Checklist of Potential Permits and Supporting Documents

Here is a detailed list of the kind of permits that might be required by the building department in your community. When one of these permits is required, it usually needs to be obtained before you can apply for the main building permit.

  • State and local environmental-commission’s approval: This is particularly important if the property contains wetlands or protected dunes in coastal areas
  • Tree-removal permit: If the land is on a state road, federal highway, or designated a scenic route, you might need permission from a regulatory agency
  • Utility permit for temporarily taking down high-voltage power lines
  • Demolition permit: May be required to demolish any existing structures, and another permit may be required to dispose of the materials
  • Hazardous waste permit: Required to dispose of hazardous materials
  • Well permit: if a septic system is needed, its design might need to be approved before a well permit is issued
  • Potable water test: the well water might need to pass a safety test before a building permit is issued
  • Municipal-water entrance permit: This can be as costly as drilling a well, and the fee does not include the cost for digging the trench or installing the underground pipe
  • Septic design approval: having the design completed by a licensed sanitarian or engineer and approved by the local board of health can sometimes take several weeks
  • Municipal-sewer entrance permit: This can be as costly as a septic system, and the fee does not include the cost for digging the trench or installing the underground pipe
  • Driveway curb-cut permit: In most areas this is routine, as long as safety is not an issue, but if the land is on a state road or a designated scenic route, you might need to apply to another agency
  • Street-excavation permit: If the road must be excavated to bring public utilities to the site, permission must be obtained from the town or state, depending on who is responsible for maintaining the road
  • Traffic-safety permit: If the road must be excavated or if traffic will be obstructed, the town or state may require special signage or a police officer to maintain traffic control
  • Fire-marshal approval: Required for smoke detectors, oil furnaces, fireplaces, and woodstoves
  • Building permit for additional structures: Required for all structures that will be built on site, such as a garage, porch, deck, mudroom, or finished attic
  • Structural engineering design and plan: May be required when an {I}-beam is being used in the basement to support the home instead of lally columns
  • Oil permit: May be required when installing oil heat, along with a final inspection to obtain a certificate of occupancy
  • Gas permit: Required when natural or propane gas will be used for the heating system, an appliance, or a fireplace
  • Fuel-storage permit: Required when the heating system requires oil or gas storage

As soon as you’ve decided to build, you, or better yet your modular general contractor, should determine which of these supporting permits are needed in addition to the main building permit. You should also determine what actions will be needed and how much lead time will be required for each permit, and then act accordingly.

Also be sure you know who is paying for each of the permits and fees required to build your home. The cost for permits, utility fees, engineering and survey work, and related items varies widely from town to town, utility company to utility company, and engineer to engineer. For example, a building permit can range in price from a hundred to a few thousand dollars, and utility hookups can range from no cost to several thousand dollars. Since you are ultimately responsible for the costs, whether you pay for them directly or through your modular general contractor, determine the amounts for each item as soon as possible, budget accordingly, and agree in writing with your modular general contractor which of you will be making the payments.

For more information about your building permit and all additional permits and fees that might be required to build your modular home,  see The General Contractor’s Responsibilities for Building a Modular Home and Building a Modular Home on Schedule in my book The Modular Home.