Guide to Building Permits

What is a Building Permit?

A building permit is a document issued by the Department of Safety & Permits that allows - or permits - the owner of a property to construct a new building, or repair, alter , or demolish an existing building.

In many instances, especially for clear, straightforward work like kitchen and bathroom remodeling or emergency repairs following a disaster, a building permit application can be reviewed by a permit analyst and the permit issued the same day.

However, if plans are required for your job - such as for new construction or structural work - a building permit will not be issued until after the plan review process is completed. This review ensures compliance with the Building, Electrical, and Mechanical Codes of the City.

Why do I need a permit?

A permit protects you, your neighbor and your neighborhood. It protects your contractor and ensures that he meets the minimum requirements of the New Orleans Building Code. It protects your City and most importantly it protects your property value and can often be used in an insurance claim.

According to the Fire Department, the City of New Orleans has had thousands of electrically or mechanically created fires and collapsed buildings through the years. This number would have been even greater without a permitting system for construction, renovation and demolitions, as well as a method for enforcing the Building Code.

The permit process also ensures that your project and the work of others complies with the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance to preserve the quality of life in our city. In a word, the reason you need a permit is safety.

Where do I get my Building Permit?

Building Permits are issued by the Department of Safety & Permits. This office is located at 1340 Poydras St, Suite 800, New Orleans, LA 70112.

When is a Building Permit required?

The New Orleans Building Code states, in part, “any owner, authorized agent, or contractor who desires to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect or construct a sign of any description, or to install or alter fire extinguishing apparatus, elevators, engines, or to install a steam boiler, furnace, heater, incinerator or other heat producing apparatus or other apparatuses, the installation of which is required by this code, or to cause any such work to be done shall first make application… and obtain the required permit for the work.”

If you are uncertain about the need for a building permit, please call the Building Division in the Department of Safety & Permits for assistance: (504) 658-7130.

When is a Building Permit not required?

A building permit is generally not required for the following activities. A permit may be required if the Department of Safety & Permits finds the activities to be particularly hazardous or complex and requires permitting and inspection:

  • Removal or replacement of weather boards, aluminum or vinyl siding.
  • Removal or replacement of floor boards.
  • Removal or replacement of deteriorated porches and steps on the front, rear, or side of a building, provided that there is no conflict with the Zoning Ordinance
  • Interior painting, papering or similar finishing.
  • Paving of the rear yard.
  • Retaining walls not over three (3) feet high.
  • Roofing or gutter work with respect to singles and doubles.
  • Fences up to 8’ in height when there is no conflict with the Zoning Ordinance.

Vieux Carré Commission or Historic District Landmarks Commission requirements may apply. If your property is within a local historic district please contact the approproate agency before you begin work.

What information do I need to get a Building Permit?

The following information is necessary to process a Building Permit application:

  • Municipal address of the property
  • Market value of work to be done (even if you’re doing the work yourself)
  • Owner’s name, address and telephone number
  • Architect / Contractor name, address and telephone number (where applicable)
  • Recorded Act of Sale, if the property has recently changed ownership
  • Detailed description of work to be performed
  • Plot plan reflecting all dimensions of the lot and all structures, setbacks to property lines and the location and dimensions of off-street parking spaces. If you are building an addition the square footage of the existing structure and the proposed addition are also required.
  • Complete plans, stamped with live seals from a Louisiana licensed Architect or Civil Engineer, are required for all new construction, additions, and structural renovations.
  • Previous/current and proposed use of the structure
  • Number of floors or levels in the structure
  • Certificate of Appropriateness, if the property is within a local historic district or a designated landmark
  • Benchmark Certificate for all new construction or projects where work exceeds 50% of the value of the existing building
  • Copy of a current Certificate of Registration for your contractor as well as the company name and license number.
  • Check or money order payable to the City of New Orleans.

Note: Plans are generally required for all commercial projects, depending on the scope of work to be performed. This is determined by the Chief Plan Examiner based upon the requirements of the New Orleans Building Code and the Life Safety Code.

What other permits may be necessary from Safety & Permits?

  • Electrical
    If you plan to install, repair, replace, or alter any electrical apparatus or equipment, except for the replacement of light bulbs and fuses. This assures compliance with the National Electrical Code and City regulations. Only an electrical contractor with a Class “A” license from the City of New Orleans can apply for this permit.
  • Mechanical
    If you plan to install, repair, replace, or alter any mechanical or gas-fired apparatus or equipment, such as air conditioning systems, electric or gas heaters, electric or gas furnaces or heaters, gas lines, or elevators. This requires permits to be applied for only by the appropriate City-licensed contractor.
  • Demolition
    When you plan to demolish any structure liability insurance and photos of all four sides of the building must be provided to Safety & Permits at the time of application. A Letter of Intent/Demolition Request form is also required to be completed. Additional approvals will be necessary if your property is within the Neighborhood Conservation District or a local historic district (see the brochure on Demolition Permits).

What about plumbing permits?

You will need a plumbing permit if you plan to remove or replace any water piping or plumbing fixture. This assures compliance with the regulations of the Sewerage and Water Board. Only your Orleans Parish licensed master plumber may apply for this permit.

Plumbing permits are issued by the Sewerage and Water Board, not the Department of Safety & Permits.

What are the fees for obtaining a permit?

Fees for building permits are based on the value of work to be performed. Fees are due at the time of application and must be in the form of check or money order, made payable to the City of New Orleans.

  • The building permit fee is $60 plus $5 per $1000 of work to be performed (use the formula: job value x .005 + $60)
  • If plans are required there is a plan review fee of $1 per $1000 of work to be performed (job value x .001 + permit fee from above). Please note that the minimum Plan Review fee is $60.
  • If a property is within a local historic district there is a 50% surcharge on the permit fee (job value x .0025 + fees from above)

Other Information

Fees include normal inspections and the Certificate of Use and Occupancy. Once application is made, the fees are not refundable.

A separate fee will be charged for Electrical and Mechanical Permits when the licensed contractors applies for those. There is also a separate fee for plumbing permits from the Sewerage & Water Board.

There will be penalty fees assessed if work begins prior to obtaining a Building Permit. The fee is two (2) times the building permit price plus the regular permit fees for ordinary construction. If the non-permitted work is a demolition the fees assessed will be five (5) times the permit price or 10% of the assessed value of the building, whichever is greater. Do not begin work before receiving your permit!

When you receive your permit, it must be posted clearly and visibly on the site in a location that can be seen from the street.

If you remove paint from the exterior of an existing structure you must notify the Building Division. You may be required to take appropriate actions if there is lead-based paint on the structure.

You should obtain a copy of the brochure “Working with the Plan Review Division” if plans are required for your project. You should also obtain a copy of “Working with the Building Division” regarding required inspections and how to obtain your Certificate of Use and Occupancy at the end of your project.

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1340 Poydras Street Suite 800 New Orleans, LA 70112


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