If you build anything over three feet high you will require a permit. This includes decks, retaining walls and any solid roof. Typically this is an assembly of documents that includes a site plan showing all utilities plus existing and proposed structures, adjacent property structures within 15 feet, fence as well as property lines, grade and structure profile, and legal data. Construction and structural details are required. Most structures will require a licensed civil engineer's stamp.  Check with your local government for your specific permit requirements. They should provide you with all the necessary forms and instructions. 

I have never had to acquire an architectural permit before. My porch project required that I have a permit. As permits are considered public domain,  I found three structural additions in the neighborhood and requested to see the permit applications for them. The city I live in let me read them for free. I took notes of all the data I needed and considered how I would use these as samples for my permit application preparation. This really helped me know what the city expected of me. All this in addition to performing my own drafting and profile surveying probably saved, at a minimum, $1,500.00 dollars. I was lucky as I know a local architect, David A. Clark,  who put his stamp on my drawings for free. I will hold him harmless if the structure collapses and kills my cat. Don't worry, it won't. I used the International Residential Code to find the proper sizing and spacing for the posts, beams and rafters. When in doubt, build it stout. 



With the help of my old Wild T16 Theodolite I surveyed the property. The cyan values are the profile measurements based on the sewer manhole lid just north of the property in the street. The red locations are the profile points required by the city permit standards to calculate the average surface height. This is  used to determine that the roof height does not exceed the maximum height of 25'. I use a 5 gal. plastic container filled with some sand to hold up a telescoping height stick. A fence post leveling gauge is duct taped to the height stick and used to determine if the stick is upright.

See the Permit Application Site Plan Drawing

See the Permit Application Site Plan JPG


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International Building Code

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International Building Code



Traffic Control

In the course of site construction frontage road traffic may need to be modified. traffic control plan drawings must be prepared and submitted with the building permit. Traffic plans are standardized through the application of the current Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

To see the current traffic control standards:  Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices 2003


Reference Links

NAFFA International

International Building Code