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Frequently Asked Questions

When should I apply for a Building, Electrical, Plumbing, and/or Mechanical Permit?
The permit should be applied for and received prior to any work taking place.

What work requires a Building Permit?
For single family homes, a permit is required for the construction of new homes, additions, renovations,a deck, porch (with or without a roof), an attached or detached garage or shed, windows & siding, basement finish, basement damp proofing, and a pool (either above or in-ground). A new roof or repair of an existing roof also requires a building permit.  Please keep in mind that there are other project types that could require a permit, so please feel free to call our office if you have questions.  248.530.1850.

For commercial buildings, any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, all of which is regulated by this code, will require a building permit. All exterior changes, including, but not limited to painting and signage must be approved by the Planning Department before the Building Department can issue a permit for the project.  You can contact one of our City Planners at 248.530.1850.

If demolition is required for either commercial or residential structures, a Demolition Permit is required. Here is a printable copy of the Demolition Permit Application.  

If there are any questions regarding the need for a building or demolition permit, a Building Inspector can be contacted at 248.530.1850.

When are inspectors available for questions?
Generally, the inspectors are in the office and available for questions between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., as well as between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m..

How do I schedule a building, mechanical, electrical, and/or plumbing inspection?
To schedule an inspection, a request must be made one day in advance before 4:00 p.m.  An inspection must be scheduled by phoning the Automated Inspection Line at: 248.530.1860

Does the installation of a fence require a permit?
Yes, a Fence Permit is required. There is a $50 permit fee.

Do I need an Electrical Permit?
In most cases, all electrical work requires a Electrical Permit Application. Public Act 217 requires a licensed electrical contractor to apply for the permit, and a licensed electrician must be on-site when electrical work is being performed.

A residential property owner may apply for and receive a homeowner's permit, however, the homeowner must actually do the work. It is illegal for a homeowner to receive a permit when someone else does the work.

When do I need a Plumbing Permit?
Generally, whenever any plumbing work is being done, a Plumbing Permit is required. A licensed Master Plumber is required to apply for, and receive this permit.

Why do I need a plot plan to install a refrigeration unit?
Air conditioner condensers are considered accessory structures, and accessory structures are not permitted in the required side yard. If you have a question regarding the placement of an air conditioner, please contact the Mechanical Inspector at 248.530.1857.

Do I need a permit to install a furnace?
Yes, a heating permit is required.  Download the Mechanical Permit Application.

If demolition work is taking place, for either commercial or residential structures, a Demolition Permit Application is required to be submitted.  If there are any questions regarding the need for a Demolition Permit, please contact one of our Building Inspectors.  248.530.1850

Can the City recommend a contractor?
The City cannot recommend contractors.

Does the City limit where my home may be placed on my lot?
The Zoning Ordinance regulates the size of lots as well as the placement of a residence on a lot. Typically, these restrictions regarding placement are referred to as setbacks, which means the distance a structure must be placed or setback from the lot line.

Anyone contemplating building a new house or addition should contact the Building Department for setback information. Required setbacks may be different today than when your home was constructed.

What is the role of the Board of Zoning Appeals and when does the Board meet?
The Board hears appeals from the City's Zoning Ordinance. These appeals are typically variances from setback requirements. The Board meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the City Commission Room of the Municipal Building. To file an appeal, a Board of Zoning Appeals Application and the required information must be submitted by the 15th of the month preceding the meeting. The Board's agenda is restricted to seven (7) items, so the first seven applications received will be heard at the meeting.

Is there a limitation on the amount of paved surface in the front yard of a home?
The Zoning Ordinance limits the amount of paved surface which is defined as concrete, blacktop, gravel, brick, or a similar material in the front yard. The Ordinance requires a minimum of 65% of the front open space be free of paved surfaces. 

Does the City enforce deed restrictions?
The City does not enforce deed restrictions. Typically, deed restrictions are enforced by Subdivision Associations. Any deed restrictions are recorded at the Oakland County Register of Deeds.

What inspections or approvals are required to obtain a Final Certificate of Occupancy?
Before the Building Inspector will issue a Final Certificate of Occupancy, final mechanical, electrical, and plumbing inspections must be completed and approved.

What regulations apply to swimming pools and spas?
Please contact the building department for swimming pool and spa regulations.  248.530.1850

Are there specifications for garages and other outbuildings?
Yes, please refer to the Birmingham Specifications for Detached Garage and Accessory Buildings.