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What Is a Certificate of Occupancy?

What Is a Certificate of Occupancy?

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What Is a Certificate of Occupancy?

Whether you’re opening a retail store or managing a chain of franchises in different locations, many regulations need to be met before the structure is safe for personal or public use. So, what is a certificate of occupancy, and why is this document required? In this article, you’ll learn about the critical details of this document and what role it has with construction, homeowners, and business owners alike.

What’s Included in a Certificate of Occupancy?

The details of this document will change depending on local building laws and regulations. However, the document’s requirements still have to be met for any structure to be considered suitable for occupancy, no matter public or private. Furthermore, the purpose of obtaining this document is for more than just occupancy reasons; in many places, this document could be required if someone is looking to sell the property. Below you’ll find the main reasons you may need a certificate of occupancy:

  • Location of the real estate
  • Age of the building
  • Use of space, such as a retail store versus a warehouse
  • When the original use of the property is being repurposed
  • If an individual is looking to sell the property
  • To comply with local building laws, regulations, and codes
  • Value of improvements to the commercial property

Regarding the information included in the document itself, although it may be structured differently based on jurisdiction, you can expect to find zoning information for the structure’s classification type. This will determine whether it’s commercial, residential, retail, and so on. In addition, it’s common to find details that explain that every aspect of the structure is up to local coding laws. Furthermore, zoning officials should include a thorough explanation and proof that the building is ready for occupancy.

Aside from this document acting as a checklist for occupancy, it also acts as legal protection for the individual or company involved. A certificate of occupancy serves as proof of the quality of the structure and the physical and financial safety of everyone involved. It’s also a document that shows compliance with the construction plans that were submitted to local regulators.

How to Obtain a Certificate of Occupancy

The technicalities of this process may slightly differ based on jurisdiction, but the process is relatively straightforward. For your first step, you want to get in contact with your local municipality, zoning department, or building code enforcement official, and they’ll require that you fill out an application. It’s also important to keep in mind that this document may be required before any new construction can take place in some cases. Moreover, it’s always advised to check with local officials before committing to any building project.

Once you’ve filled out an application, your request will need to go through a series of inspections that verify your project is and will be up to the local ordinances and structural codes. Furthermore, the required inspections may vary depending on the current state and type of building project you’re looking to start. In addition, some of the checks new buildings go through, such as plumbing or electrical, may come in stages to ensure construction stays in line with local laws throughout the entire process.

After inspections are completed, you should receive a detailed report outlining whether you’ve passed or not. If inspectors deem that additional repairs need to be made, they’ll provide you a list of what needs to be fixed before another inspection can take place. This can become quite costly, so it’s best to ensure everything is in order for the first inspection if possible.

What Costs are Associated With a Certificate of Occupancy?

The cost to obtain a certificate of occupancy will also vary based on jurisdiction, and in some cases, based on the need for the document, there may be no fee at all. This could happen if the document is needed for additional construction at an already permitted location. Nevertheless, there are various charges associated with the document, such as:

  • Safety permit fee
  • A fee per square foot of the building
  • Additional associated costs for occupancy inspection and paperwork

Once again, the cost of these fees can vary greatly by jurisdiction, where it could cost upwards of a couple of dollars per square foot in California, it’s possible to cost less than fifty cents per square foot in the midwest. Although obtaining a certificate of occupancy seems like a complicated process, delaying working with building officials may make the process more expensive or take longer in the long run.

There may be quite a few obstacles included with this process, but there is a temporary alternative to help you get through it. In some circumstances, you can obtain a temporary certificate of occupancy. The terms and conditions associated with this particular document will also vary based on jurisdiction, but they serve the same purpose.

If the applicant meets the criteria, this document will allow construction to continue while they solve minor issues identified by the local municipality. In the case of residential properties, this will allow families or individuals to move in while the full certificate of occupancy is obtained. Moreover, this helps builders continue with construction, as going through multiple inspections can cause massive delays if there’s a list of repairs to get through.

It’s known that in some cases, people can apply for more than one of these temporary documents to help give them time to meet the occupancy criteria. Of course, it’s vital to check with your local zoning officials before making any assumptions, as all of the information in this article references information on a national scale.

In Conclusion

It may seem like a complicated process, but if you follow your cities list of requirements for a certificate of occupancy before applying, it will end up saving you a lot of time and money. At the same time, your structure will go through multiple inspections. The requirements associated with building inspections vary from city to city, so always do your research before sending in your application. If you practice due diligence with your local zoning officials, obtaining your certificate of occupancy should be a relatively seamless experience.

What Is a Certificate of Occupancy?

What Is a Certificate of Occupancy?

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