Residential Construction

Information on applying for a building permit for residential construction.

Overview

In April, 1999, the City Building Division implemented a full scale effort to streamline the building permit process with the creation of the Business Assistance Center (BAC) Project Steward Program, a more comprehensive Preliminary Project Review process, and the One-Stop-Shop for Permits. Our goal is to significantly increase the number of same-day permits and reduce the time frame for reviewing, approving, and issuing other building permits to between 3-5 working days after the building permit application has been made. Presently, same-day permits make up about 84% of all building permits issued. The focal point of the new streamlined permit process is the One-Stop-Shop for Permits which operates out of the Building Division - Permit Section, Room 425, City Hall. The key components of the One-Stop-Shop are:

  • central location (front door) to process all same-day building permits as well as all routed permits;  
  • direct link to the Business Assistance Center Project Steward Program where Business Assistance Specialists coordinate preliminary project review meetings and assist with expedited permit issuance;
  • professional staff assigned to review projects in historic districts and special redevelopment areas;
  • registered design professionals to review all building permit applications and documents, and approve all Same-Day Permits.

Preparation

How do I know if I need a permit?

A building permit is required when any structural change or major alteration is made to an existing building or when any new construction is undertaken. Normal building maintenance does not require a building permit in most instances. Separate permits for plumbing, mechanical and electrical work are also required when applicable.  

Some examples of work that generally do not require permits:  

  • Ordinary repairs to residential buildings and structures up to four (4) units;  
  • tuckpointing, plaster patching, exterior and interior painting, floor sanding and refinishing, floor tile, carpeting, replacement of flooring with like materials, wall paper, cabinet installation;  
  • repair or replacement of gutters and downspouts;  
  • applications of pre-finished aluminum, steel or vinyl on soffits, fascia boards, rake boards and overhangs;  
  • replacement or repair of existing windows and frames, whenever no modification is made to the opening; installation of storm windows and doors, glazing and glass replacement;  
  • replacement or repair of exterior doors and non-fire rated interior doors whenever no modification is made to the opening;  
  • sidewalks and driveways within property lines provided the surface drainage water does not adversely effect the adjacent property or create a nuisance;  
  • exterior stairs and/or steps which are on grade and not attached to the structure and within property lines;  
  • paved areas for residential use on the same lot as the primary structure, without roof, covers or enclosures;  
  • site work, landscaping, excavation of fill creating a permanent change in property elevation less than 6" along property lines;  
  • fixed or retractable awnings that do not project over property lines and not 40 square feet in projected area;  
  • wall paneling applied directly to wall surfaces; acoustical ceiling tile applied directly to ceiling surfaces;  
  • installation of battery-operated smoke detectors;  
  • small accessory buildings 50 square feet in area or less, provided such accessory buildings maintain setbacks required by the Zoning Ordinance;  
  • above-ground swimming pools and in-ground swimming pools less than 24" water depth with a surface area of less than 250 square feet;  
  • roof replacement when done with like material and replacement of 25% or less of the roof sheathing; new aluminum, steel or vinyl exterior siding with no change to existing openings;  
  • replacement of existing fencing, same height, material and location in the rear or side yards;  
  • retaining walls 18" or less in height;  
  • non-dish radio or television antennae 12 feet or less in height; tents smaller than 1,000 square feet; 
  • statues on private property. 

However property located within a City Historic District or is a City Landmark requires approval of exterior painting, gutters and downspouts, windows, doors, tuckpointing, all fences, awning and canopies and similar exterior work. In most instances a building permit is required by the Cultural Resources Office even though it is not required by the Building Code. This is done to protect the exterior appearance of the building. Copies of design standards for the 14 historic districts or 112 landmarks can be obtained by contacting the Cultural Resources Office at (314) 622-3400 or from the Register's Office in City Hall.  

Some examples of work that do require a building permit:  

  • New structures of any description, including main buildings, garages, carports, room additions and/or extensions or enlargement of existing rooms;  
  • accessory buildings over 50 square feet; 
  • porches, decks, and retaining walls; 
  • any work which involves the installation, removal or cutting of any structural beams, joist replacement or bearing support;  
  • foundations and footing repair and/or replacement, underpinning or shoring of structure; 
  • any work that changes the class of construction of the building;  
  • the conversion of basement or below-grade space to living quarters, conversion of attic space to living quarters; 
  • the removal or installation of any partition in a habitable or occupiable space;  
  • swimming pools more than 24 inches deep or more than 30 inches wall height and with a surface area of 250 square feet or more;  
  • involve structural work and/or supports and all pools that have a permanently equipped water circulating system;  
  • the installation of pre-cast stone also requires a permit;  
  • all new fences of any type, except the replacement of existing fencing, of the same height, material and location in the rear or side yard;  
  • an entire new roof, when roof work is not replacement of like material, and/or when more than 25% of the roof sheathing is removed and replaced.  

For all construction projects in an area designed as a flood area per the FEMA Floodway or FIRM maps, a Floodway Development Permit must be issued even though a building permit may not be required by the Building Code.  

Most smaller projects do not require plans prepared by a design professional. A simple drawing will suffice. If, however, there has been a fire or if the building has been condemned the plans must be sealed by a registered architect or licensed engineer.  

Residential Construction Guidelines may be reviewed here.  

If you still have questions, please call the Permit Office at 622-3313. There is a design professional available to answer your questions.  

Instructions

Please bring 5 sets of plans/ drawings to the Permit Office. Pictures are also required if the property is located in a local historic district. A design professional will decide whether or not the application may be approved the same day or routed.  

Applications residential projects with a project cost of less than $80,000 are reviewed by an architect or engineer from the staff of the Plan Exam section at the "hot spot". The plan examiner will review the applicant's plans and approve or make changes. Once approved, the applicant will meet with a customer service representative who will process the permit application.  

Projects with a project cost in excess of $80,000 or a project that merits review by other city departments will be routed. The application fee of $25.00 will be paid and the application will be routed to necessary city departments. Depending on the type of project, these may include:

  • Cultural Resources  
  • Zoning  
  • 353/99/100 redevelopment areas  

The plan examiner has the discretion to route any plans brought in for application

Fees

Fees are based on total estimated project cost and are calculated as follows:  

fees based on total estimated project cost.  
Estimated Construction Cost   Application Fee   Permit Fee   Total Fee  
$0 - $1,000.00   $25.00   $19.00   $44.00  
$1,001- $2,000.00   $25.00   $23.00   $48.00  
$2,001 - $3,000.00   $25.00   $30.00   $52.00  
Over $3,000.00
estimated construction cost
or fraction thereof  
$25.00   $10.00
per thousand estimated construction cost or fraction thereof 

All fees paid to the City of St. Louis for building permits are non-refundable. Only the application fee is payable at the time the building permit application is filed. The permit fee will be required when final approvals have been received and the building permit is ready to be issued by the Building Division - Permit Section. The application fee and the permit fee may be paid for by cash, check or money order only and made payable to the City of St. Louis.  

What to Expect

Generally, most building permits which cannot be issued as Same-Day Permits are reviewed, approved, and issued within 10-15 working days. However, if the project requires Cultural Resources Office and/or SLDC-LCRA approval, it may be somewhat longer. Most projects, however, can be processed in a much shorter time.  

Once a building permit has been obtained from the Building Division - Permit Section, there are certain responsibilities placed on the Owner and/or Contractor.  

OWNER:
All building permits are issued in the name of the Owner.  

Must post the building permit on the project job site during the entire time of construction.  

BUILDING OWNER AND/OR CONTRACTOR:
Must inform the Building Division - Inspection Section twenty-four (24) hours before starting construction work.  

Must call after excavation for the structure is complete and trenches for footings, column pads, piers, spread footings, or other types of footings are ready for concrete. No concrete shall be poured without a soil inspection.  

Must call when the foundation forms and reinforcing steel are set in place and before concrete is poured.  

Must call after all framing members and plumbing, mechanical, and electrical rough-ins are in place and before being covered with lath and plaster, drywall, paneling, etc.  

Must call at the completion of all work covered by the building permit and prior to use of occupancy  

Additional Information

No one package of information will be able to address every construction project, the specific needs of the owner or design professional, or the building code requirements for issuance of building permits. The best advice the Building Division can offer is to meet with the plan examiner early in the project to review the requirements for you project. For complex projects, several review meetings may be necessary. The Building Division is as interested in the project proceeding as smoothly and quickly as possible through the permit process as you are.

Contact

Permit Section

(314) 622-3313

1200 Market
Room 425
St. Louis, Mo 63103

Monday - Friday 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Hot Spot Desk 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Contact the Permit Section

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