Commercial Buildings: Permits and Clearances

5-23_RETAIL_Permits-and-Clearences-300x200Before you break ground on that new residential garage,  retail or commercial structure, there is a vitally important step you must take.  Plan a visit to your county or city municipal office and make sure you thoroughly understand what clearances and permits you must have before building can begin, and what documents or paperwork you need to have in order to apply for them.

People occasionally think that pole barn or post-frame structures do not require such documentation because they are built so much differently from traditional brick-and-mortar buildings.  Pole barns are still permanent structures, and as such need to have the same types of paperwork in place with the administering locality (usually city or county).  This is especially true in the case of buildings that will be used in the function of business or commercial work.


Zoning regulations can vary greatly from location to location, as can the definitions used to determine what is commercial property, what is residential, and what is mixed-use.  Be prepared to document what activity will be going on in the structure you plan to build.  If you find that the lot on which you planned to build that storefront lies just over the line into a residential zone, for example, you could possibly petition the municipality for a rezoning or “up zoning” for your property, but this would entail demonstrating that the business you conduct would not adversely affect homeowners in the area, as well as gaining the necessary support to have your local zoning board consider the petition.

It’s a good idea to become familiar with the zoning regulations and existing areas in your locality, and if possible, choose to build on a lot that is already correctly zoned. You will save yourself a great deal of time and hassle!


Just because the local zoning board has given your building the go-ahead doesn’t mean you’re ready to go grab a shovel and start digging post holes.  Your local municipality will also almost certainly require that you have a building permit on file.  These permits are the means by which local building codes are enforced, and also allow the local governing bodies to measure growth in the area.

The process for applying for building permit also varies depending on local regulations, but generally you can expect to be asked to provide very detailed professional drawings of your proposed building.  These can often be obtained through your builder or general contractor.


Depending on the type of business you’re in, other permits or paperwork may also be required by your local municipality.  Again, it is very much worth the time it takes to make a few phone calls or visit the local municipal office and find out precisely what is required in your situation.

A good builder will also be able to help you navigate the local legalese, as they work within these regulations every day.

If you’re getting ready to build and are unsure about the clearances and permits you may need or how to go about applying for them, talk with the experts at Conestoga Buildings.  They can steer you through the process and make your building experience a positive one. Contact us today to get started!

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