Construction Permit FAQs

For questions concerning construction permit activity on a property, (i.e., application pending, historic, open, pending approval, awaiting payment, closed, etc.,) please contact DPW/ISD Customer Service directly at (802) 863-9094 x 3.   For all technical aspects on the construction details, please contact that inspector appointed to that discipline.  https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/DPW/Construction-Permits/Staff

At all times during a project permits are required to be posted in full view and at the ready upon request by the inspector.  At the end of the project the inspector of that discipline will sign and date your copy of the permit as an indication the project is complete and have for your records.

Recycling Construction Materials in the State of Vermont   

Vermont – Act 175

Act 175 is Vermont’s construction & demolition waste management law, enacted to reduce waste from commercial development projects that would otherwise end up in landfills. The law requires certain generators of construction & demolition debris to separate specific materials (drywall, metal, asphalt shingles, clean wood, plywood, and OSB) for reuse or recycling. Reusing or recycling these materials is essential for LEED projects and in most cases will save you money, even in smaller quantities.

Does Act 175 apply to my project? 

Check any of the following that apply to you:

  • The project is in Chittenden County, or otherwise within 20 miles of a facility that will recycle C&D materials listed below.
  • The project is a commercial building OR is a residential building with two or more units.
  • The project will create any of the following C&D material leftovers: drywall, metal, asphalt shingles, clean wood, plywood, or oriented strand board (OSB).
  • The project will generate enough of the material listed above to fill a 40-cubic-yard container. (For example, a roll-off dumpster that is 6’10” high and 22 feet long.)

If you selected ALL of the above, then state law requires that you make sure those C&D materials are either reused or recycled. You cannot send them to a landfill.

For more and complete information concerning Act 175 Vermont's construction & demolition waste management law please visit the Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD) web site at http://cswd.net/recycling/construction-demolition-waste/.

ASBESTOS & Lead Safe Practices

Asbestos inspection/removal requirements must apply to all demolition/renovation projects and Lead Safe Work Practice requirements need to apply to all pre-1978 housing maintenance/renovation projects in the City and State.

Asbestos & Lead-based Paint Removal Permits are required by the State Department of Health.  

The City of Burlington does not require permits, only the State Department of health.  State of Vermont – Department of Health regulations require inspection for the presence of asbestos and an abatement notification/permit for asbestos removal projects in the City and State.  In addition, a Notice of Intent to demolish is required for all demolition projects.  Lead Safe Work Practices are required where applicable and that includes State and Federal Lead Safe Renovation contracting entity certification and trained workers on each construction project site.  Please contact the State of Vermont Department of Health directly for information specific to Asbestos and Lead Safe Work Practice requirements at; http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/asbestos/asbestos.aspx.

ADA Standards for Accessible Design shall apply.

All design standards must apply to all public use projects without exception.   https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/2010ADAStandards/2010ADAStandards_prt.pdf

Building & Zoning permits go together most of the time

Every Zoning Permit issued covering (but not limited to) lot coverage, change of use, exterior changes requires a Building Permit.  When Zoning Permits are not required a building permits (life safety/structural) are always required.  Building permits may not be issued until the Zoning Permit has been "released" to the applicant.   

Note:  Please contact the  Building Inspector's Office at Department of Public Works located on Pine Street and start covering life safety/structural issued connected to your project at the time you start the land use (Zoning) permitting process & procedures.   This will streamline plans review and documentation collection with the objective to issue both permits the same day.    

=> For Zoning (Land-use) permits contact ZONING OFFICE ((802) 865-7188) located on the first level of City Hall located at 149 Church Street, Burlington.  Their office hours are from 8 AM - 4:30 PM M-F., less recognized Federal & State holidays.

=> For construction (life safety/structural) permits contact DPW/ISD OFFICE ((802) 863-9094 X 3) located at 645 Pine Street.  Their office hours are between 8 AM -4:30 PM M-F., less Federal & State recognized holidays.

 

Building Applications attached to approved Zoning Permits are placeholders, not permits

Generated at the time Zoning Permit’s (ZP) are approved electronic building Application pending are attached as a placeholder.  Once generated it remains attached to that ZP waiting for the applicant to act as part of meeting the ZP’s Standard Conditions (1& 2) requirements.  Once the applicant meets with the Building Inspector it will be determined by the Building Official with making the change and turning that placeholder into a legal document, supporting the structural and life safety requirements for that project and use classification in that area. 

Please confirm all conditions on all permits secured to avoid misunderstandings and penalties supporting clean and clear record keeping on your property.   

 

Building Energy Efficiency Standards assistance availabile

Technical assistance is available to answer questions about the Residential and Commercial Building Energy Efficiency Standards.  Please contact the Burlington Electric Department (BED) Energy Services Division to ensure that projects meet the energy codes.  BED reviews project plans with customers and then issues an Energy Efficiency Code Compliance Memo to the Inspection Services Division.  There is no additional fee for this service. While working with BED, customers are also made aware of all additional technical assistance and cash incentives available through BED, and Vermont Gas Systems, to projects interested in exceeding the required code. Please visit BED online or call 865-7342 for more information. It is strongly recommended that you contact BED during the planning stages of the project or at the same time that your project is being reviewed through the zoning process so BED can offer the maximum level of technical assistance and cash incentives.

 

Building permits are not required for stand alone insulation projects?

Permits are not required or fees need to be paid to increase insulation values where building materials with structural integrity remain in place.   Please visit and follow the Department of Public Service https://publicservice.vermont.gov/energy_efficiency/rbes guide specific to Vermont's Residential Building Energy Standards.

 

Building Permits are required for alterations & repairs where construction costs equal to or greater than $1,000

Alterations and repairs to what exisits that meet and exceed one thousand ($1000.00) dollars requires a permit or fees to be paid. “Repairs” shall be defined as patching, restoration, or painting of materials, elements, equipment or fixtures for the purpose of maintaining such materials, elements, equipment or fixtures in good or sound condition. 

 

City Building Department cannot reccommend contractors?

Recommending contractors is not a service that this department can provide because of legal and ethical considerations.  The service that we do provide through the permit process ensures that all contractors working on your property are correctly accredited in the State of Vermont and all are held to the same standards without exception.  It is suggested by this department to ask your contractor for your copy of the permit they secured before working on your project.  If they cannot deliver the permit, it is this department’s recommendation to keep them from working until one is provided.  

 

Complete and signed permit applications are required

Complete and signed permit appications are required to secure a construction permits for all projects.  The application supports what you are requesting and what DPW/ISD is permitting to who and for what that includes date and time stamp protecting your investment involved.    Our goal is to keep your project in check, on schedule for it to start on the day you have planned.

 

Construction Noise is permitted between 7 AM thru 9 PM seven days a week

The City of Burlington Code of Ordinances; Chapter 21 Section 21-13 paragraph 2 (e) declarers construction noise as Noise Disturbance within the hours of 9 PM through 7 AM, seven days a week. Construction noise is considered to be and not limited to: excavation, demolition and building construction to include alterations or repairs on any part thereof on the structure or premises. The exception to this rule has been made for emergencies.

 

Construction plans are required to support what is being permitted

Plans provided by yourself and in cases submitted by professionals need to match what is being permitted.  For smaller projects, plans should show elevation and floor plans identifying all areas and materials.  For larger projects; foundation plans, additional floor plans, cut sections, etc., are required.  Contractors & owners may submit their drawings undergoing the same reviews as professionals.  Where professionals services are secured their plans are required to have their State of VT Professional seal affixed.   For full text please refer to State of VT Statute Title 26 Professions and Occupations; Chapter 3 Architects http://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/chapter/26/003.  Chapter 20 Professional Engineering  http://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/chapter/26/020.

 

Converting attics & cellars into habitable space

Converting attics and cellars into habitable spaces requires both land use (Zoning) & Life Safety (Building) Permits.  Please contact both departments directly for the requirements on how to proceed.  A check list on life safety issues has been made available and may be secured the DPW Office on Pine Street.  DPW-Pine Customer Service (dpw-pinecustomerservice@burlingtonvt.gov)       

 

Depth of frost protection in Burlington and the State of Vermont is 5 feet

Except where otherwise protected from frost, foundations and other permanent supports of buildings  and structures shall be protected by extending below the frost line is not less than 5 ft, erect on solid rock or construct "Shallow Foundation" in accordance to the American Society of Civil Engineers Structural Engineering Institute (ASCE/SEI) standards. (2015 State of VT Fire & Building Safety Code amendment to the 2015 IBC section 1809.5)

 

Egress escape window requirements; existing & new

Buildings without sprinkler systems require emergency escape/rescue windows in all living and sleeping areas where a 2nd means leading to the outside is not available.  The window or door needs to be remotely located from the primary entrance into the room.  Respective to the State of Vermont Fire & Building Safety Code as adopted and amendment to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101:

Existing (replacement) emergency escape/rescue window requirements:  The clear opening of an existing means of escape (egress window) shall be:

1) Opening (bottom) sash for a wood, vinyl, aluminum or fiberglass framed window shall be a minimum of 24" H X  20" W (one dimension required to be greater than the other) to achieve a net clear opening equal to or greater than 5.0 square ft. 

2) Opening (bottom) sash for steel framed window shall be a minimum of 24” H x 20” W  with at least one dimension exceeded to provide a clear opening equal to or greater than 5.0 square ft. 

NOTE: Modifications to the existing rough opening to meet 5.0 is not acceptable but rather need to increase in size to accept the window size meeting 5.7 sq ft.    

New emergency egress/rescue window requirements:  shall be 5.7 ft2 of net clear with minimum measurements of 24" X H OR 20" x W to equal or greater than 821 square inches.  Divide the total sq inches (821) by 144 converts to square feet dimension or 5.7 ft2.    Net clear opening means the clear opening providing an absolute clear space to pass through without exception.  The maximum window height off finsh floor to sill shall not be more than 44 inches.

Height off grade:  Egress window sills shall be equal to or less than twenty (20) feet off grade.   Nationally recognized in the National Fire Protection Associations (NFPA) Safety Codes adopted 20 ft is the maximum safe distance for the first responders apparatus to reach those in danger and for those in danger to quickly escape.  

Exceptions: Means of escape windows are not required in building protected by automatic sprinkler systems, non-habitable spaces, i.e., bathrooms, kitchens, hallways or closets.   Habitable room shall mean approved living & sleeping.

 

Electrical & plumbing work may be done by the owner of an owner occupied single family home

In owner occupied single family homes the home owner can pull permits, perform the work and complete the inspections with the inspector.   Permits and inspections are required and all work must comply with current state and local codes and ordinances adopted.  Please contact the Burlington Electrical & Plumbing Inspector directly to confirm all requierments attached.  https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/DPW/Construction-Permits/Staff.   State of Vermont Electrical & Plumbing Licensed professionals  are required to pull permts, perform their own work and be onsite for the inspectons in all public building that includes rental single family homes. 

 

Elevator car size requirement in Burlington

Elevator car size requirements are governed by the City Fire Marshalls Office and can be found in the City of Burlington Code of Ordinances under Fire Protection & Prevention Chapter 13, section 13-61.   Please contact the City Fire Marshal Office directly ((802) 864-5577) for all information on the size of the elevator.  

 

Estimated Vs Actural Cost of Construction

The “cost of” construction includes the contractor’s profit and other costs the owner is paying for.  So the cost of construction of any project is the cost the owner is paying out of pocket for a complete project.   The “estimated” cost is merely an estimate of all costs before the project begins, an estimate to be reconciled by the actual costs that will include additional cost (i.e., change orders) accumulated over the time of the project.

 

Finding permit record activity attached to my property

Finding permit record activity attached to your property may be reached by following the 3 steps provided below,  OR  please call DPW/ISD Customer Service directly at (802) 863-9094 X 3 for their help and direction.

1) On the front page of the City Website select Property Database or https://property.burlingtonvt.gov

2) Select (street number) and select your property

3) Permit History Report 

The report is in date order and at the end of the report you will find the "Key to Permit Status".

 

Flow chart of the permitting processes may be found by using the link below

 

How do I know when or what type of inspections are required fo my project?

By way of check mark infront of the list provided below; You will find the required inspections and final document listed at the bottom left hand corner of your "Blue" Customer  (paper) Copy that inclues;    

  1. Foundation Inspection
  2. Underground inspection
  3. Rough inspection
  4. Final/Certificate of Occupancy Inspection
  5. Zoning Certificate of Occupancy
  6. Lead Safe Practices
 

How long does it take to get a building/construction permit?

Depending on the magnitude of the project, it can take less than an hour to an entire week.  Most permits remodeling and other permits less than $10K of estimated cost of construction can take only minutes a clear description of the project attached.  Please plan far enough ahead and contact the Inspection Services Division directly for more precise time frame on getting you started.  

 

HUD Mobile Homes: What permits are required for mobile homes?

For all HUD Certified Mobile Homes land use (Zoning) permits (ZP) are required but not limited to for lot coverage, change of use, and exterior changes.  Located at 149 Church Street (City Hall) you may contact them directly at ((802) 865-7188) for their directions and approvals.  Attached to the ZP requires a Building (i.e., building, plumbing/mechanical, electrical, etc.,) Permits for the support of but not limited to; foundation/slab, anchoring system, heating fuel connections, connections to the public water & electrical systems. All open permits must be closed by way of on-site approved inspections.

 

Permit Conditions & Procedural rights

Attached to all permits you will find conditions of the permit printed above the applicants signature area.  In addition and attached to all permitted projects is the Statement of Procedural Rights attached to all interested person aggrieved by the departments directive or actions.  

Permit Compliance & Conditions (NLT)

All construction done under this and any other permits issued must be in comply with the State of VT adopted Codes & Standards and Burlington’s Code of Ordinances.  Permits shall not be construed as authority to violate, cancel or set aside any of the provisions of the codes currently in affect.  Applicants must contact the department to schedule inspections of the work and obtain final project approvals.      (NLT) = Not Limited to.

Statement of Procedural Rights

Specific to the City of Burlington Code of Ordinances any owner of a building or structure or any interested person aggrieved by this department’s directive or actions respective to the BCO and codes and standards adopted by the State of VT may appeal to the Public Works Board of Appeals by requesting such appeal in writing to the Director of Public Works, 645 Pine Street, Burlington VT., within 10 days from the issuance date of any order or date determined by an inspector.   Specific requirements for an appeal can be found in BCO 8-8.

 

Permits are required to be closed

On site inspections by Inspection Services confirms compliance at different stages of the project.  Failure to close out permits is actionable by the code of ordinances moreso fosters uncertainties for future investors to tie your property sales up with financial or legal actions, (i.e., re-financing, selling, etc.).  Double check with both the Planning and Zoning Department and the Inspection Services Division to be sure that all your projects were closed out after the final inspection was held.  The permit applicant must contact the department to schedule all inspections of the work to obtain final approvals to closed your permits keeping your property records clean. 

 

Plan your inspection when you secure your permit

Inspections are driven by construction demand and the applicant of the permit must contact the department to schedule required inspections.  The best time to schedule an inspection is when the applicant secured the permit.   Please plan far enough ahead to keep you on your critical path and avoid special trips.  Our goal is to be on time and nothing more than 20 minutes late. Please provide the best phone number to reach you in the event we have to reschedule due to an emergency.  Where you have to cancel on that day of the inspection please call Customer Service directly at (802) 863-9094 X 3 and have them connect you directly with your inspector to have that conversation.

 

Seperate Permits for wiring, plumbing, building, HVAC, etc., are required

Separate Permits are required for wiring, plumbing, building, HVAC, fire alarm, sprinkler, suppression, etc., on every project. Each trade attached to that project is required to secure their own permit and each trade will pay the permit fee attached to their cost of construction amount for that portion of work.

 

State permits are not required in Burlington City limits

Supported by the State & City agreement, State Permits specific to structural or life safety (building, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, Sprinkler, Fire Alarm, Suppression, etc.,) are not required in the City of Burlington City limits, only Burlington permits supported by the City of Burlington Code of ordinances.  

 

Trade Inspectors have office hours betewwn 8 AM and 10 AM M - F.

Less holidays and weekends, the trade inspectors have office hours between 8am &10am, M-F specifically for one on one visits with the customers seeking a permit for their project.  The goal is to limit the time to 10 minutes per customer to help make it possible to serve as many customers as possible within the two hours before leaving on field inspections.  Please have your questions and plans available and if more time is needed for your project time will be scheduled outside these hours to accommodate your needs.

 

How much does a PERMIT COST?

Three fees may be applied to any one permit: the minimum and standard permit fee, a recording fee, and an after the fact (ATF) fee. With regards to all construction permits; please make checks payable to DPW/ISD. The minimum and standard permit fee: All permits have a minimum permit fee of twenty ($20.00) dollars when the project costs for labor and material* is less than two thousand three hundred fifty-four ($2354.00) dollars. A calculation of $8.50 is applied to every thousand ($1000.00) dollars of estimated cost of construction (ECC) that exceeds the minimum cost. For example; $3000.00 x .00850 = $25.50, etc., which keeps increasing as the ECC increases. The exception to this rule is with regards to single-family home projects and their recording fees listed below. Recording fees: It is required to file permits and related documents in the City land records. A fee of $10.00 will be charged for each document attached to that project at the time you secure your permit, in addition to the permit fee. Example, all construction permits that are required (building, electrical, heating, plumbing, fire alarm, sprinkler, etc.) will have the minimum permit fee and an $10.00 recording fee. However, when a project requires a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), both the Building Permit and C of O will require the $10.00 fee for a total of twenty ($20.00) dollars in addition to the permit fee. After the Fact Fee (ATF): This fee is applied when work has started without reviews, approvals, or permits. The calculation applied is one percent of the ECC, which is added back on to the original your permit fee calculation. This fee is never less then thirty ($30.00) dollars, thus, raising the permit fee on a basic single-family home project from twenty-seven ($27.00) to fifty-seven ($57.00) dollars. *Note: ECC is based on all materials and all labor cost associated to that project, regardless of who purchased any part thereof.

 

Is there a separation requirement between a garage and other living spaces?

Yes. In every situation where you have a higher hazard space beside, under, or over another space being occupied, a separation requirement by way of hours. The hour ratings are determined by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and refer to the maximum time for rescue and escape based on the building's design, material composition, air space, and fasteners. The minimum is one hour separation of private garages from living space, public garages from living space and other uses of the building, living space from different living spaces, etc.

 

What department do I contact to find out what construction PERMIT ACTIVITY has taken place or still active (issued) on my property?

Please contact the Department of Public Works Customer Service directly at (802) 863-9094

 

What permits do I need for SWIMMING POOLS?

Both in-ground and above ground pool installations & removals need a Zoning Permit (land use / lot coverage) and building permits (life safety) to include electrical & plumbing for safe install and terminations.  In-ground & above ground pool removal: remove all materials from the site and haul to approved landfill locations.  To eliminate any surprises in that area for future use, (yourself and new homeowners) backfill the hole for inground pools with clean flow able sand and cap both types of pool areas with top soil and return area back to grass. 

 

What WORK DOES NOT REQUIRE PERMITS OR FEES?

No permit or fees shall be required for carpeting, painting, installation of personal property or floor covering. However, "Flooring" does require permits and fees.

 

When I apply for permits in the City of Burlington, do I also need STATE OF VERMONT PERMITS and/or send my plans to the VT STATE FIRE MARSHAL?

NO. The City of Burlington has a long standing agreement with the State of Vermont; whereas, we (the city), handle all permitting processes, reviews, inspections and all related transactions independent from the State. Please direct all questions and send plans for review directly to this office and visit our web site at: www.burlingtonvt.gov/dpw

 

Where is the PERMIT OFFICE LOCATED?

The Inspection Services Division of the Department of Public Works issues building permits. The Public Works office is located at 645 Pine Street, at the intersection with Lakeside Avenue.

 

Will the inspectors entertain an inspection on a project/property without an OWNER OR OWNER'S REPRESENTATIVE?

For all the right reasons the inspectors requires the owner or the owners authorized representative (contractors) on site during inspections. This also streamlines the process, provides that opportunity to act on what needs to take place without additional delays to include need for re-inspections.

 

What is the minimum distance for a dumpster to be away from other combustible structures?

Ten (10) Feet.  This distance is governed in the National Fire Prevention Association Code (NFPA 1 Section 19.2.1.4) and reads as follows;  “Dumpsters & containers with an individual capacity of 1.5 cu yd’s or more shall not be stored in buildings or placed within 10 ft of combustible walls, openings or combustible roof eave lines.”