Permits

It is important to carefully review the requirements of each of the applicable review agencies and departments prior to submitting applications for plan reviews and permits. Incomplete applications for permits will cause delays in the timelines for the overall plan review processes and the issuance of permits.

Note: an application alone does not constitute a permit and work in any manner must not begin without the issuance of a permit. Work performed without a permit is a violation of state law and is prosecutable to the fullest extent according to the applicable ordinances and regulations. Additionally, the county assesses additional fees for work performed without an issued permit.

Applicants or their designees may submit a permit application:

  • By email:
    • Simple applications (general repairs, etc.) and trade permits (Electrical, Mechanical, and Plumbing) – Please email the permit application to DSC@nhcgov.com. Applicants will receive an email response from Development Services staff to confirm the receipt of documents.
    • Applications including electronic plans – Please email the permit application to eplans@nhcgov.com.
  • By fax: 910-798-7811
  • By mail: Building Safety Department, 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 170, Wilmington, NC 28403
  • In person at the Development Services Center located at 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 170, during normal business hours

Applications that require the submission of large site plans may be submitted on CD or uploaded to the Plan Review FTP website.

Note: 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.

Review Services staff review all received permit applications for completeness and for the scope of work stated in the application. The staff will notify the applicant of any of the following:

  • Deficiencies from the requirements of the Building Safety Department
  • Incorrect or missing supporting documents
  • Additional information required in order to process the application and permit

In accordance with state regulations, the department will refuse to issue a permit if the application does not conform to the requirements of the North Carolina building codes,  county ordinances, and other pertinent laws. If the application is refused it will be returned to the applicant with the reason(s) for the refusal.

An application for a permit will be considered abandoned if:

  • 180 days has passed after the application date and the applicant has not responded to the Building Safety Department, or
  • 180 days has passed after the date on which the Building Safety Department notified the applicant that the permit was ready for pickup

Development Coordination and Review Services (DCRS) issues permits after all of the following:

  • All of the reviews and approvals are completed
  • All of the required information for the permit has been provided
  • The applicant, owner, or designated agent has paid all of the required fees, including any outstanding fees assessed by the county

The DCRS staff, under the authority of the Director’s Office, issues permits after determining that the proposed work satisfies the requirements of the North Carolina building codes, county ordinances, and other pertinent laws. Permits are issued for:

  • The construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, or movement of a building to another site
  • The removal or demolition of any building
  • The installation, extension, or general repair of any plumbing system
  • The installation, extension, or general repair of any heating or cooling equipment system
  • The installation, extension, or general repair of any electrical wiring, devices, appliances, or equipment

A permit will expire if :

  • The work has not started within 6 months of the date the permit was issued
  • The permit holder or the authorized designee does not request an inspection within 12 months after the date the permit was issued
  • The work is discontinued for a period of 12 months after the start of work or after the last inspection
  • The time lapses between successive inspections is more than 12 calendar months

When a permit expires, the permit holder or authorized designee must obtain a new permit. An expired permit is not renewable.  A permit holder or authorized designee can request a time extension or renewal of a permit within 3 working days before the expiration of a permit.


REVOCATION OF PERMITS

The Assistant Director of Building Safety, the Chief Code Compliance Officers, and staff designated by the Building Safety Director have the authority to revoke any permit after conferring with the director.

If a permit is revoked, the Building Safety Manager or designee will require the permit holder to return the permit card and will state the reason(s) for the revocation.

Permits may be revoked for:

  • Any substantial departure from the approved permit application, plans, and specifications as determined by the Building Safety Director
  • Refusal or failure to comply with the requirements of any applicable state or local laws, ordinances, or regulations
  • False statements or misrepresentations made in securing the permit
  • Permits that were mistakenly issued in violation of an applicable state or local law, ordinance, or regulation
  • A complete set of building drawings including a plot and/or site plan showing all setbacks from property lines, the floor plan, elevation of the building, typical wall section, footing details, foundation plan, framing details, stair details, insulation/energy form, chimney/fireplace details,  and ventilation of attic/crawl spaces.
  • Approval of the New Hanover County Health Department for a private well and/or septic tank.
  • Approval from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) for community water and/or sewer and proof of payment of impact fees to CFPUA.
  • Homes that will be located on waterfront property such as the coastline, Cape Fear River, Intracoastal Waterway, or any of the area creeks, may require a Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) permit prior to issuance of a building permit.

The Building Safety Department strives to issue Fast-Track Residential Building Permits for new construction in 4 to 7 business days after a permit application is submitted with specific required prior approvals. With support from the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association (WCFHBA) and from the County Manager, the Building Safety Department implemented the Fast-Track program on April 3, 2017,  to better serve new construction residential building customers, and to expedite the new construction residential permit process.

The Fast-Track Residential Building Application Packet and all of the required forms and documents must be completed, and all drawings must comply with all applicable codes, in order to guarantee a 4 to 7 business day permit processing and issuance timeline. Failure to complete the Residential Permit Application Form and the Statement of Understanding Form, or failure to comply with all codes and ordinances, will cause delays in the permit issuance, in which case the county cannot guarantee that the Residential Building Permit will be issued within 4 to 7 business days.

In order to submit a Fast-Track Residential Permit application for new residential construction, a customer must include the following:

All additional required documents must be attached to a completed Fast-Track Residential Building Permit Application.  Applications that do not include all of the required prior approvals and additional applicable documentation must be submitted using the standard Residential Building Application.

Completed Fast-Track Residential Building Permit applications and the additional required documentation may be submitted:

Note: Fast-Track Residential Permit Applications received after 4:30 p.m., either in person or via email, will be logged to begin reviews starting the next business day.

To submit an application for a Commercial Building Permit you must submit all of the documents required for a Residential Building Permit, plus the following documents:

  • 4 (four) complete sets of sealed plans and one additional site plan
  • Riser Diagram and load calculations for Electrical
  • Heat Gain / Heat Loss calculations for Mechanical and Energy Codes
  • Fire Sprinkler Drawings (if applicable)

Other important notes:

  • With prior notification to the Plan Review staff (email planreviews@nhcgov.com), you may submit an application for “Foundation Only” work in lieu of full construction.
  • There are special requirements for metal buildings: a certificate, indicating compliance with the high wind exposure for New Hanover County, is required. However, if the certificate is not available at the time of application, a “Foundation Only” application may be submitted with foundation drawings that bear the seal of a structural engineer or a competent registered design professional licensed in North Carolina.
  • You must see the Building Plans Examiner (email planreviews@nhcgov.com) who will discuss your project with you to assure your application is in order.

If this is the first time building in New Hanover County, you will also need to provide the following:

  • A copy of your general contractors license for projects exceeding $29,999
  • Proof of workman’s compensation insurance or signed affidavit

Site and landscaping plans are reviewed by the applicable zoning authority. For projects in the unincorporated county, two copies of site and landscaping plans are required.

Please contact the applicable Zoning Department for your site and landscaping plans:

Inspections may be requested from 7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Monday – Friday, except on designated county holidays. Inspection requests will be completed the next available working day. Inspection requests received after 3:30 p.m. will be scheduled no earlier than two working days after the date of the request.

The DCRS staff, Inspection Chiefs, or county-automated systems assign inspection requests for scheduled times that are available. Due to the high volume of requests received daily, inspections are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Information needed to schedule an inspection:

  • Contractor’s name
  • Permit number
  • Type of inspection
  • Project’s address
  • Contractor’s phone number if the contractor is requesting that the inspector call before arriving on the job site
  • Contractor’s email address in case DCRS staff needs to use an automated response system to notify the contractor of any updates or changes in the scheduled inspection time

Validity

The inspection(s) made by the Building Safety Department are only valid for the time when the inspector made the inspection(s) and do not reflect any changes that may have been made after the inspection, or changes made without the inspector’s approval. Any changes made after an inspection will require separate reviews and approvals from the Building Safety Department.

Time Limitations

If after starting work with a permit, the work is discontinued for a period of 12 months as evident from the absence of scheduled inspections during that time period, the issued permit expires immediately. If a permit expires, no work previously authorized by the permit can be performed until a new permit has been issued.

Approving or Denying Certificates of Code Compliance

New Hanover County does not automatically issue Certificates of Compliance (CC). A permit holder must request a Certificate of Compliance in order for a CC to be issued by the county. It is the responsibility of the permit holder to request a Certificate of Compliance after the satisfactory completion, inspections, and approval of the specific scope of work for which the permit was issued.

According to the North Carolina General Statute §153A-363, no new building or part thereof may be occupied, and no addition or enlargement of an existing building may be occupied until after the issuance of a Certificate of Compliance. The New Hanover County Building Safety Department has no tolerance for violations of the General Statutes, and particularly to the compliance provisions in the General Statutes.

In New Hanover County, the Certificate of Compliance for building codes does not grant authority to occupy the building since occupancy implies that all codes, ordinances, and laws of New Hanover County have been complied with. The Building Safety Department may issue temporary or partial Certificates of Occupancy under special circumstances and limitations.

Note: New Hanover County does not issue Certificates of Code Compliance for the Town of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, or Wrightsville Beach. Customers transacting business with one of these towns must contact the appropriate town regarding their respective policies on Certificates of Code Compliance.

Approving or Denying Certificates of Occupancy

A Certificate of Occupancy (CO) authorizes the occupancy and use of a building. Occupancy is directly related to the building code, while use is directly related to both the building code (use groups and their code requirements) and zoning use of land. After receiving all of the required approvals from both internal and external review departments, agencies, and jurisdictions, the Building Safety Department can release the project (address) for electrical service and can then issue a Certificate of Occupancy.

New Hanover County does not automatically issue Certificates of Occupancy. A permit holder must request a Certificate of Occupancy in order for the county to process the issuance of the certificate. It is the responsibility of the permit holder to request a Certificate of Occupancy after the Building Safety Department receives the satisfactory completion, inspections, and approvals from all the review departments, agencies, and jurisdictions.

According to the New Hanover County Ordinance § 23-235(f), a certificate of occupancy may not be issued if any land disturbing activity, including single-family residences, is found not to be in compliance with any part of the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Ordinance of the county.

The Building Safety Department may issue temporary or partial Certificates of Occupancy under special circumstances and limitations.

Note: New Hanover County does not issue Certificates of Occupancy for the Town of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, or Wrightsville Beach. Customers transacting business with one of those towns must contact the appropriate municipality regarding their respective policies on Certificates of Occupancy.

Temporary Certificate of Occupancy

A Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) is for a stated period of time until the deficient requirements of the county have been resolved. Subject to the approval of the Building Safety Director, the permit holder, owner, or occupant may request a time extension for a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy. The requestor must make the extension request at least seven working days before the expiration of the current Temporary Certificate of Occupancy. This allows the Building Safety Department enough time to coordinate with the other review agencies or departments that placed the requirements which defined the time limitations for the certificate.

Partial Certificate of Occupancy

A Partial Certificate of Occupancy (PCO) is for a specific portion or portions of a building to allow occupancy or use of the portion(s) of the building while correcting deficient requirements that are outside of the stated specific portion(s). The specific portion(s) for the Partial Certificate of Occupancy must comply with all applicable provisions of the North Carolina building codes. The Building Safety Director may place an expiration date for the Partial Certificate of Occupancy.

If there is a time limitation for the Partial Certificate, the owner or occupant may request a time extension subject to the approval of the Building Safety Director.  A time extension request must be submitted at least seven working days before the expiration of the current Partial Certificate of Occupancy. This allows the Building Safety Department enough time to determine the progress of compliance and coordinate with any other review agencies or departments if applicable.

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