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BulletWhat’s a Building Permit?
A building permit gives you legal permission to start construction of a building project in accordance with approved drawings and specifications.

BulletWhen Do You Need a Permit?
The best way to find out if you need a permit is to call your local building department. Discuss your plans with the code official before you begin construction to determine whether you need a permit. If a permit is not needed, the code official will answer your construction questions and may provide valuable advice. Permits are usually required for the following:

  • New buildings
  • Additions (bedrooms, bathrooms, family rooms, etc.)
  • Residential work (decks, garages, fences over 6 feet tall, fireplaces, in-ground pools, etc.)
  • Renovations (garage conversions, kitchen expansions, etc.)
  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing systems
  • HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) systems

BulletWhat Good Does a Permit Do?
Your home or business is an investment. If your constructions project does not comply with the codes adopted by your community, the value of your investment could be reduced. Property insurers may not cover work done without permits and inspections. If you decide to sell a home or building that has had modifications without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied or do costly repairs.

A property owner who can show that code requirements were strictly and consistently met – as demonstrated by a code official’s carefully maintained records – has a strong ally if something happens to trigger a potentially destructive lawsuit.

Your permit also allows the code official to protect the public by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction and ensuring public heath, safety and welfare. By following code guidelines, your completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends or future owners.

BulletWhat construction codes are currently enforced?

  • 2015 International Residential Code
  • 2015 International Building Code
  • 2014 National Electrical Code as adopted by the State of Iowa
  • 2012 International Mechanical Code as adopted by the State of Iowa
  • 2012 Uniform Plumbing Code as adopted by the State of Iowa

BulletWhat is the maximum size building I can construct without a permit?
A permit is not required to construct a detached building that is 200 square feet or less. This permit exemption is only applicable to a one-story accessory structure used as a tool shed, storage shed, playhouse or similar use. Any addition of square footage to an existing house would require a permit, regardless of size.

BulletDo I need a permit for a window replacement?
The replacement of a window does not require a permit provided that headers are not moved, altered or replaced.  Where windows are required to provide emergency escape and rescue openings they shall be replaced by windows that maintain the compliance.  In instances where the existing window does not comply, the replacement window shall be exempt from compliance only if replaced with the largest standard sized window that will fit within the existing frame or rough opening.  The replacement window shall be permitted to be of the same operating style as the existing window or a style that provides for an equal or greater window opening area than the existing window.

BulletDo I need a permit for replacement of a deck?
Construction of a deck will always require a permit, even if replacing an existing deck of the exact same size. Replacement of any singular components of a deck, including required guard rails or the stairs that serve the deck will also require a permit. These requirements apply to a deck of any size whether the deck is attached to the house or detached/freestanding.

BulletHow long is my permit good for?
Every permit shall begin work within 180 days of its issuance. Once work has begun, it shall not be suspended or abandoned for a period exceeding 180 days. The entire project shall be completed within 24 months of the date on which the permit was issued. The building official is authorized to grant, one or more extensions of time, for periods of 180 days. The extension shall be requested in writing and justifiable cause demonstrated. Additional fees will be necessary to renew a permit which has expired.

BulletWhat are the building inspectors hours?
Office hours are from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Typically, inspectors are in the field performing inspections from 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM and are available for questions before and after their inspections. We also attempt to have an inspector in the office between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM when the schedule allows for it. Our office number is (319) 356-6085. Please leave a detailed voicemail if an inspector cannot be reached.

BulletHow do I get an address for my property?
An address for a new home or commercial building will be assigned by the Planning and Zoning Department once the building permit has been approved. A sign will be added to the property soon afterwards, depending on the weather.

BulletWhere do I get a septic and well permit for my property?
Contact the Johnson County Public Health Department: 855 S Dubuque Street Suite 217 Iowa City, IA 52240, phone (319) 356-6040

BulletHow long does it take for permit application approval?
A permit application may take between 5 to 10 working days to process.  Please keep in mind that the more complete the information and drawings are at the time of submittal, the more likely it is that we can speed up the review process.  This time frame does not apply to a permit that will require a variance, rezoning, or a boundary line adjustment. 

BulletHow do I apply for a permit within the city limits of Oxford?
Applications for City of Oxford permits shall be made at the city:

Oxford City Hall
205 N Augusta Ave
PO Box 481
Oxford, IA 52322
Contact:  Penny Jenn
(319) 828-4742 phone; (319) 828-8095 fax
Hours: Mon - Fri 9-6

BulletHow do I apply for a permit within the city limits of Swisher?
Applications for City of Swisher permits shall be made at the city:

Swisher City Hall
66 Second St. SW
PO Box 279
Swisher, IA 52338
Contact:  Tawnia Kakacek
(319) 857-4539 phone; (319) 857-4529 fax
Hours: Mon 9-6; Tues 8-4; Wed Closed; Thurs 8-4; Fri 8-4 

BulletHow do I apply for a permit within the city limits of Shueyville?
Applications for City of Shueyville permits shall be made at the city:

Shueyville City Hall
2863 120th St. NE
Shueyville, IA 52338
Contact:  Teresa Eadie
(319) 848-7626 phone; (319) 848-3293 fax
Hours: Mon - Thurs 9-noon; Fri Closed