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Approvals Required Prior to Construction

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Approvals Required

Most communities have an approval process that must be completed prior to starting construction of a new home.  Types of approvals include building permit, water tie-in, sewer permit, Architectural Review Board…etc.  This process varies in complexity depending on the local municipality’s requirements.  But aren’t the approvals standardized across the country?  Unfortunately no, as each local city government decides what should be required for their area.  Let’s take a look at some of the more common approvals required across the U.S. and give a brief description of each.

Homeowner’s Association

The homeowner’s association, also called an HOA, is made up of the owners that live in a planned community.  The idea behind this group is to protect the interests of the community as a whole by keeping a budget for maintenance and improvements and requiring individual homeowners to abide by certain rules.

Most homeowner’s associations want to see the plans for any substantial improvements prior to going in for a building permit.  This will save you some time in case they request changes to be made.  If you apply for the building permit first and the HOA later requires changes, you will have to go back in and resubmit for the permit with the new changes shown.

Some typical HOA requirements include…

  • Minimum square footage of the home
  • Garage size and types (i.e. front load, side load or courtyard)
  • Exterior materials
  • House plan type (ranch, two story,…etc.)

Architectural Review Board

Some communities have what is called an Architectural Review Board, or ARB.  This group is typically made up of people from the community and in many cases includes an architect(s).  This group could be formed for the entire municipality or just for a single small planned unit development.

In my experience as a builder, the architectural review board is most concerned about the look of the community.  So in many cases, the big emphasis is on the exterior details of the house plans.  Some items I have dealt with in the past include paint color, types of materials (i.e. siding, roof,…etc.), or window sizes and placement.

Sewer Permit

If the new home will be connected to the city sewer system, there is typically a permit required.  This permit discusses the size of the pipe connection, the location, the size of home being connected, and details out quality requirements for the tie-in.  Most municipalities include inspection fees into this permit so the local plumbing inspector can verify that all quality standards have been met prior to backfill of the trench.

If you plan on installing a septic system instead, you will have a similar type of permit for it that will also include a drawing showing the drain field location along with the specifics of the type of system being installed.

Water Tie-in Permit

In some cases this is done at the same time as the sewer permit.  Basically the water tie-in covers similar items as the sewer permit.  Only this time it covers the connection to the city water system.  The permit will cover things like pipe sizing, type, location, water meter…etc.

Building Permit

Before getting too far along in the house planning stage, it’s a good idea to stop down to the local building department to get information on obtaining a building permit.  Most municipalities will have a packet that describes what is required to obtain the permit, including prior approvals, fees, plans, drawings…etc.

It’s extremely important to follow these rules.  The local building department is there to help you and the easier you can make their jobs, the more smoothly your project will go.

These are just a few of the more common approvals required prior to starting construction on a new home.  Some other potential requirements include archaeological study, engineered plot plan and boundary survey, and storm water management plan among others.

 

Michael Luckado

Michael Luckado has built, remodeled, and repaired thousands of homes across the U.S. He co-founded ArmchairBuilder.com to help people save money and time creating their dream home.

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