1. When is a permit required?
Generally, building permits are required to erect, alter, enlarge or demolish a structure. Permits are required for work including, but not limited to, new construction, remodeling, repair (other than minor, normal maintenance repairs), re-roofing, and vinyl siding and fence installation. When applicable, separate permits for electrical, plumbing and mechanical work are also required. In addition, any project must also comply with the Zoning Ordinance.
2. Where do I apply for a building permit?
Apply, in person, at the Building Services Division, second floor of the Public Works Building; 1201 Sixth Street SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404. Office hours are from 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM.
3. How long does it take to get a permit?
It varies depending upon the type of construction, complexity of the project, and completeness of documents submitted with the application. For simple residential work, such as construction of decks, porches or detached garages, re-roofing and installation of vinyl siding, permits usually are issued over-the-counter. Commercial projects may take up to several weeks to review.
4. What is the cost of a building permit?
Building permit fees are generally based on the total cost of construction and are shown in the Building Permit Fee Table. Exceptions to this are permits for construction of fences, swimming pools, and retaining walls ($25.00 each) and handicap ramps ($10.00 each).
5. What kind of information is needed to obtain a building permit?
A description of the work to be covered by the permit and the use of the structure.
A site plan identifying existing structures and the location of the proposed work and their dimensions to property lines; streets and alleys; and easements (if known). NOTE: a site plan is not required for siding, re-roofing, window replacement or interior remodeling permits unless there is a change of use involved.
Plans, diagrams and specifications as required depending upon the scope and complexity of the project. For residential projects, two (2) copies of plans are needed; for commercial projects, three (3) copies. NOTE: An Iowa architect's or engineer's seal is required on plans for certain commercial projects.
The valuation of the construction work to be covered by the permit.
6. Can I walk my commercial plans through the process?
No. Commercial plan review involves review by a number of other City departments such as Development, Engineering, Traffic Engineering, and Fire. Plans are reviewed in the order in which they were received.
7. When can I see or talk to an inspector?
The inspectors have set aside certain office hours, 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM and Noon - 1:00 PM, specifically to return phone calls and visit with customers that come into the office. These hours were established to answer any questions you may have in order to keep your project moving.
8. Is a separate permit needed for mechanical,electrical and plumbing?
Yes. Each trade hired to complete a project must be permitted separately; identifying the work being performed and the contractor doing the work. Each mechanical, electrical or plumbing contractor must hold and employ persons licensed with the State of Iowa or qualify for the owner-occupant exemption and will secure its own permit. Each permit fee will be based on the scope of work for that trade.
9. Can I do my own plumbing, mechanical or electrical work?
It depends. Generally, plumbing, mechanical and electrical contractor licenses are required to obtain a permit and perform work in Cedar Rapids. However,home owners may perform work on the owner’s principal residence, if such residence is an existing dwelling rather than new construction and is not larger than a single family dwelling. The homeowner shall also qualify for homestead tax exemption and must pass a standard examination, administered by the City of Cedar Rapids Building Services Division. This will allow homeowners to perform electrical work; however no test is required for plumbing and mechanical work. The homeowner must also obtain a permit and the work must comply with all applicable codes.
10. Is a permit required to re-roof my house, and how many layers of roofing can I have?
Yes, a permit is required. A maximum of two layers of shingles may be on a roof. If there are already two layers on the roof, then they must be torn off before a new layer can be put on.
11. How is my work inspected?
Inspectors will check to make sure that work is done according to code. Permit holders must call to arrange for each inspection and prior to covering or concealing the work. In most cases, inspections will be performed within one workday of the request. Call (319) 286-5831 to arrange for an inspection.
12. When does a permit expire?
Permits expire 12 months after issue date. However, permits may be renewed upon payment of the renewal fee provided that no changes have been made to the original scope of the work.
13. Do I need to final permits issued for my project?
Yes. Finaling of permits has always been required as part of the permit process. Failure to request a final inspection on a permit will result in an additional charge and will hold up issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the property.
14. What is the penalty for failing to obtain the proper permit?
Failure to obtain a required permit may result in an investigation fee added to the cost of the permit and may also result in the issuance of a municipal infraction. The fine attached to such an infraction can be up to $500 daily.
15. How do I know if I'm dealing with a reputable contractor?
If the contractor is performing electrical, plumbing or mechanical work, are they licensed? Cedar Rapids requires that these contractors be licensed in order to obtain a permit.
16. Do they have insurance?
In most cases, State law requires that contractors carry workers compensation insurance. Ask to see a certificate of insurance.
Ask for at least two references of prior work done-and check them out.
Make sure all agreements are in writing.
Do not pay an excessive front-end deposit.
Make absolutely sure that they obtain the required permits and call for and pass the required codes inspection. The contractor should be the one to purchase the permit. Do not offer to purchase the permit for the contractor.