Building Permits Understanding
First of all, differing regions of the USA use one of three different building code standards. Here in Florida we use the SBCCI standard. Your region could use one of the other two standards. The examples described here will reflect the SBCCI standard. When you first visit the permit office, the office will provide you with a permit application package, which contains forms for the application of all the required permits for your home construction.
If you live in an area that has no permit system, then you may want to visit your local library and look up Florida’s on-line SBCCI empirical block design rules, such that your project is constructed in a safe manner and meets structural standards. These standards support stick-structures, mortared-block structures, dry stacked concrete block structures and concrete structures.
Meeting with the Inspector
When you submit your building permit application, they expect certain plans to be included as specified in the permit application package they provided to you. This is where the rub comes. You can take a shot in the dark and just submit your application, or you can arrange a meeting with the inspector to discuss your project plans. At this meeting is when you want to ask semi-intelligent questions about your proposed plans and how they will be accepted. For example, you might briefly describe your intention to use the dry stacked block construction method. Because dry-stacking is not yet popular, your building permit office may not be familiar with the process. They will certainly know about it because it is in the building code, but they may have no direct experience with it. Fortunately the code treats building with dry-stacked blocks about the same as building with mortared blocks.
Additional valuable information on this topic is in the Book and we also have a “Permit Office Guide v3” PDF document that supplements the Book and expands on details. This Building Permit Guide PDF is treated separately so as to be available to all builders, regardless of building construction materials chosen.