Building a porch might not seem like a major building project unless the porch is of a complicated design or dramatically alters the home's appearance; however, in some locations, even minor building plans must be assigned a building permit. Building permits are usually obtained through public safety departments of specific governing bodies of a city or town, county and state. Building permits regulate what and where structures may be built and are obtained by paying a fee.
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A growing number of neighbourhoods are managed by homeowners associations that dictate what can or cannot be done to landscaping and the home in the front, side or backyards. Depending on whether your home is located in an HOA-managed property or on the specific regulations of the HOA, you may or may not be allowed to build a porch. If your HOA regulations are not specific on what is allowed as far as porch styles, sizes, alterations or additions, petition the HOA board with your exact building plan to request building permission.
City or Town Permission
Cities and towns generate revenue from the sale of building permits. Usually the requirement for a building permit is based on the dimensions of the proposed building project. For example, a 4-by-4-foot porch may not require a permit, but a whole-house-length, covered, wraparound porch might. Some permit regulations might be based on the type of foundation erected for the porch in question. Have the exact dimensions and building plan available when you go to your city's public safety or building department to pay and apply for a building permit. There might be other requirements mandated by the application.
In addition to your city's building permits, your county may require a separate permit. Again, counties earn funds from the costs of permits, making it to the county's advantage to require permits on certain projects. County safety codes are also enforced by the issuing of building permits. Some counties require the use of certain materials or ban certain materials from any and all building projects regardless of the project or porch size. More and more counties are making various applications available online; some can be downloaded but must be mailed via regular postal services.
States regulate building codes, safety regulations and environmental regulations in order to maintain consistency in the level of safety for structures built in that state. Special building codes are enforced for historical structures or state-funded public housing properties. There are restrictions placed on what can be altered about these types of buildings and a porch may or may not be allowed. The state's historical preservation department or public housing department will have information regarding whether a porch can be built on these structures. Building permits issued through the state are issued from the building inspector, public safety or emergency services departments depending on your state.
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