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Design Professionals and Permit Applications.


A building permit is a document issued by the local government that allows you to construct, alter, or demolish a building or structure. The permit is issued by the authority having Jurisdiction. In Westchester County, this is typically* the local government (city, town or village) in which the property is located.

The legal requirement for a building permit is quite specific and laid out in part in the Residential Code of the State of New York:
No person or entity shall commence, perform, or continue any work that must conform with the Uniform Code and/or Energy Code unless:

  1. Such person or entity has applied to the authority having jurisdiction for a building permit,

  2. The authority having jurisdiction has issued a building permit authorizing such work,

  3. Such building permit has not been revoked or suspended, and

  4. Such building permit has not expired.


Though practices vary by jurisdiction, the general process of permit application in our local communities will include the following steps:

  1. Figure out - based on your home's location - what jurisdiction (building department, say) will receive and process your application. It's always a good idea to contact the building department and discuss your plans with them as early as possible in the process.

  2. Determine the type of work you want to do: This will help you figure out whether – and what type of - permit you need to apply for.

  3. Determine whether a Site Plan may be required; Apart from an interior renovation or alteration, most projects will require a Site Plan and/or Survey.

  4. Review the Zoning Regulations: Building and Zoning are two different aspects of planning, and both need to be addressed. Zoning will specify various aspects of the allowed use, location, size, construction, and appearance* of a proposed project. Prior to the submission of an application to the Buidling Department you should have a zoning analysis. This may be performed by yourself or, more likely, your Attorney, Architect, Engineer or Surveyor. Though they vary by location – even within a municipality - zoning regulations tend to be cut and dried.

  5. Prepare the Submittal Documents, which will include the Construction Documents (Drawings and, sometimes, narrative) and other data that will compose the application. Per Section R106.1.1 of the Residential Code:

  6. Construction documents shall define the scope of the proposed work; shall be of sufficient clarity to indicate the location, nature and extent of the proposed work; shall show in detail that the proposed work will conform to the provisions of the Uniform Code, the Energy Code, and other applicable codes, laws, ordinances, and regulations; and shall include any and all additional information and documentation that may be required…

  7. Construction Documents generally need to be prepared, stamped and signed by a Design Professional.

  8. Submit the building permit application, along with relevant drawings, affidavits, a site plan, fees and any other supporting documents, to the local municipality.

  9. As noted – and again, depending on the municipality - there are many types of building permit. Some have specific applications for specific types of work, making it easier, for instance, to file for smaller projects – the Village of Rye Brook has separate forms for Exterior Building Permit and Interior Building Permit Applications.

  10. Pay the permit fee(s): There will be an application fee and, depending on the nature and size of the project, there may be a separate permit fee.

  11. The Building Inspector, or a Plan Reviewer, will thoroughly review the application to ensure that it complies with all relevant building codes and zoning regulations. In one of the first stages of review, the Building Official will do a zoning review on the proposal to determine whether or not it is compliant. If it is, the application continues.

  12. Also, and depending on its complexity, the application may be referred to additional departments (such as Engineering and Public Works) and boards (such as Architectural Review and Planning) for their review.

Several municipalities – like the Town of Yorktown - issue detailed instructions on filing requirements, separate from the application form itself to help ensure that all items are included in the application.

Some – like Dobbs Ferry - require applications to be filed electronically via the central permitting site CitySquared. This is the initial application; Subsequent to the online filing, hard copies of the submission documents must be delivered direct to the building department.

As noted, some applications require input from several boards and departments; Many of the boards are composed of volunteers; Meeting schedules vary; And, an application may need to come before a board more than one time.
The approval sequence may be carried out in a parallel manner, with applications being review simultaneously in different areas; Or, more often, in series, whereby each subsequent step cannot begin until the prior step has been completed; In any case, the entire approval process, start to finish, may take weeks, months, or even longer.

It's important to again note that the process for obtaining a building permit can vary depending on the local municipality and the type of work you want to do. You should contact the building department of your local municipality for more specific information on the process relevant to your application.

The LOCAL BUILDING DEPARTMENTS page of this site lists the municipalities of Westchester County and includes contact information for their building departments and some other useful links.

* In certain cases, the Sate, a State Agency, or other body, may be the authority having jurisdiction.

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