Code Enforcement

Project Completion

Finishing your project does not mark the end of the Permitting Process road. The City must document the outcome of its permits, no matter what, if anything, happened.

For zoning permits issued before July 1, 2020, the owner should request a CO as soon as the project is completed. Zoning staff will then schedule an inspection to determine if the project was built as shown on the approved site plans and elevations, and that all the conditions of approval have been met.  For zoning permits issued more recently, zoning staff will schedule inspection based on completion of trades inspections or the zoning permit expiration date.  In such cases, you do not need to specifically request a CO.  

In 1997, the Vermont Supreme Court's Bianchi Decision (1997) determined that all municipal permits, approved on or after July 13, 1989, must be reviewed for compliance in order to sell real estate. The City issues Certificates of Occupancy to satisfy this requirement. The possible outcomes of this review are:

  1. Project was built in conformance with plans, zoning conditions of approval, and health and safety codes; and all fees paid in full.
  2. Project was built in conformance with plans, zoning conditions of approval, and health and safety codes, but one or more parts were not undertaken.
  3. Project was not built in conformance with plans and zoning conditions of approval. See Project Changes. A project can not be in violation of the health and safety codes - the City Building Official will issue a stop work order and require compliance immediately.
  4. Project was not built. See Project Not Built.

To document compliance, the City uses four (4) types of "Certificates of Occupancy" for zoning and construction permits issued:

  1. Zoning Certificate of Occupancy - The City's internal document used for all Zoning permits.
  2. Building Certificate of Occupancy - The City's internal document used for Building permits where the project is physically occupied by people.
  3. Unified Certificate of Occupancy - A document for public use listing all permits that received Certificates of Occupancy for a project. This is filed in the City Land Records, and given to the property owner.
  4. Temporary Zoning Certificate of Occupancy - A Zoning Certificate of Occupancy which expires after a certain number of days.

State law REQUIRES compliance review for zoning and construction permits. This is not optional, regardless of which of the above four outcomes occurred.

Construction Permits are issued to insure compliance with building health and safety codes. Therefore inspections are ongoing during construction. The City Building Official determines whether all building codes have been met, and issues Certificates of Occupancy where appropriate. When your project is done, call the City Building Official (802-863-9094) and request a final inspection.

Finally, when all the Certificates of Occupancy for permits issued for a project have been obtained, a single document called a Unified Certificate of Occupancy is issued that lists all the permits for the project that received Certificates of Occupancy. The Department of Permtting & Inspections issues Unified Certificates of Occupancy, when its project permit review is complete.

Unified Certificates of Occupancy are filed in the City Land Records by property address. For real estate title searches for impending sales, lawyers and/or paralegals search the City's permit database, physical zoning files, and the Land Records to find what permits have been issued for a property. They also look for Unified Certificates of Occupancy to check for compliance in accordance with the Bianchi Decision and legislation that followed.

If Certificates of Occupancy are not found, then the property owner must obtain a Certificate of Occupancy from the Department of Code Enforcement prior to any re-financing or sale. Please keep this in mind.