure that your project goes smoothly. 

Do I really need a permit? 

If you are planning to do any exterior or interior renovating, new construction or demolition around your home or property, it’s likely you will need a building, electrical, plumbing or demolition permit.  You also must obtain a building permit if you are relocating a mobile home to Presque Isle. If you are a business moving into a new or relocated space you must obtain a Certificate of Occupancy permit. 

A building permit is required when any owner or authorized agent intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure.  A permit is also required if you are putting up signage of any kind. 

As a homeowner or business owner, you are responsible for obtaining the necessary permit(s).  If you choose to have your contractor take out a permit on your behalf, make sure it is done before the project gets started.  

The following are among projects that don’t require permits: Fences not over 6 feet high; retaining walls not over 4 feet unless they are supporting a surcharge (fill); painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops and similar finish work; prefabricated swimming pools less than 24 inches deep; swings and other playground equipment to a one- or two-family dwelling; replacement windows and doors as long as the opening is not enlarged; and siding, stucco or shingles.  

Types of permits

A building/demolition permit is a document that grants legal permission to allow you to begin your building or demolition project.  

An electrical permit grants legal permission to allow you or your electrician to begin any electrical work.  If you are a homeowner you can do your own electrical work at your legal residence.  If you are a business owner or landlord you are required to obtain a licensed electrician to perform any electrical work. 

A plumbing permit grants legal permission to allow you or your plumber to begin any interior plumbing work.  If you are a homeowner you can do your own interior plumbing work at your home. If you are a business owner or landlord you must obtain a licensed plumber to perform any electrical work.

A Certificate of Occupancy permit is a document that grants legal permission to allow you to occupy a building for a certain use. Any new or relocated business within the City of Presque Isle is required to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy permit before opening a new or relocated business. 

Why are permits required?

Building, electrical and/or plumbing permits are required to protect the health, safety and well-being of you and your community by ensuring that all construction, electrical or plumbing aligns with minimum safety and development standards.  The Code Enforcement Office will review your project design and inspect the project during its many phases to ensure that it complies with the applicable zoning regulations, International Residential Building Code, International Building Code, National Electrical Code and State of Maine Internal Plumbing Code adopted by the city.  

A demolition permit is required to protect the health, safety and well-being of you and your community be ensuring that all demolition aligns with minimum safety standards.  The Code Enforcement Office will review your demolition project and inform you to have the project reviewed by the Department of Environmental Protection to check for any asbestos. If any is found it will have to be abated.  

A Certificate of Occupancy permit is issued by the Code Enforcement Officer and endorsed to the effect that the proposed use of the building and land conforms to all building, electrical, plumbing, safety codes and any other applicable federal, state and local codes.

What if I don’t take out a permit?

Failure to apply for building, electrical or plumbing permits could be costly for you as a home or business owner.  Work that has been done and paid for may not comply with code requirements and could result in costly repairs.  Your insurance coverage may be denied for the non-permitted work.  Removal of the work may be required to bring the work into code compliance.  Double permit fees may be applied.  In addition, legal action may be initiated to ensure compliance.

Applications and fees

Permit applications are available at the Code Enforcement Office at City Hall, or visit the city’s website, www.presqueislemaine.gov.

The cost of a building permit is a minimum of $35, up to $7,000 for residential construction, and then $5 per $1,000 of the construction/labor cost of the project. Commercial construction is a minimum of $35, up to $4,375, then $8 per $1,000 of the construction/labor cost.

Electrical and plumbing permits are separate from the building permit. The minimum electrical permit is $50.  The minimum plumbing permit fee is $40.  A residential demolition permit is $30 and a commercial demolition permit is $100.  A sign permit is $2.50 per square foot of the size of the sign.  A Certificate of Occupancy permit is $25.

For more information, contact the Code Enforcement Office at 760-2703 or 760-2770, by e-mail at panderson@presqueisleme.us or gstpeter@presqueisleme.us, or stop by the office at City Hall.

Penny Anderson is administrative assistant at Presque Isle’s code enforcement office.   

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