Building Codes and Permitting Process

A building permit must be obtained from the Development Services Building Safety Division for nearly all types of new building construction, additions, remodeling or repair work prior to start of construction. Construction work also includes installation or replacement of mechanical/HVAC equipment (such as a furnace or central air conditioning unit), electrical wiring and equipment (such as an electrical panel box or a new electrical circuit), and plumbing piping and equipment (such as a water heater, water or gas supply line, or sewer service line). A building permit may also be required when the use classification of a building or a building space changes, for example, from an office use to a retail business use or from a warehouse use to a retail business use, even when there is limited or no remodeling of the building or space. Permits to demolish buildings or portions of buildings must also be obtained from the Building Safety Division before demolition begins. Certain types of construction, remodeling or repair are exempt from the requirement for a building permit.

Building permit applications and any required project plans are reviewed by Building Safety Division and appropriate City staff for compliance with City Adopted Codes, including building, trade and fire codes, and other relevant codes such as the Land Development Code and Contractor and Trade Licensing Codes. Building permits are broadly classified as either 1 & 2-Family Residential, or Commercial (all permits for other than 1 & 2-Family Residential, including multifamily projects with three or more dwelling units). Detailed information on the building permit application, review and issuance process, along with applicable permit application forms, applicable codes, guidance documents and similar information can be found at 1 & 2-Family Dwelling Building Permits or Commercial Building Permits.

After a building permit is issued, City inspectors must inspect work at various phases of permitted construction to help ensure compliance with construction code and permit requirements. Detailed information on required inspections and how to schedule and obtain results of inspections may be found at Building Permit Inspections and Scheduling.

Most new buildings and building addition projects of any type, and most major commercial alteration/remodeling projects require that an official City of Lawrence Certificate of Occupancy is issued prior to public use and occupancy of the new building or space. Detailed information may be found at Certificate of Occupancy Requirements, Policies & Procedures.