Frequently Asked Questions

When do I need a permit?
Any owner, authorized agent, or contractor who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by the technical codes, or to cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit for the work. City of West Palm Beach, Model Countywide Amendments to the Florida Building Code 2004 Edition, Section 105.1.

A permit shall be required for, but not limited to: buildings/structures, service systems (gas, plumbing, mechanical/air conditioning, electrical & etc.), roofing, fences awnings, windows & doors, barriers & signs, antennas, masts, poles, pools, fuel tanks, surfaces (asphalt or concrete driveways, parking areas, sidewalks, etc.), marine facilities, and fire prevention/suppression.

When is a building permit not required?
Ordinary minor repairs, installation or replacement may be made with the approval of the building official without a permit, provided that such repairs shall not violate any of the provisions of the technical codes. City of West Palm Beach, Model Countywide Amendments to the Florida Building Code 2004 Edition, Section 105.2.

Where do I apply for a building permit?
Apply, in person, at Construction Services, City Hall – 1st Floor, 401 Clematis Street, West Palm Beach, Florida 33401. Permit Applications can be downloaded and printed via the Internet from the E-GovPlus (One-Stop-Shop) On-Line Web Service, but must be submitted in person with payment to the Construction Services. [map & directions]

What is the penalty for failing to obtain the proper permit?
In addition to any other penalty imposed for failure to obtain a permit, where construction of any work for which a permit is required commenced before a permit is issued, the permit fees shall be quadrupled. Code of the City of West Palm Beach, Chapter 18, Article II.

How long is a permit valid?
A permit shall become invalid unless work authorized by it shall have been commenced within six months after its issuance, or if the work is suspended or abandoned for a period of 180 days after the time the work is commenced. One or more extensions of time, for periods not more than 90 days each, may be allowed for the permit. The extension shall be requested in writing to the building official while the permit is valid and justifiable cause demonstrated. Extensions shall be in writing by the building official, if granted. City of West Palm Beach, Model Countywide Amendments to the Florida Building Code 2004 Edition, Section 105.4.1.

Am I required to obtain a permit to re-roof my house?
Yes, except for minor repairs having a value of less than $1500 (labor and materials) providing that the work will not affect structural integrity.

How many layers of roofing can I install, before I have to tear off the old roofs in order to recover my roof?
Two, provided that the roofing structure is designed to accommodate all loads imposed by the roofing.

Am I required to obtain a permit to build a concrete or asphalt driveway?
Yes, and a site plan is always required with a description of what is being done. Depending on the scope of work, additional structural detail may also be required.

Am I required to obtain a permit to build a fence?
Yes, and a site plan and structural details must be provided.

Why do I need a permit to build or remodel my own house or property?
In a word, SAFETY, your safety, and that of your family, visitors, guests and neighbors.

Can I get a refund on the permit fee?
If plan review has commenced, 70% of the permit fee can be refunded. If work has commenced, no refund can be given. Refunds must be requested in writing, prior to the expiration of the permit.

How do I know if I am dealing with a reputable Contractor?
First, verify that the Contractor is licensed. Florida Law requires that a General Contractor or home improvement contractor be licensed. Ask to see proof!

Verify that the Contractor is insured. State Law requires that they carry workers compensation insurance. Ask to see a certificate of insurance.

Ask for references and check them out!

Make sure all agreements are in writing! Be sure to reduce all change orders, or contract amendments to writing. Make sure the Contractor obtains all required building permits and pass the required code inspections. Conspicuously post the building permit before the work begins and be sure you are furnished with a Use & Occupancy Certificate issued by Construction Services before making final payment of the contract amount.

Where can I buy a codebook?
Note: First, determine which codebook you need. You can view a list below of some common model codes that have been adopted by the City of West Palm Beach. From the list, be sure to note the correct edition that applies to your building project.

  • Florida Building, Mechanical, Plumbing and Fuel Gas Code(s) 2004 (with 2005 and 2006 Revisions) see www.floridabuilding.org
  • National Electrical Code, NFPA 70-05, 2005 Edition (excluding Article 80)
  • Florida Fire Prevention Code, Life Safety Code, NFPA 101, 2003 Edition
  • West Palm Beach Local Amendments (see www.floridabuilding.org select “Florida Building Code” and then select “Local Amendments”)

You can access the Florida Building Code and all amendments directly from www.floridabuilding.org