Building Frequently Asked Questions

Building Frequently Asked Questions

Building Department
What is the Construction Code?
The construction code was adopted in 1977 in an effort to provide uniform construction code enforcement throughout the state. Since that time, there have been many changes to the actual administration of the code and the referenced regulations used by the “code”. The intent of this code is to promote safety to all persons within the State of NJ. Safety includes health and welfare as well as fire safety. The UCC encompasses many items that lend to a continuous interaction and relationship with other departments and agencies.

What is the administrative code for construction in New Jersey?
The adminstration of construction in New Jersey is regulated by the NJ Uniform Construction Code (N.J.A.C. 5:23-1.1 et seq.) This regulation is the first step in determining most construction work that is done in NJ. To view this document in it’s entirity click here. IMPORTANT – You will need to open the various folders that are specifically for this code. The title number of the regulation is 5 while the chapter number is 23. Please note that this may NOT be the most current edition of this regulation as there are frequent changes made by the State Legistation Authority. Should you have any questions regarding this regulation, please contact the building department.

Need to Research the NJ Codes?
If you want to research the NJ editions of the various building codes associated with construction projects, here is a link to some of them. WARNING: Please be aware that this is a reference document and you may wish to employ the services of a NJ licensed design professional for a complete and through code review for your specific project. It is not recommended that a review of the codes within the associated link will provide you with all of the complete information necessary to determine what is necessary for a code compliant plan review application. There are many various avenues associated with these codes and a through knowledge is necessary to navigate through them.Click here for the link.

What are the most frequent projects that require permits?
The most frequent types of permits our department will see include the following;

Roofing or siding
Finished basements
Pool installations
Pool barriers (fences)
Furnace or water heater replacements
Electrical service panel modifications


When is a permit required?
It is very important that you read the full document. This information details instances when permits would NOT be required therefore, all other work requires a permit. If you have any questions, please contact our office @ 908-369-4313, ext 165 or 166. The enclosed link will take you to the actual code information itself. Within this chapter of the code, please scroll down within the document to section 2.7. This is the section that speaks to what does NOT require permits. Please click here to determine if you need a permit.

Patio Pavers – Does it require a permit?

Does a patio paver system require a construction permit? First, a raised patio is one where the existing grade is being raised in the immediate area around the home OR the installion of this patio creates the need for a set of steps/stairs to be installed to get to the grade level. The question regarding the need for a permit is not easily answered without some other information.

1. Is the current grade being altered so as to create stairs or a retaining wall ?
2. Is the area next to the house having the grade raised?
3. Are there ANY existing steps that are being effected by this paver system?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then a construction permit is necessary. Caution must be exercised regarding a paver system that increases the loads upon the foundation of the house. Adding additional earth in this area OR adding a block landing/stair system against the foundation may have a negative impact.

Please contact the construction office regarding this matter for additional information.

Must I use a contractor for work done at my house?
This question requires some explanation. Please read the following carefully! If the work you wish to have done is for your the house that own and physically reside in then there are several options.

First, you yourself are allowed to do work on your own house. You are also allowed to have “help” doing the work as long as you are actually doing and supervisoring the work. This is allowed only for a one or two family house that you own AND reside at.

Second, you may use a LICENSED contractor for the work that you wish to have done. Any type of work that a contractor performs on a residential house or part thereof requires the contractor to be appropriately licensed. The types of licenses that are currently available are Home Improvement Contractor’s License, Electrical Contractor’s License, Plumbing Contractor’s License, Fire Protection Contractor’s Certification, and Fire Alarm Contractor’s License. It is important to note that the Home Improvement Contractor law applies to any residential type of structure or part thereof. To view links for the various licensing agencies, click here.

Lastly, any commercial property requires that any electrical, plumbing or fire protection work be done by a licensed contractor.

What are the codes used to design a building project?
Click here for a list of the current codes used for any building project in the State of NJ.

What code do I use for construction in an existing building?

This is a great question. In the State of NJ there is a regulation called the Rehabilation Subcode. This “code” deals with all types of work that could possibly be done within an existing building. It is broken into 4 catorgories, repair, renovation, alteration, and reconstruction. To view a chart of these catorgories and the applicable sections of the rehab code that would apply click here.
Each type of building is listed in the rehab code. The applicant should completely review all of the rehab code to determine which parts are applicable and which are not. To view the entire rehab code click here.

I’m buying a home or business. Is there anything needed from the building department?
While there is no certificate of occupancy needed for a residential resale, there absolutely is certain things that should be checked! Your legal representative (if you have one) or your agent should verify that there are no open permits for the block and lot of the property you plan to purchase. If there are any open permits on file, once the closing is completed you have inherited all of the outstanding matters associated with the property. The responsibility is now transferred to you as the new owner. Therefore, it is very important to have your agent verify the permit status of the block and lot that you are purchasing.

Additionally, if you are purchasing a non residential property AND altering the business nature of the property, you need to submit for a Continued Certificate of Occupancy. Click here for more information regarding this certificate.

What do I need to do to open a business?

There are many things you will need. One is to obtain a zoning application from the Zoning Department. (Click here to go to the Zoning website information) Depending on the type of business that you want to open, you will need to obtain either a Certificate of Continued Occupancy or a Change of Use Application from the Construction Department. Both of these are a formal approval which will require an application and inspections. Please click here for information on the Certificate of Continued Occupancy.

What do I need to submit for a construction permit?
Another excellant question. You will need the appropriate completed technical applications, the completed folder that holds the applications, 2 sets of plans or construction documents, and 2 sets of all of the specs/cuts from the manufacturer’s of the various equipment or appliances that will be installed. The plans or construction documents will need to be signed and sealed by a NJ licensed designer OR if the scope of work is for your one/two family dwelling which you own and reside in, then you, as the owner, may draw your own plans. Please note that the plans must have sufficient detail in order to determine code compliance AND that your are knowledgable about the code design requirements. Click here to read the instructions if you were to submit a permit application to the STATE DCA PLAN REVIEW unit. The submission process is the same for Hillsborough Twp. except that the application would be delivered to Hillsborough Twp Building Department instead of the STATE.

What information is needed on residential plans
There is a lot of information necessary to document code compliance. Some the basics such as the design code used, use designation, construction type, live and dead load values and wind design information just to name a few. Without this basic information a code plan review cannot begin.

There are various on line tools that can be used to assist applicants and designers in determining some of this information. One site provides the ability to determine the location’s wind design speed. Click here for the site on wind speed determination. Here is a site that will help you determine the codes that are currently used in the State of NJ. Another online tool is the “Simpson Wall Bracing Calculator“. This is a great tool that allows anyone to input the proper design information to determine the minimum required wind wall bracing necessary. Another site allows one to determine the wind speed for a specific location. This information is necessary for use in determining the minimum wall bracing.

The links contained herein are in no way an indication that these sites or manufacturer’s are better than another. It is simply a tool that may be used to assist in a residential construction project.

Other information will be added as it becomes available so please check back often.

What do I need to do to put a shed in my yard?
A construction permit may be required if the shed is over a certain square footage. Important to know is that the Zoning Department always needs to have an application for a shed. If the shed is to be greater than 100 square feet OR over 10 feet in height to the eave, then a construction permit is required.

How much will my permit cost?
The cost of a construction permit will vary greatly. Some of the subcode fees are based on item counts while others are determined by the cost of the associated work or the size of the work. Still other scopes of work have a flat rate. There is also a minimum charge per subcode.  The posted reference of the fee schedule is ONLY a reference. The posted version is ordinance 2008-40. To confirm this is the most recent version, please contact the building department at 908-369-4313.

What inspections do I need?
There are a variety of inspections required or necessary to determine if the work being done conforms to the construction code. Remember that in order to conduct these inspections in a timely manner, certain work may need to cease in order to conduct that specific inspection. Also, every effort is made to schedule your request as soon as possible however it may not be able to be scheduled for the next working day. An inspection requests received after 3:00 PM will not be scheduled for the next day. To see a list of the various types of inspections that might be necessary for your project, click here.

How do I schedule to have my work inspected?

As per the UCC, all inspections must be requested by the responsible person in charge of the work once the work is completed and ready for inspection. Simply contact the building department @ 908-369-4313, ext. 165 or 166 to request an inspection. Be sure to have the 8 digit permit number with you when you request any inspection. You may schedule inspections for Mon. through Sat. as well as Tues or Thurs. evenings. Our staff will then determine when the next available inspection day is for your request.

What do I need to do once I have passed all my final inspections?
This depends on the type of work that you obtained the permit for. There are basically 4 types of work; repair or replacement, alterations, additions, and lastly new construction.

If the work involves repair or replacement of existing components then a Certificate of Approval will be issued. This certificate will be mailed to the applicant within 10 business days once the last approved final inspection is done.

If the work involves alteration work such as a finished basement or reroof/siding, then a Certificate of Approval will be issued. Again this certificate will be mailed to the applicant typically within 10 business days from the time that the last approved final inspection is done.

If the work involves any addition or new construction, then you MUST apply for a Certificate of Occupancy after you have passed all of your final inspections. The certificate processing time is 3 to 10 business days. You must also ensure that all prior approvals have been satisfied. The prior approvals may include the Zoning/Engineering Department, Fire Safety, Board of Health, Hillsborough MUA, Somerset County Soil Conservation. Click here to download the Certificate Application Form.

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