Construction Permit Tips
Homeowners thinking about remodeling their home or adding other improvements, such as decks, spas, or masonry walls, many times have a number of questions about building permits. This information listed below helps give homeowners basic knowledge of when construction permits are required in the Town of Carolina Beach. It also answers some of the most frequently asked questions and offers tips from the Building Inspection’s Department. Because each construction project is unique, we invite you to telephone the department at (910) 458-8238 for answers to your specific questions.
Permits are the way the Town of Carolina Beach regulates construction. This regulation is designed to ensure that all construction in the Town is safe. The safety of the occupants of buildings is the primary reason for having construction codes. The Town of Carolina Beach adopts by ordinance the North Carolina Building Codes (included in which are the Building, Plumbing, Electrical, Fire, Mechanical, and Energy Codes) along with local regulations that then become a portion of the Town of Carolina Beach Municipal Code.
There are several different types of permits, based on the type of construction: structural, plumbing, electrical, mechanical that are used for single-family and other types of construction; in addition, permits are required for demolition or relocation of buildings or structures. Obtaining a permit is just the first step in the process. In this step, you may need to create construction drawings or plans to submit to the department for review along with a site plan showing the location of the proposed improvements.
The Building Department often has handouts that will help you through the process for less complicated projects or handouts showing different methods of construction typically used in standard construction.
Once your plans approved, you are required to build the project according to those plans and any changes made to the plans or construction in the field will need department approval. The second half of the construction process is the inspection of the work being done; more on that later.
A construction permit is needed for all new construction, many types of repair or replacement work as well. A plumbing, electrical, or mechanical permit is required for any additions or changes to the structures existing system; for example, moving or adding electrical outlets or replacing you water heater which are obtained through New Hanover County Inspections.
To determine if you project needs a permit, call us at (910) 458-8238.
A construction permit is not required for items such as wallpapering, painting, or similar finish work; fences six feet or lower in height and not constructed of masonry; accessory buildings 120 square feet or smaller used as tool/storage sheds or playhouse. However, the Zoning Code and/or other agencies may require permits, so it is always wise to check before beginning construction.
Plumbing, mechanical, and electrical work, replacement or repair of fixtures (such as changing water faucets or replacing switches) do not normally require permits; replacing your water heater (if not same for same) or installing a lawn sprinkler system does require permits.
Construction permits are issued at the Planning Department that is located in Town Hall at 1121 N. Lake Park Boulevard, Carolina Beach, NC 28428. Trade Permits are issued at New Hanover County.
How long does it take to get a permit?
Permit issuance periods may vary; some permits are able to be issued over-the-counter while others may need plans checked or reviewed by another division or agency.
Zoning sets up the types of buildings and what uses they may be used for in a defined area. For example, a residential area may be zoned R-1-B, which means that the lots can contain one single family dwelling and has a typical minimum lot size of 5,000 square feet.
Zoning is regulated by the Town’s Planning Department and is based on zoning maps approved by Town Council. In most cases, zoning questions should be directed to the planners; however, some questions may be answered by the building inspector. Planning can be reached at (910) 458-2978.
What about other approvals or permits?
Other Town or governmental agencies may need to review and approve your project. The inspector will advise you of such when your plans are submitted.
If a permit is required under the Town of Carolina Beach Municipal Code and it is not obtained prior to construction, you are in violation of the Town of Carolina Beach Municipal Code and the North Carolina Building Code and will be subject to fines and penalties. Anyone found in violation shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and guilty of a separate offense for each and every day, or portion thereof, during which any violation is committed, continued, or permitted. Penalties can range from doubling the permit fee (investigation fee), a 50 dollar per day civil penalty, or both. In addition, you will be required to obtain a permit for the work and pass all necessary inspections. Failure to do so will require the structure or site be returned to its original condition.Remember, construction codes were created for safety reasons. Work done without proper permits can be unsafe, regardless of how good it may look.
Permits expire 180 days after issuance if no inspections have been made. Permits expire 1 year from the date of the last completed inspection. In order for a project to be completed, it must be inspected and pass all required inspections. If the permit expires before the final inspection is made, the project is in violation of the Town code.
Contractors licensed by the State of North Carolina, contractor’s agents, and homeowners can obtain permits for work over $30,000. If construction costs are less than $30,000, an unlicensed contractor may obtain permits.
Property owners may do the work themselves, but they must follow certain regulations. The North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors cautions homeowners against obtaining permits on behalf of their contractor. Unlicensed contractors may take advantage of homeowners who lack construction knowledge, potentially placing the homeowner in a position of liability for both worker’s compensation and payroll taxes.
A qualified individual, such as a draftsman, can typically prepare plans for projects such as room additions; other, more complex, projects may require plans prepared by a licensed architect or engineer.
For projects such as routine patio covers, the State’s Prescriptive Code has standard specifications that can be followed (within certain limitations) when submitted along with a site plan showing the location of the proposed work.
The Town recommends you deal only with a contractor licensed by the State of North Carolina if construction costs exceed $30,000.Access the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors via https://nclbgc.org
It is the responsibility of the permit holder or contractor to request inspections at specific times during the construction process. Inspections are made during certain points in the project, specifically before any work is concealed or completed. For example, retaining walls require inspections of the footing with the steel reinforcement held in place, after the block is laid and the remainder of the steel reinforcement is in place, but before grouting, after back fill has been placed (unless a French drain is required), and at completion. Remember, the project is not complete for legal purposes until it has passed a final inspection.