BSCE - Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Permits and Zoning office located?

The permit office is located at 451 South State Street Room 215, Salt Lake City. This is the City and County Building located between 400 and 500 South and between State Street and 200 East. You will find parking on State Street, 200 East and limited parking on 500 South. There is also short term, 30 minute parking in the circle off of 200 East. Additionally, there is parking under the Salt Lake City Library. The entrance to the Library parking is on 400 South between 200 and 300 East. Our hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm and Wednesday 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Why do I need a permit?

The purpose of building permits is to provide minimum requirements to safeguard the public safety, health and general welfare and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment. No person, firm or corporation shall erect, construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, improve, remove, convert or demolish any building, structure or premises, or make any installation, alteration or improvement to the electrical, plumbing or mechanical system in a building, structure or premises, or cause the same to be done, without first obtaining the prescribed permits for each such building or structure or premises from the building official.

When do I need a permit?

Basically, all work being done requires a permit. The only exception to this is painting, laying flooring or other cosmetic issues. Please check with the Permits Office if you are not sure. The permit staff can be reached at 801-535-6000. Other exemptions include: playhouses and similar uses under 200 square feet; oil derricks; movable cases, counters and partitions not over five feet high; retaining walls which are not over two feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding flammable liquids; water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed five thousand gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed two to one; painting, papering and similar finish work; temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery; window awnings supported by an exterior wall of Group R, Division 3, and Group M occupancies, when projecting not more than 54 inches.

Can I obtain the permit myself?

If the structure is YOUR primary residence (the one you reside in), you may take out the permits. If this is a rental or commercial property, you will need to have a contractor obtain the permits and do the work required. If the work being done can be considered general maintenance or repair under $1000 in valuation, an owner may obtain the permit. General maintenance does include roofing, but does not include anything structural, i.e., cutting in a new window, putting up taking down a structural load bearing wall. The best way to determine if the work is general repair/maintenance or goes beyond this scope is to call the office and speak to a plans examiner.

How are permit fees decided?

Permit fees are based on the value of the project. The value of the project is all material and a reasonable labor, or is based on the contractor's bid. There are fee tables and valuation tables on the web site for determining these figures.

Salt Lake City accepts cash, credit cards, checks and echecks for payment.

When do I need a contractor?

Unless the work is considered non-structural maintenance, you will need a contractor for any work being done on a rental property, whether it is a single family dwelling or multiple tenant building. You will also need a contractor on any commercial project. See "Can I obtain the permit myself?"

Who is responsible for getting the permit?

If there is a contractor on the job, it is his responsibility according to state law to obtain the permit and see to the inspections. Be aware, if you hire a contractor and take out the permits yourself, you are liable for the work being done to code and not your contractor. This means that if there are corrections to be made in the work, we come back to you, not your contractor. If you hire a contractor, make sure that he takes out the permit and has the inspections done. If you have any questions, call the Permits office at 801-535-6000.

Who is responsible for the inspections?

The person who obtained the permits, whether it be the owner or the contractor, is the person responsible for making sure the inspections are done and passed.

What happens when you don't obtain a permit?

If you fail to obtain a permit and the City is made aware of this, we issue what is called a Stop Work (RED TAG) on the address. With this red tag, you could be charged a double fee on the job. If a permit is still not obtained, a citation may be issued. Payment of such increased fees shall not relieve any persons from fully complying with the requirements. Eventually, if a permit is not obtained, the City will file a Certificate of Non-Compliance on the property, letting all interested parties know that work was done on the address without permits and inspections. This can hold up the sale of the property until it is resolved.

Exception-Emergency Work. This provision shall not apply to emergency work when it shall be proved to the satisfaction of the building official that such work was urgently necessary and that it was not practical to obtain a permit before the commencement of the work. In all such cases, a permit must be obtained as soon as it is practical to do so, generally the next day, and if there be an unreasonable delay in obtaining a permit, a double fee, as herein provided, shall be charged.

How do I find out if the contractor I've hired is a state licensed contractor?

To find out whether a contractor is licensed or if they are licensed to perform the work that is being done, you will need to contact the Utah State Department of Professional Licensing (DOPL) at 801-530-4849. Information can also be found on their web site.

What does zoning do for me?

The purpose of zoning is to promote the health, safety, morals, convenience, order, prosperity and welfare of the present and future inhabitants of Salt Lake City, to implement the adopted plans of the City, and to carry out the purposes of the Municipal Land Use Development and Management Act, which is intended to: lessen congestion in the streets or roads; secure safety from fire and other dangers; provide adequate light and air; classify land uses and distribute land development and utilization; foster the City's industrial, business and residential development; and protect the environment.

What is my zoning?

Click here to determine the zoning of your property.

What can I do in this zone?

The use allowed in the zone is determined by the Salt Lake City Zoning Ordinance, Title 21A. Follow this link to get to the zoning ordinance to determine the use and go to Title 21A.

If my home is in an historic district, what is my first step in taking out a permit?

If your home is in an historic district, or a legally recognized historic structure, you will need to contact Salt Lake City Planning. From there you can determine what can or cannot be done to this structure.

What is a site plan?

A site plan is a drawing comprised of the verified property line location, dimensions, direction from back of curb or sidewalk to property line, dimension of parkway strip, lot square footage, scale and north arrow direction; streets, alleys, affected easements and right-of-ways; location and dimensions of all hard surfaced areas including curb and gutter, sidewalks, driveways, parking spaces, loading areas, garbage areas and access points to public streets or alleys; the size, shape and location of all existing and proposed structures including overhang projections, garages, carports, sheds and the distance to the nearest point of any dwelling or garage on abutting properties. Front, side and rear yard setback dimensions from property line to all existing and proposed structures; parking strip layout, including lawn areas, location of existing and proposed street trees, sprinkler system and curb cuts. To see a sample site plan, click here.

What comprises a set of plans?

A set of plans necessary to obtain a permit could contain a number of items including:

  • a site plan

  • a floor plan

  • cross sections

  • elevations

  • engineered truss details

  • existing/proposed topography

  • soils reports

  • joist layouts

  • footing/foundation details

  • heat loss calculations

  • drainage plans

  • parking calculations

  • any other pertinent information

What design criteria is required?

Design criteria is the basic information required to draw or construct plans. To find a complete listing, click here.

What codes are currently being used?

To find a complete listing of the current codes being used within the corporate limits of SLC, click here.

What do you look for on a tenant finish?

The following is reviewed for a tenant finish: the path of egress travel; elevator lobbies; ADA compliance; glazing; emergency lighting and exiting; smoke detectors, alarms, horns; seismic bracing; penetrations; wood used in fire-penetrated walls, etc.

How long does it take to get my plans approved and a permit issued?

Minor plan reviews can be done over the counter. Plans that are logged in are reviewed on a first come, first served basis. The size of the plans are not taken into consideration when reviewing. Plans requiring a more complete review can take anywhere from three to six weeks for first review. After the first review is completed, the next review depends on when the corrections or additional information comes in. When the corrections or additional information is received, they are done as soon as possible and do not go back into the system to wait for another review. For plan check information and status you can call the office with your plan review number that is given to you at the time you log the plans in and pay the plan review fee.

How do I schedule an inspection?

You may schedule an inspection one of two ways. You may call the automated interactive voice response system at 801-535-6000. To use this system you only need to know you permit number and the code for the type of inspection being requested. You will receive a list of codes at the time your permit is issued.  You may also schedule inspections online.

How many pets can I have in my home?

The zoning ordinance does not deal with animals. Please call Salt Lake County Animal Services.

Do I need a permit for a garage? What do I need?

Yes, a permit is required to tear down or build a garage. Click here for this information.

Do I need a permit for a fence? What do I need?

The installation of a fence requires a permit from Building Services. "Fence" means a structure erected to provide privacy or security which defines a private space and may enhance the design of individual sites. A wall or similar barrier is also considered to be a fence. The fee for most residential fences is $34.00. However, fences exceeding 6' in height require additional construction code review and fall under the general permit fee schedule for construction. For additional information about fences please click here.

Do I need a permit to replace doors or windows? What do I need?

Yes, permits are required to replace exterior doors or windows. We normally require a window schedule to replace windows. The window schedule should include a listing of the size and type of window being added/replaced and the room that the window is in, i.e., bedroom, living room, etc. A window schedule can be found here.

What are impact fees?

Click here for information about impact fees.

How do I obtain historic permit information?

In general, permits and plans are kept electronically, indefinitely.  Building plans and designs are not routinely released to the public; however, they may be viewed at 451 S. State St., Room 215.  Most building permit information may be obtained through Citizen Access at: https://aca.slcgov.com/citizen/. Older records may be requested for a fee at: http://www.slcgov.com/recorder/recorders-office-public-records-system.  

Why are separate permits/inspections required?

Salt Lake City code states that each contractor shall procure a permit to cover the work he/she performs. This is to ensure that the correct tradesman is responsible for the work that he/she is performing.

Can I get copies of plans/permits?

Plans that are drawn up are considered by default to be copyrighted, whether stamped by a professional engineer, architect or other design professional.  Copyrighted plans cannot be copied without express permission of the designer.

Why is a contractor required to take out permits on rental property or commercial projects?

State law states that rental property is considered commercial property and work on all commercial property must be have permits issued to state licensed contractors to ensure that the work being done is to current code.