Jeff Grissler, Amazon Best Selling Author, Consultant and Educator
Jeff Grissler, Amazon Best Selling Author, Consultant and Educator

Building permits are the way counties, towns and municipalities enforce their building codes. Local governments adopt those codes in order to ensure that all buildings meet minimum safety and structural standards. They update them every few years as new building methods and materials are introduced. Do to the fact that the beauty industry is not a new business most states are familiar with salons opening or remodeling. The town ordinances, safety requirements and materials approved to open or remodel will be listed in your municipalities headquarters.

The process of obtaining a building permit for construction on your new salon, remodeling or expansion, may differ from state to state. Here is a general overview of the process and some suggestions for making the process run smoothly and quickly.

The permitting process is new to you, but the municipalities and building department handling these applications are familiar with their procedures and any questions you may have. While the municipalities adapt each business model they review may be subject to changes from the state, these changes and modifications will be passed onto the inspectors, than to you. So, do expect delays and the approval process can be an arduous task.

Difficulty: Hard

Time Required: The entire process from inception to occupancy permit: days to months. It really depends on a few factors, your contractor and the building code inspectors. Timing will be crucial and making sure your paperwork is in proper order will result in a quicker turn around and approval process. Make sure you time the ordering of any new salon equipment with the permitting and build out with all the necessary parties putting your project together. Timing will be essential for a smooth outcome.

Here's How:

1. Determine whether you need a building permit and the type of permit you need. If you are just doing minor repairs and painting/wallpapering/floor coverings for your salon, you will probably not need a permit. For more complex types of construction, you will need a permit. This includes new construction, additions, remodeling, tenant improvements, and changes in use (for example, a change in an office from professional to salon/ retail use).

2. Read all you can about the building codes, zoning restrictions, and related local ordinances for the type of construction you will be doing. Even if you are planning to have a contractor do the work, be sure you know the restrictions and requirements. For example, be aware of setback restrictions (how close to the end of the property a building can be located). You don't want to start construction and find out that your building is too close to the road! Also be aware of height restrictions for buildings, railings, and other structures.

3. Find a general contractor and draw up plans. If changes are being made to plumbing, electrical, sewer/septic, additional permits may be needed. If you’re doing the general contracting yourself, you will need to draw up the specifications yourself.

4. Prepare drawings and schematics and make several copies (the number depends on the requirements of your locality). All drawings must be signed by a licenses architect. (If your changes are minor, this requirement may not be necessary.) If you are using a contractor, the contractor will arrange for the signatures on the drawings and schematics (plumbing, electrical). You may also have to prepare land use and landscaping drawings and a general site plan, depending on the size and complexity of the changes.

If you will need exterior signs, check your locality's restrictions on size and placement before you order the signs. Some locations heavily regulate sign size and placement, while others do not.

How do you get a building permit?

Building permits are simple to obtain. Call your city or town building department or check your town's Web site. If you live in a very rural area, contact the governing body that includes your rural area and find out who you should talk to.

What will you need to provide the code enforcement officer?

It really depends on your municipality. Most towns require you provide a drawing and an estimate of the cost for the work that was going to be done. Your drawing could be a hand sketch or it could be an architectural drawing, depending on the complexity of the project. You may be using a salon designer for this project normally those plans may suffice. The code enforcement officer can provide you with their requirement. Most towns require you to fill out a very simple two-part form. The applicant keeps one part and the code enforcement office keep the second part. The form will include information relevant for the town and a very brief description of your remodeling project and a ballpark estimate of the cost of the project. If you are working with a contractor they may require that you attach a proposal from the said contractor.

Remember, the code enforcement officer is your friend not your enemy. You can call on your town's code enforcement officer anytime, not just when you are building something. They have the knowledge and expertise to help answer many of the remodeling questions you might have. And, their salary is normally paid through your property taxes so it seems like it's free advice. Don't hire an extra consultant. Ask your code enforcement officer first.

Cost: The cost of the permit can be very minimal, depending on the work you are having done. A permit in most towns, for a significant remodeling project should run about $100.00. The cost of a permit in your town may be based on the estimated cost of your project. A Building permit usually is good for one year. Once you obtain the permit, tape it to your door or window. This public display lets any neighbors or passersby know that you have obtained the necessary permit for the job you are doing and that the town you live in is aware of your home remodeling project. Also, anyone who is interested could contact the code enforcement officer to find out the scope of your project.

What happens if your project runs long and you reach the expiration of your permit? Contact the code enforcement officer and ask for a renewal. If your projects has delays the code enforcer may require you to request a renewal. The renewal cost is normally $25.00 again this can vary from state to state.

The code enforcement officer in your town is there to serve you. Utilize his or her services for a safe, successful construction of your new business facility.

Contractor’s assistance is worth it!

As you can well imagine building a salon or going through a remodel is and will not be an easy undertaking. There is such a wide variance in the different circumstances where it might be required that you have a building permit, that it is literally impossible to list them all. Hiring the right contractor that is familiar with the necessary paperwork and permitting process with the town you are opening your new business will make streamline the building process.

However, if you have hired a contractor to work on the necessary alterations to adapt the building to meet your salon businesses needs they should be at the very least familiar with the process. When you are hiring a contractor, there is going to be a part of the hiring process where you both sign a contract. In that contract you should have it outlined that the contractor is responsible for the obtaining and maintenance of any and all required building permits, and that the failure to do so is going to result in the contract footing the bill when it comes time to pay the fines. Finally, before paying the contract, you should ask for a copy of any required inspection results (which is what the building permit is for in a way). Making sure that everything is up to code is going to save you a huge headache, and added expense, later on when you try to open or expand your business. Follow the guidelines, get to know your inspector and support your local municipality. This will only help your salon business down the road. Who knows maybe you will pick up some new customers along the way…

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