Homeowners Guide to Permits

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What Is A Permit?
A permit is an agreement between the City and the applicant whereby the applicant agrees to follow the city codes as adopted.

In some instances, the applicant must submit plans to show what he or she intends to do. For some projects, the plans may require preparation by a licensed architect or engineer registered by the State of Arizona. When the plans are approved, the construction must conform to the plan, any deviations or changes that differ from the approved plans cannot be approved in the field.

Why Do I Need A Permit?
A permit ensures the City Development Services/Inspections Division will inspect the work. The inspector may discover faulty materials, deviations from the approved plans or violations of the building codes and zoning codes that may result in an unsafe or hazardous condition for you and your family.

Furthermore, it is a violation of City Ordinance not to have a permit when work being performed requires one. Failure to obtain a permit may result in an investigation fee charge added to the cost of the permit and/or may result in prosecution in city court.

When Do I Need A Permit?
In general, a building permit is required when any structural change or major alteration is made to a building or when any new construction is undertaken. When applicable, separate permits for mechanical, plumbing and electrical work are required. Your proposed project must comply with the zoning code. If it does not, a separate submittal for a variance before the Board of Adjustment may be required. If in doubt, call the Community Development Department at 480-350-4311.

Do I Always Need A Permit?
These are some examples of work that generally do not require a permit: 

        Building Code Exceptions 

  • One story detached accessory buildings used as tool or storage sheds, playhouses or similar
    uses. The projected roof area cannot exceed 200 square feet. Zoning requirements may apply.
  • Fences 7’ high or less
  • Retaining walls not over 4 feet high, when measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall or retaining less than 3 feet of earth
  • Platforms, walks and driveways less than 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story below Window awnings supported on an exterior wall and not projecting more than 54 inches. Check the zoning ordinance for the minimum side or rear yard setbacks (the horizontal distance between a building, structure or wall from the property line), for the distance an awning can project into the required setbacks
  • Prefabricated above-ground swimming pools with a capacity of less than 5000 gallons of water
  • Painting, floor covering or interior trim work
  • Roofing repair or replacement with the same materials unless roof sheathing (the plywood under the shingles) is replaced

            Mechanical Code Exceptions

  • A portable heating appliance, portable ventilating equipment, portable cooling equipment or portable evaporative cooler
  • The replacement of a component part or assembly of an appliance which does not alter its original use, e.g. a compressor for an air-conditioning unit.

    Plumbing Code Exceptions

  • The repair of leaks in drains, soil, wastes, and vents piping unless the defective piping is replaced
  • The clearing of stoppages or the repairing of leaks in water or gas piping, valves or fixtures unless such repairs involve or require the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes or fixtures

    Electrical Code Exceptions

  • Portable motors or other portable appliances with factory installed cords
  • The repair or replacement of fixed motors or appliances of the same type and rating in the same location. e.g. replacing an old ceiling fan with a new one
  • Temporary decorative lighting that does not require rewiring
  • The re-installation of a switch or receptacle in the same location
  • The repair or replacement of a circuit breaker or fuse of the same rating and in the same location
  • The removal of electrical wiring
  • Electrical wiring, devices, appliances or equipment that operates at less than 25 volts and that is not capable of supplying more than 50 watts

Where Do I Get A Permit?

An application for a permit may be made at the Community Development Department, Permit Counter, located in City Hall at 31 E. 5th Street, Garden Level, East side. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday (excluding holidays). The homeowner or contractor can make the application for a permit, but it is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure a permit is secured and posted on the job site.

What you will need for:

New Single Family Residences 
    Completed Project Submittal Form (including owner information & project valuation) 
    Plan Review Fee 
    Two (2) complete sets of plans (plans should include site plan, code data sheet, architectural, 
        structural, electrical, plumbing & mechanical plans) 
    Two (2) extra site plans for engineering review (showing onsite lot retention) 
    Two (2) sets of Truss Calculations 
    Two (2) sets of Soils Reports 
    Two (2) sets of Structural Calculations (if applicable) 
    One (1) minimum 8½ x 11 Plot Plan

Residential Addition 
    Completed Project Submittal Form (including owner information & project valuation) 
    Plan Review Fee (not applicable on flat fee permits, check Table 2-A Miscellaneous Fee) 
    Two (2) complete sets of plans (plans should include site plan, code data sheet, architectural,
        structural, electrical, plumbing & mechanical plans as applicable for the proposed work.     
    Two (2) extra site plans for Engineering review (showing onsite lot retention).
    Two (2) sets of Truss Calculations (if applicable, the plan reviewer will determine applicability) 
    One (1) minimum 8½ X 11 Plot Plan.

  Residential Remodel 
    Completed Project Submittal Form (including owner information & project valuation) 
    Plan Review Fee (not applicable on flat fee permits, check Table 2-A Miscellaneous Fee) 
    Two (2) complete sets of plans (plans should include site plan, code data sheet, architectural, 
        structural, electrical, plumbing & mechanical plans as applicable for the proposed work.)

How Much Does A Permit Cost?
Building permit fees are based on the estimated costs and fair market evaluation of the project.

Responsibilities After Obtaining A Permit
Once a permit has been obtained from the Community Development Department, there are certain responsibilities placed on the homeowner/contractor.

The homeowner is responsible for obtaining a permit for the proposed project and for posting it on site. The individual doing the work authorized by the permit must call for an inspection prior to covering or concealing the work. When the permit is issued, a handout will be given to you, listing the common required inspections.

Where Can I Get More Information?
The Community Development Department, Permit Counter, located at 31 E. 5th St. in the east side garden level of the Tempe City Hall complex, has additional brochures and handouts on topics of frequent interest such as plan check, building inspections, variances, etc.

Community Development Department, Development Services Division Telephone List 
        480 350-4311
        480 350-8677 (Fax) 
        480 858-2073 (Inspection fax) 
        480 350-8072 (IVR-Inspection request line


 Email questions or comments about this page to permitcenter@tempe.gov