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The City of New Orleans

Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu


Substantial Improvement Permit

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A Substantial Improvement permit is required to improve or significantly change an existing building. For the purposes of the City’s regulations, “Substantial Improvement” is any improvement where the value of the work exceeds 50% of the value of the existing structure. In most circumstances, a Substantial Improvement will require the submission of architectural plans. After submitting your plans, they will go through the plan review process, which involves reviews to verify compliance with the City's amendments to the International Building Code and the City’s zoning ordinance. You can look up your zoning here. Depending on the specifics of your project, this review may also include or require approvals from other agencies (Historic Districts Landmark Commission, Vieux Carre Commission, City Planning, etc.). A building permit will only be issued after the plan review process is completed and compliance with all applicable regulations is verified.

Duration: Residential projects, 2-5 days; Commercial projects, 20-30 days.


  • $60 plus $5 per $1,000 of work to be performed
  • If plans are required there is a plan review fee of $1 per $1,000 of work to be performed
  • If a property is within a local historic district (property subject to additional regulations by VCC or HDLC), there is a 50% surcharge on the permit fee

Required documents/steps

  • Check to see if your building is located in a historic district or in the French Quarter  – if so, permits and approvals from the HDLC or VCC need to be acquired. You can also look up your zoning here
  • Fill out and submit the BUILDING_PERMIT_MASTER_APPLICATION or begin online here
  • Recorded Act of Sale, if the property has recently changed ownership
  • Digital plans and drawings: please see our Standards for Digital Submission
    • 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
    • One set of complete plans, stamped with digital seals from a Louisiana licensed architect or civil engineer
    • Foundation drawings detailing the foundation of the proposed structure, stamped with digital seals from a Louisiana licensed architect or civil engineer
  • Previous/Current and proposed use of the structure
  • Number of floors or levels in the structure
  • If the improvement is roofing related and the property is within a local historic district or is a designated landmark, fill out the Roof_Certificate_of_Appropriateness Application
  • Benchmark Certificate, completed by a registered land surveyor, on the City’s three-part form, with live seals, and dated within the last six-months
  • Contractor’s license information. (If the project is owner-occupied residential, State Exemption Form R-1364 may be submitted in lieu of contractor license information.)

Issuing agency

Safety and Permits

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Last updated: 6/13/2016 9:50:34 AM

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