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PLI: RESIDENTIAL PERMITS

Residential Permits

Standard Permit Application Requirements

A permit will not be issued to a licensed contractor if the insurance on file expires within 30 days.

Things to Know:

  • Drawings must be specific for the permit.
  • Mechanical, Electrical, Fire Alarm, and Sprinkler System drawings will not be accepted with a building permit submission.
  • Separate applications must be made for each permit type, and the required drawings must accompany each application.
  • See this Bulletin for additional information regarding standard application requirements.

If project scope has been modified after a permit has been issued, an amended permit may be required. Please refer to the Amended Permit Bulletin for an outline of that process.

Construction, Engineering and Permitting

Under PLI's permitting role, it coordinates closely with both the Department of City Planning and the Department of Public Works. A majority of the permits issued by PLI start in the Zoning Department which is part of City Planning. Our permit applications are separated into Commercial permits and Residential Permits.

The first step in the building permitting process is to determine the zoning classification for the parcel under consideration. This process starts at the Zoning counter located down the hall: 3rd floor of 200 Ross St.

Use the navigation menu on the left of this screen to identify the type of Commercial or Residential permit you need.

PLI regulates permits to:

  • Renovate and repair existing buildings or structures
  • Construct additions to existing buildings or structures
  • Construct new buildings or structures
  • Demolish entire or portions of existing buildings or structures
  • Legally occupy existing or new buildings or structures

Code Interpretations

Please refer to our Bulletin Page for a list of ode interpretations in response to common code questions.

Residential Building Permit

Residential Building Permits

Residential Building Permits are required for all work performed on single or two-family dwellings. Work performed on all other buildings require Commercial Building Permits, this includes multifamily buildings with three or more units and mixed-use buildings with residential units and commercial spaces. Please refer to list of work not requiring a building permit, if work to be performed is not included on this list, a building permit is required. Please note that a building permit is required for interior demolition of single or two-family dwellings.

Work Performed Under Residential Building Permit

A property owner who also uses the property as a primary residence may self perform the work for a Residential Building Permit, except for new houses. A City of Pittsburgh registered General Contractor is required for the following:

  • Construction of a new house.
  • Renovations and/or additions to rental or investment property.
  • Renovations and/or additions to rental or investment property.

All other work shall be performed a by PA licensed contractor.

How to Obtain a Residential Building Permit

The Building Permit application process is two-fold. The first component is review and approval by the Zoning Department for the land use as regulated by the Zoning Code.

The second component is review and approval by PLI for life safety as regulated by the current Building Codes. Fees for both departments are paid at the point of issuance, at PLI.

Zoning Review

The property owner, or authorized agent, will need to first apply in person at the Zoning Counter located at 200 Ross Street, 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. After the work is approved by the Zoning Department, the applicant will proceed to the File Room and then then PLI's Engineering Counter, both located on the 3rd floor of 200 Ross St.

PLI Review

For the PLI review, the following will be required:

  • All new houses, two story additions, two story decks, retaining walls over 4'-0" or structural modifications will require stamped drawings prepared and sealed by a Pennsylvania licensed Architect/Engineer.
  • Completed Residential Building Permit Form.
  • A check/money order to pay the permit fee, due when permit is issued.

Residential building permit applications not requiring stamped drawings are reviewed over the counter. All others are logged in and reviewed in the order in which they were reviewed. After

the Plans Examining Engineer has reviewed the drawing, they will contact the Architect/Engineer with any revisions or notify the applicant that the permit is ready for pick up.

Inspection

After the permit has been issued, the applicant or General Contractor must contact the Building Inspector, whom is indicated on the permit, to schedule inspections. Inspectors are in the office from 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m., Monday through Friday, and are in the field for the remainder of the day.

The following building inspections will be required:

  • Framing
  • Final

The following additional inspections may be required, depending on the scope of work:

  • Flood plain
  • Footing and foundation
  • Fire-resistance-rated construction
  • Masonry

Residential Deck Information

Decks NOT Requiring a Building Permit

Uncovered deck where the floor of the deck is no more than 30" (762 mm) above grade. Note: Will require Zoning Approval and an Occupancy Permit.

Decks Requiring a Building Permit

For all other decks, a Building Permit and Occupancy Permit will be required. A completed Residential Deck Application shall be submitted with these applications, and can substitute the standard Residential Building Permit Application.

Decks can be designed under two options:

NOTE: Any decks other than single story wood decks 8 feet or less in height measured from finish grade to finished deck surface shall require submittal of construction drawings.

Resource

The American Wood Council's "Design for Code Acceptance #6 - Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide" is a valuable resource that can be used to show code compliance for residential wooden decks. This guide includes tables for sizing all structural elements including footings. The sizing for wood members are based on exposure to exterior conditions and weather treatment of certain wood species, both of which reduce structural capacity.

NOTE: This guide requires a minimum post size of 6 x 6. All Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections fees change annually. Consult the Current Fee Schedule below.

2017 Fee Schedule

The permit and license fees for the Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections undergo periodic adjustments.

Please consult the current year Fee Schedule.

2017 Fee Schedule

Note once a permit or license has been issued, refunds are not provided.

Residential HVAC Permit

Residential HVAC permits are required to perform HVAC work for single or two-family dwellings.

Work performed All other buildings require Commercial HVAC permits, this includes multifamily buildings with three or more residential units, or mixed-use buildings with residential units and commercial spaces. Please refer to list of work not requiring an HVAC permit, if work to be performed is not included on this list, an HVAC permit is required before work begins.

All work under a Residential HVAC permit must be performed by an HVAC contractor registered with the City of Pittsburgh.

How to Obtain a Residential HVAC Permit

Items Required:

  • Residential HVAC Application completed and signed by the registered HVAC Contractor with their original signature in ink.
    • Please note, incomplete applications or those with photocopied or stamped signatures will be returned without processing.
  • Generally, drawings prepared and sealed by PA licensed Engineer/Architect are not required.
    • If they are, two sets will need to be submitted.
  • If work is related to a building permit, a copy of the approved building permit.
  • Occupancy Permit for all exterior equipment, such as condenser units, fan coil units, or similar mechanical devices.
    • This includes existing units, if there is no valid Certificate of Occupancy. In this instance, a separate check or money order is required for the Zoning filing fee.
  • A check or money order for the permit fee:

2017 Fee Schedule

The permit and license fees for the Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections undergo periodic adjustments.

Please consult the current year Fee Schedule.

2017 Fee Schedule

Note once a permit or license has been issued, refunds are not provided.

How to Apply:

  1. Apply in person at the Zoning Counter, located at 200 Ross St on the 3rd floor for an Occupancy Permit, if required (see above).
  2. Submit the completed application and check/money order to the Electrical Counter at 200 Ross St, 3rd floor or mail them to:
        City of Pittsburgh
        Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections-Electrical Division
        200 Ross St., Rm. 320
        Pittsburgh, PA 15219
  3. Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections staff reviews and processes the application. All HVAC permits are logged into our queue and processed in the order in which they are received. Once issued, the permit will be mailed to the registered HVAC Contractor.

Inspection

The assigned HVAC Inspector and their phone number will be printed on the permit. It is the responsibility of the permit holder to arrange for all required inspections by contacting the HVAC Inspector. Inspectors are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m., and are in the field for the remainder of the day.

Required inspections include:

  • Underground (if applicable).
  • A rough-in inspection before any work is concealed.
  • A final inspection when all work is complete.

Residential Occupancy Permit

What is a Certificate of Occupancy?

A Certificate of Occupancy is required to legally use and occupy a building or structure (or portion thereof), except for existing single family dwellings. When a Certificate of Occupancy is issued, it certifies that the building/structure or portion thereof conforms with the Zoning Code and the applicable Building Codes enforced at the time the Certificate is issued.

An Occupancy Permit is required for:

  • New buildings/structures.
  • Additions to existing buildings/structures, this includes vertical additions, or other modifications to the building volume, such as dormers.
  • Two family dwellings.
  • Exterior accessory equipment/structures, such as fences, decks, sheds, condensing units, and generators.
  • Other elements, such as parking pads, as required by the Zoning Code.

Please be aware that a Building Permit may also be required, please refer to Work Not Requiring a Building Permit.

Please call the File Room at 412-255-2175 to verify whether or not a property has a Certificate of Occupancy on file.

In order for the City of Pittsburgh to issue a new Certificate of Occupancy, conformance must be shown per current codes.

If a new Certificate of Occupancy is required/desired, an Occupancy Permit must first be obtained before the new Certificate can issued.

How to Obtain an Occupancy Permit

The Occupancy Permit application process is two-fold. The first component is review and approval by the Zoning Department for the land use as regulated by the Zoning Code. The second component is review and approval by PLI for life safety as regulated by the current Building Codes.

Zoning Review

Apply in person at the Zoning Counter, located at 200 Ross St on the 3rd floor for an Occupancy Permit. A separate check or money order for the Zoning filing fee. After the work is approved by the Zoning Department, the applicant will proceed to the File Room and then then PLI's Engineering Counter, both located on the 3rd floor of 200 Ross St.

PLI Review

For the PLI review, the following will be required:

  • Completed Application Form.
  • Separate check/money order for the permit fee, due when the Occupancy Permit is issued.
  • If a Building Permit is also required, drawings prepared and sealed by a Pennsylvania licensed Architect/Engineer may be required.
  • For two-family dwellings, drawings prepared and sealed by a Pennsylvania licensed Architect/Engineer may be required.

Generally, Occupancy Permits not requiring a Building Permit are reviewed over the counter. If a Building Permit is also required, and drawings are submitted/required, these drawings will either be reviewed over the counter or logged into our Plan Review Queue.

After the permit has been approved, the final application step will be payment processing and permit issuance at the Cashier's Counter located across from the Engineering Counter.

Inspection

After the permit has been issued, the applicant must contact the Building Inspector indicated on the permit to schedule an Inspection. Inspectors are in the office from 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m., Monday through Friday, and are in the field for the remainder of the day.

Until the Building Inspector signs off on the Occupancy Permit, a Certificate of Occupancy will not be issued.

Certificate of Occupancy Issuance

After the Building Inspector has signed off on the Occupancy Permit, the application goes through a final review within PLI before it is issued. The Certificate of Occupancy will be mailed out to the Property Owner, unless the applicant elects to pick it up in person.

Residential Electrical Permit

What is a Residential Electrical Permit?

Residential electrical permits are required for electrical work performed for structures that are only a single or two-family dwellings. See this link for work not requiring a permit.

How to Obtain a Residential Electrical Permit

Third Party Agency Information

Currently Inspections for Residential Electrical Permits must be performed by an Approved Third Party Agency.

Fees

A 15% discount shall be assessed to all residential electrical permits for TPA Inspections. Please refer to our current fee schedule.

Private Demolition

When You Need a Demolition Permit

A Demolition Permit must be obtained prior to the removal or total demolition of any building, structure, or part thereof.

For interior demolition only, please see the requirements for Residential or Commercial Building Permits.

How to Get a Demolition Permit

Work shall be performed by a City of Pittsburgh registered General Contractor. Accessory structures associated with one or two family dwellings can be demolished by the property owner if the property serves as their primary residence.

Application

1) Submit completed Private Demolition Application in person at PLI Engineering Counter at 200 Ross Street, 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. The application includes demolition specifications and affidavit that the application has notified adjoining and affected property owners of the intent to demolish.

  • Please see Checklist for additional required documentation for application. Please note some documents may be identified by PLI at time of application.

2) Demolition of structures located in a City Historic District or City designated historic structures requires the approval of the Department of City Planning’s Historic Review Commission (HRC).

  • A Certificate of Appropriateness (issued by the HRC) will be required to be submitted to PLI before the Demolition application will be completed.

3) Demolition of structures located Downtown or in a Planned Development Area requires the approval of the Department of City Planning’s Planning Commission.

  • The Planning Commission’s written decision will be required to be submitted to PLI before the Demolition application will be completed.

4) A “Notice of Intent to Demolish” placard will be provided by PLI. The applicant must post this placard on the front of the structure.

5) The 15 day waiting period begins.

PLI Review

All documents identified as required on the Demo Checklist for permit review will need to be submitted in order for the application to be entered into the queue for review. All applications are logged into our queue and reviewed based in the order in which they are received. Additional documents may be requested, depending on characteristics of particular structure to be demolished.

After the Plans Examining Engineer has reviewed the application, they will notify the applicant of any revisions or of permit approval.

Permit Issuance

After the permit has been approved and the 15 day waiting period is complete, the following will be required in order to issue the permit:

  • Any documents identified in Approval Notification.
  • Submission of all required documents, as noted on Demo Checklist by PLI.
  • Up to date General Contractor's registration (BL#).
  • A check/money order to pay the permit fee, made payable to “Treasurer, City of Pittsburgh”.

Demolition work cannot begin until the permit is issued. A copy of the permit must be kept on site. Please be aware it is the responsibility of the applicant to arrange for the termination of all utility services.

Regulations

The following regulations apply to the demolition of structures in the City of Pittsburgh. Be aware that this is a partial list and that other federal, state, and local regulations may apply.

  • The applicant and/or owner is responsible for exterminating rodents and other pests, see below for more information.
  • During the course of demolition and removal, the public right-of-way (sidewalks, adjoining walkways, streets & alleys) must be kept clear of debris and materials at all times. Citations will be issued for violation of this provision.
  • Prior to the use or obstruction of any public right-of-way by dumpsters, barricades, equipment, material, or scaffolding, a permit must be obtained from the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works .
  • All demolition debris must be disposed of at a landfill approved by the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD). A listing of approved landfills may be obtained from the ACHD.
  • A Plumbing Permit issued by the Allegheny County Health Department Pluming Division is required for the termination of the water and sewer service lines.

Extermination Policy

Before demolition work is commenced, thorough and efficient measures shall be pursued in order to prevent the migration of rodents and other pests by exterminating them from all structures to be demolished. The following minimum requirements apply:

  • Employ only experienced exterminators.
  • Display warning signs in conspicuous places.
  • Three days prior to beginning demolition of any building, bait shall be distributed. No demolition of any nature shall begin before the lapse of three days from the distribution of bait.
  • Methods and materials used for baiting shall meet with the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and shall be used in accordance with the manufacturer's label instructions.

Proof of extermination by an experienced exterminator must be submitted to the Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections and verified complete prior to any demolition work.

Inspection

It is the responsibility of the permit holder to arrange for all required inspections by contacting the appropriate inspector. The inspector's name and phone number are printed in bold print on the permit. Required inspections include:

  • Void - a picture must be taken by the inspector before backfilling.
  • Water and Sewer termination – the Allegheny County Health Department Plumbing inspector must inspect the waterline and sewer line to see that it is properly terminated before backfilling.
  • Final inspection – the site needs to be backfilled, graded, seeded and strawed.

Work NOT Requiring a Permit

Building

  • One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouse and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet will require Zoning Approval and an Occupancy Permit.
  • Fences less than 6 feet high: will require Zoning Approval and an Occupancy Permit.
  • Oil derricks will require Zoning Approval and an Occupancy Permit.
  • Retaining walls that are not over 4'-0" in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II or IIIA liquids will require Zoning Approval and an Occupancy Permit.
  • Water tanks supported directly on grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to the diameter or the width does not exceed 2 to 1 will require Zoning Approval and an Occupancy Permit.
  • Sidewalks and driveways not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade, and not over any basement or story below grade and not part of an accessible route will require Zoning Approval and an Occupancy Permit.
  • Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery may require Zoning Approval.
  • Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R-3 occupancy that are less than 24” deep, do not exceed 5,000 gallons and are installed entirely above grade will require Zoning Approval and an Occupancy Permit.
  • Shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes, not including service systems will require Zoning Approval and an Occupancy Permit.
  • Swings and other playground equipment accessory to detached one and two-family dwellings will require Zoning Approval and an Occupancy Permit.
  • Window awnings that: 
    o    Are attached to Group R-3 or U Occupancies.
    o    Are supported by an exterior wall which do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall.
    o    Do not require additional support will require Zoning Approval and an Occupancy Permit.
  • Non-fixed and moveable fixtures, cases, racks, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches in height.
  • Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops and similar finish work.

Please note: Replacement windows DO require a building permit, and are not exempt, as stated in Title 34, 403.42(c)(xiii). Replacement windows must comply with the requirements of "The International Energy Conservation Code."


Electrical

  • Repairs and maintenance: Minor repair work, including the replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles.
  • Radio and television transmitting stations: The provisions of this code shall not apply to electrical equipment used for radio and television transmissions, but do apply to equipment and wiring for power supply, the installations of towers and antennas.
  • Temporary testing systems: A permit shall not be required for the installation of any temporary system required for the testing or servicing of electrical equipment or apparatus.


Gas

  • Portable heating appliance.
  • Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe.

 

Mechanical

  • Portable heating appliance.
  • Portable ventilation equipment.
  • Portable cooling unit.
  • Steam, hot or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by this code.
  •  Replacement of any part which does not alter its approval or make it unsafe.
  • Portable evaporative cooler.
  • Self-contained refrigeration system containing 10 pounds (4.54 kg) or less of refrigerant and actuated by motors of 1 horsepower (746 W) or less.