Construction Permits

Now you think that you’re ready to apply for construction permits or “building permits as they are commonly referred to. You are armed with your site plan approval and your final construction documents. You’ve also selected a contractor, or decided that you are going to undertake the work yourself. There still may be some things that you have forgotten.

Prior Approvals

Have you received a connection permit from the local water purveyor or sewage collection agency? If you are not on public water or sewer, you will require well and septic system approval.

You may have required a county approval for your site plan or subdivision – or a road opening permit – or an NJDEP permit or a Soil Conservation District permit. The Construction Code office will not consider your application complete for filing unless all of your prior approvals have been met.

Possibly, the municipal engineer or zoning officer will advise you about the other approvals that may be required before you apply for the construction permit.

Types of Enforcing Agency

The Uniform Construction Code of New Jersey (UCC) designates the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) as the body to oversee the requirements for issuance of construction permits throughout the State of New Jersey. DCA has delegated some of these responsibilities to Local Enforcing Agencies. Some of these are run by a single municipality, some are run through inter-local agreements between municipalities, some are run by county agencies, and some towns have opted to have DCA issue permits within their borders.

DCA has set up a system in which municipal enforcing agencies are classified as Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3. Class 1 agencies can review plans for most uses and size of construction – except things such as amusement rides and casinos, over which DCA has retained full control. Class 2 and Class 3 agencies are limited to the size and type of building for which they are allowed to review the plans. This system is based upon the level of education and experience of the local officials. Every class of municipal agency may inspect all types of buildings.

If your town does not have a Class 1 agency, you may be required to bring your plans to DCA for review.

Enforcing Agency Personnel

Each local enforcing agency may have about four general classifications of employee. These are:

Construction Official:

The Construction Official is the department head for the enforcing agency.

Subcode Officials:

The Subcode Official is the individual responsible for making the technical decisions about a given subcode (Building, Electrical, Fire Protection, Plumbing, Elevator), and for supervising all plan review activities within his/her subcode.


Inspectors may perform plan review under the supervision of the Subcode official and will perform field inspections of construction within the scope of the Subcode(s) in which they are licensed.

Technical Assistant:

The technical assistant generally runs the office and will process the permit applications, calculate the permit fees, schedule inspections, answer the phone, prepare the monthly reports and more. It is extremely important to develop a good working relationship with the technical assistant.

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