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Building Permits

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Before construction of a new building or structure or renovation to existing ones, an owner, or the owner's builder, architect, engineer, or agent, shall submit an application in writing to the appropriate enforcing agency for a building permit. A permit is also required when the use or occupancy of a structure or portion thereof is changed.
Questions regarding building permits should be directed to the Building Department at 248-530-1850. 

The Building Code

The purpose of the building code is to insure public safety, health and welfare insofar as they are affected by building construction, through structural strength, adequate egress facilities, sanitary equipment, light and ventilation, and fire safety; and, in general, to secure safety to life and property from all hazards incident to the design, erection, repair, removal, demolition or use and occupancy of buildings, structures or premises.

The building code controls all matters concerning the construction, alteration, addition, repair, removal, demolition, use, location, occupancy, and maintenance of all buildings and structures and their service equipment. The 2015 Michigan Building Code went into effect statewide on April 20, 2017. Provisions for one- and two-family dwellings, townhouses and their accessory structures as identified in R101.2 are included in the 2015 Michigan Residential Code.

State Licensing

A person engaged in the construction of a residential structure or a combination residential and commercial structure must be licensed as a Residential Builder with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. There are certain exceptions in the licensing law (P.A. 299 of 1980, as amended) to this requirement.

Plans and Specifications (Construction Documents)

Complete sets of construction documents are required with each application for a permit as specified in the application for building permit. The submission of construction documents may be waived by the Building Official when code compliance can be determined based on the description in the application. Construction documents must be sealed and signed by an architect or professional engineer in accordance with P.A. 299 of 1980, as amended. The seal and signature is not required for one and two family dwellings less than 3,500 square feet of calculated floor area or habitable space.  For new residential construction, construction documents must be submitted along with an Engineering Site Evaluation Permit  Application for site drainage, sewer and water service, and City tree report review. 

Demolition Permit Information

A demolition permit is necessary prior to the complete or partial demolition of any building or structure either commercial or residential. Requirements specific to demolition projects are included with the application for building permit and can be found on the 'Permits and Licenses' page .

Requirements for Residential Demolitions

The following items are required to be submitted by the owner or the owner’s agent at the time of submittal for application of demolition:

Approved Disconnect Notices

  • Disconnect notice from DTE for electrical service.
  • Disconnect notice from Consumers Energy for gas service.
  • Written verification indicating that telephone and cable lines will be disconnected at the time of demolition.
  • City of Birmingham water disconnect and meter removal from property.

Construction Documents

  • A survey of the property showing the proposed structure(s) to be demolished.
  • Verification of written notice to adjoining property owners notifying them of your intent to demolish structure(s) at this property.  Provide our office with the addresses that were notified.  Be sure to also provide adjoining property owner's with project contact information.
  • A 4x6 color photograph of the front, back and both sides of the house to be demolished.  If the property has a detached garage, include a photo of just the front of the structure (In cooperation with the Historic Board, we require 4”x 6” color photos of all sides of the house you are requesting to demolish be submitted with your demolition permit application in order to retain a record of all houses previously built in Birmingham).

Written Letter of Intent Addressing and Confirming the Following Requirements

  • Rigid fencing will be installed around the entire lot; the front fencing will be back a minimum   of 1 foot from the sidewalk.
  • Silt fencing will be buried 6 inches around the perimeter of the property inside the rigid fencing.
  • The property address will be posted on the construction fencing.
  • City trees in the right of way will be protected from any damage during construction.
  • Verification of written notice to adjoining property owners notifying them of your intent to demolish the structure(s) at this property.  Please provide our department with the addresses which have been notified.
  • Sidewalks will be kept clear for passage at all times during demolition or a Sidewalk Obstruction permit obtained from the City Engineering Division.
  • Sidewalks, streets and parkways will be maintained free of dirt and debris.
  • The approximate date of the demolition.

A demolition permit application cannot be accepted unless all items are complete.  Construction site and requirements as listed  above will be inspected and verified by Code Enforcement before the demolition permit will be issued.       

Electrical Permit Information

A person shall not equip a building with electrical conductors or equipment or make an alteration of, change in, or addition to, electrical conductors or equipment without receiving a permit to do the work described. (The code refers to Act 217 of 1956 for certain exemptions for unregulated electrical work.)

The electrical code covers installations of electric conductors and equipment within or on public and private buildings and structures, installations of conductors that connect to the supply of electricity, and installations of other outside conductors on the premises. The purpose of the electrical code is to provide practical safeguards to persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity. The code contains provisions considered necessary for safety. Presently, the State Electrical Code consists of the 2015 National Electrical Code with Part 8 Technical Amendments. Provisions for one- and two-family dwellings are included in the 2015 Michigan Residential Code.

To obtain electrical permits, an applicant shall be an electrical contractor or specialty contractor licensed by a municipality or by the State Electrical Administrative Board or a homeowner performing electrical work in a single family home and accompanying outbuildings owned and occupied, or to be occupied, by the person performing the installation.

Mechanical Permit Information

Except for replacement of minor parts, mechanical work shall not be started until a permit for such work has been issued by the appropriate enforcing agency.  A homeowner must secure a permit for work they are performing at their residence, and mechanical contractors are responsible for permits on work they are performing on behalf of an owner.

The purpose of the mechanical code is to provide adequate requirements considered essential for the safe installation of all mechanical equipment in order to protect the public safety, health and welfare. The code sets forth comprehensive regulations for the safe installation of mechanical facilities where great reliance was previously placed on accepted practice and engineering standards.

The mechanical code controls the design, installation, maintenance, alteration, and inspection of mechanical systems, including heating systems, ventilating systems, steam and hot water heating systems, process piping, boilers and pressure vessels, appliances utilizing gas, liquid or solid fuel, chimneys and vents, mechanical refrigeration systems, fireplaces, barbecues, incinerators, crematories, fire suppression systems, air pollution control systems, and systems utilizing solar or geothermal energy. The 2015 Michigan Mechanical Code went into effect April 12, 2017. Provisions for one- and two-family dwellings are included in the 2015 Michigan Residential Code.

A mechanical contractor's license with the appropriate classification is required for the performance of installing, altering, or servicing the following: (1) Hydronic Heating and Cooling and Process Piping, (2) HVAC Equipment, (3) Ductwork, (4) Refrigeration, (5) Limited Heating Service, (6) Unlimited Heating Service (7) Limited Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service (8) Unlimited Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service, (9) Fire Suppression, (10) Specialty.  However, an owner of a single family dwelling who will occupy or occupies the residence may perform the work without a license.
Permits for steam or vapor boilers carrying a pressure of not more than 15 p.s.i.g., which are located in private residences or in apartment houses of less than 6 families must be secured by a licensed mechanical contractor classified in the hydronic heating and cooling, and process piping classifications. 

Permits are not required for temporary/portable equipment (heating, ventilation, cooling units, evaporative cooler, gas burners with less than 30,000 Btu/hr), self-contained refrigeration equipment such as window-type air conditioners of not more than 1.5 hp, and oil burners not requiring connection to a flue (oil stoves, heaters equipped with wick).

Plumbing Permit Information

Plumbing work shall not be started until a permit for such work has been issued by the appropriate enforcing agency.  A permit is not required for repairs which involve only the working parts of a faucet or valve or clearance of stoppages provided alterations are not made in the existing piping or fixtures.

The purpose of the plumbing code is to insure the proper installation of systems for furnishing potable water, for sanitary sewage disposal and storm drainage; and to insure public safety, health, and welfare insofar as affected by the installation of plumbing.

The plumbing code controls the design and installation of plumbing systems, including sanitary and storm drainage, sanitary facilities, water supplies, and storm water and sewage disposal in buildings. The 2018 Michigan Plumbing Code went into effect January 1, 2022.  Provisions for one- and two-family dwellings are included in the 2015 Michigan Residential Code.

Plumbing is the practice, materials and fixtures used in the installation, maintenance, extension, and alteration of all piping, fixtures, plumbing appliances, and plumbing appurtenances in connection with sanitary drainage or storm drainage facilities; venting systems and public or private water supply systems, within or adjacent to any building or structure.

To obtain plumbing permits, an applicant shall be a licensed plumbing contractor or a homeowner installing his/her own plumbing, building sewer, or private sewer. The state or a governmental subdivision shall require the plumbing contractor to record his or her current plumbing contractor license number on the permit application. A licensed plumbing contractor shall designate 1 or more licensed master plumbers employed full-time who directly supervise the installation of plumbing to obtain permits using the license number of the plumbing contractor. The master plumber's license number must also be recorded on the permit application.

To increase department efficiency issuing permits and eliminate redundant costs to contractors (paying base permits fees twice), the Refrigeration Permit was recently merged with the Mechanical Permit.  Mechanical and refrigeration permit and inspection requirements are now processed in a single permit.  

Impervious Surface (Driveways, Patios & Walkways, and Sheds)

An Impervious Surface Permit is required for new and replacement driveways, patios, walkways over three feet in width, etc. These are installations that prevent the infiltration of surface water, such as concrete, asphalt, brick, stone pavers or a similar material. The Zoning Ordinance requires that all new impervious surfaces, including replacements, modifications or enlargements of the existing impervious surfaces shall have a survey prepared and certified by a registered land surveyor (a mortgage survey is also acceptable in most instances), provided, however, when the new impervious surface is not part of the house or garage and the building official is furnished with documentation other than a certified survey from which the building official can determine that a minimum of 50 percent open space is maintained, and the new impervious surface will not violate any provision of Chapter 126 (Zoning) of the Code, the building official may waive this requirement.  Documentation must be provided to demonstrate that water runoff from the proposed improvement will not negatively affect the neighboring properties.

An Impervious Surface Permit is required whenever a new accessory structure under 200 square feet is installed on your property or an existing one is replaced, and needs to be issued prior to installing the structure. Two copies of a site plan indicating where the structure will be placed along with construction drawings showing how it will be assembled are required with the permit application.  Impervious Surface Permits are easy to obtain and are usually issued within several days after we confirm that its setbacks and height comply with the ordinance. 

Zoning Ordinance Permit Information

Permits are necessary and required to insure compliance with certain provisions of the Zoning Ordinance.

The Zoning Ordinance of the City of Birmingham, referred to as the “Zoning Ordinance”, is intended to guide the growth and development within the City of Birmingham in accordance with the City’s goals, objectives, and strategies stated within the Birmingham Master Plan and Downtown Birmingham 2016 Plan. The provisions of the ordinance guide the use of property by establishing districts where similar uses exist together. Examples include single family, multi-family and business districts. These districts are broken down further depending on factors such as lot size and their proximity to the downtown business and commercial district. There are four single family zoned districts within Birmingham. They are R1, R1a, R2, and R3. The Zoning Ordinance contains development provisions regulating height, bulk and area for single family properties that vary slightly per district depending on the size of the lot, how wide it is, and whether or not it is a corner lot.

Fence Permit

A fence permit is required whenever a new fence is installed on your property or an existing one is replaced and needs to be issued prior to installing the fence. Fence permits are easy to obtain and are usually issued within a day or two after we confirm that its location and height comply with the ordinance.