FAQs

Yes, a permit is required to operate a Residential Care Facility. A Residential Care Facility is defined as a home with support and supervisory personnel that provides room and board, personal care, and rehabilitation services in a family environment for not more than six resident handicapped persons. Residential care facilities require zoning approval and must be at least 2,000 feet apart.

No, the county’s zoning ordinance does not regulate fences and you will not need a permit from Building Safety to construct a fence. However, you should check with your neighborhood homeowner’s association for any restrictions on fences, and also verify that the fence does not encroach into any access, stormwater, or utility easements.  If your lot is near the water and there is the potential for land disturbance, please contact the New Hanover County Planning and Land Use Zoning division to confirm whether or not you will need a Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) permit.

Yes, you will need to apply for a commercial sign permit. For more information about sign regulations, refer to Sections 90-96 (pages 204-219) of the New Hanover County Zoning Ordinance.

Yes, a pool is considered an accessory structure and is treated the same as a garage for setback purposes.  All accessory structures under 600 sq. ft. can qualify for a reduced setback to 5 ft. from side and rear. The setbacks apply to the pool depression of an in-ground pool and not to the concrete slab surrounding the pool. The pool, including decks and steps, would need to have a 5 ft. separation from any other structure. If the pool is closer than 5 ft., it would not qualify for the reduced setbacks and would need to meet the same setbacks that would apply to the house’s zoning.

Please visit the Permits page for a full list of documents needed to submit an application for a Fast-Track Residential Permit.

Please visit the Permits page for a full list of documents needed to submit an application for a Residential Permit.

Please visit the Permits page for a full list of documents needed to submit an application for a Commercial Building Permit.

If this is your first time building in New Hanover County, you will also need to provide the following in addition to the required permit application documents:

  • A copy of your general contractors license for projects exceeding $29,999
  • Proof of workman’s compensation insurance or signed affidavit
  • Fast-Track Residential Projects – 4 to 7 business days
  • Standard Residential Projects – 7 to 10 business days
  • Commercial Projects – approximately 7 to 10 business days for small projects and 2 weeks or more for large projects.

Note: Outside agencies or incomplete application documentation may delay this process.

After submitting  a permit application, you will be given a card with your application number on it. Please keep this number and refer to it when inquiring about the status of your application or requesting permits and inspections.

If a plan is not approved, the Development Services Center staff will contact the applicant and provided the reason(s) the plan was denied.

New Hanover County accepts inspection requests via email to more efficiently serve county citizens. Inspection requests can be emailed to inspectionrequests@nhcgov.com

Inspection requests may also be submitted:

  • Via the web portal
  • By phone: 910-798-7308 (using prompt #1 then #1) during normal business hours, except county holidays
  • By fax: 910-798-7811
  • In person at the Development Services Center, located at 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 170

All inspection requests received before 3:30 p.m. will be scheduled for the next business day. Requests received after 3:30 p.m. will be scheduled for the day after the next business day. Normal working hours for the Inspections staff are 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday-Friday except county holidays, however after hours inspections are available by special request.

Note: Although inspections are scheduled as described above, they are subject to workload. Inspectors prioritize re-inspections when arriving in an area that has follow-up inspections and first-time inspections.

Inspections may cancelled in accordance with the Inspections Cancellation Policy by:

  • Phone: 910-798-7308
  • Email: DSC@nhcgov.com
  • Canceling in person at the Development Services Center located in the New Hanover County Government Center

You are required to keep your construction site clean. Specific site regulations are explained below.

Litter: According to New Hanover County code 11-78, property owners and prime contractors in charge of construction sites are required to control litter generated by construction and related activities. Management of construction debris, especially employee trash, is necessary to maintain a litter-free community. In addition to a container for primary construction debris, it is recommended that a 55 gallon drum or similar container be placed for each 5,000 square feet of site, primarily for the collection of workers’ incidental trash (wrapping, plastic, drink containers, etc.). These containers should be emptied when filled, or at least weekly.

Transportation of Litter: According to New Hanover County Code 11-80(a), materials being transported in an open-bed truck must be secured so that litter does not blow out onto the roadway and rights-of-way in the county.

Burning of Materials: Under no circumstances should anything other than plant growth be burned. Learn more about residential burning, permissible land clearing, and burn permits on the NC Forest Service website.

Disposal of Waste Materials: Any property owner and/or contractor producing, handling, or creating trash and garbage on a construction or demolition site is responsible for disposing of it at a permitted sanitary landfill, incinerator, or demolition landfill site. For further information, call New Hanover County Environmental Management at 910-798-4400.

Please refer to the North Carolina Department of Insurance website for current building codes.

If you have other building code-related questions, please contact the county’s Plan Review Bureau at 910-798-7308 (Prompt #2) or by email at planreviews@nhcgov.com.

Building Safety: 230 Government Center Dr, Suite 170 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7308 • Fax 910-798-7811