The Star-Herald

Do I need a permit?

You’re planning a home improvement project. It might be redoing the kitchen because the cabinets are falling apart. It might be adding a master suite, or maybe building the deck you’ve always wanted. One of the questions that comes to mind might be: “Am I going to need a permit for this project”? 

You are always welcome to call 207-760-2770 and ask.

So when is a building permit required? This question is answered in Chapter 16 of the City of Presque Isle Land Use and Development ordinances, which states “No building or other structure shall be erected, moved, added to, altered, demolished, or site developed, nor shall a discontinued nonconforming use be renewed, without an appropriate permit therefore, issued by the Code Enforcement Officer in accordance with Section 105 et. Seq. of the International Building Code (IBC) as amended. No building permit shall be issued except in conformity with the provisions of this Code, except after written order from the Board of Appeals. The Code Enforcement Officer shall maintain a public record of all building permits. If the building or part is not substantially completed within two years of the issuing of the permit, the permit shall lapse. It may be renewed without charge upon application.”

Ok, so we understand that anytime a structure is built it requires a permit. But what qualifies it to be a structure? Obvious things like a house or an addition to a house, garage, barn or shed and decks that are built using lumber are considered a building or structure. There are also less obvious things like a soft-side garages or shed. Typically, these come as kit that have to be assembled. And what about pre-built storage sheds? Again, they are considered structures. These are all examples of exterior buildings or structures.

Examples of interior projects that require a permit might be adding or moving a wall, door or window. What about remodeling? Is a permit necessary to remodel? IEBC (International Existing Building Code) address this as alterations or as repairs. The 2015 IEBC defines repair as the reconstruction or renewal of any part of an existing building for the purpose of its maintenance or to correct damage. Repair would include the patching, restoration or replacement of damaged materials, elements equipment or fixtures. Repair does not include the cutting away of any wall, partition, or portion thereof, the removal or cutting of any structure beam or load-bearing support. Nor the removal of change of any required means of egress or rearrangement of part of a structure affecting the egress requirements, meaning doors and windows.

Generally, a repair will not require a permit. A good scenario is a kitchen update, that replaces only kitchen cabinets and countertops. There are no changes to the layout of the kitchen, nor any of the windows and doors that are located in the kitchen. The updated would fall under repairs and would not require a permit. Another scenario is replacement of windows. If the window sizing or location doesn’t change, then a permit wouldn’t be required because, again, it falls under the repair umbrella.

Once walls and other structural components become part of the project, it falls under an alteration. Alterations encompasses quite a bit, there are different levels of alterations.

These will be addressed in a later issue. Stay tuned.

Tim St. Peter is Presque Isle’s code enforcement officer.  He can be reached at 760-2770 or via email at @tstpeter@presqueisleme.us.

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