The Permit Process

by J Scott on April 28, 2014

We’re quickly approaching when we should be submitting for all of our permits, so I wanted to spend a post discussing what that process is like, as it can get a bit confusing. While every jurisdiction is different, this is the way things work in my county (Howard County, MD)…

Ultimately, three permits will be needed in order to start the demolition and construction process:

  1. DEMO PERMIT: The demo permit is the permit needed to take the existing structure down. This is by-far the easiest permit to get from the county — all that’s required are letters from various departments and utility companies indicating that the house is safe to be knocked down, and then pay a small fee. Now, it takes time to get through this process, as the electric company is required to disconnect power and take down the electric lines, the water company needs to disconnect service and remove the water meter, the phone company needs to remove the phone lines, etc. So, the whole process will take a couple weeks. But once we have all the approval letters in hand, we should be able to get the demo permit in about 30 minutes for less than $100.

  2. GRADING PERMIT: The grading permit is permission to take a bulldozer or backhoe to the property to regrade for construction. While you’d think this should be easy to attain, this is what we’ve spent the past 8 months working through by having our engineer complete our Environmental Concept Plan (ECP) and Site Development Plan (SDP). These plans detail everything related to the new grading, including how rain-water will be handled, how utilities will be dealt with, how trees will be protected, how sediment control will be completed, etc. Once we have all our ECP and SDP approval, we submit our grading permit and it should take about 2 weeks for permit issuance. The fees will likely be in the $1000-2000 range.

  3. BUILDING PERMIT: The building permit is our approval to rebuild the new house. While there will be other permits associated with the build that our contractors will have to pull (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc), the building permit is approval to install the foundation and erect the structure. The permit reviewer(s) will go through our architectural plans with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that they meet engineering, safety and code compliance. The entire review process will likely be 3-4 weeks, and the fees are pretty steep in this county — I’m expecting $8,000-10,000 to get our building permit.

We will submit for the grading and building permits at the same time (as soon as we have all our disconnect letters and the ECP/SDP have been formally approved), and the demo permit we can get same-day, so that we can do anytime. Overall, we expect the entire process to cost $10,000-14,000. I’m budgeting $12,000 for now, but that could end up higher…

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