NOTE: This post was written on Tuesday, March 17th before Governor Tom Wolf shut down all construction in Pennsylvania on March 19th. Everything in this article about the operation of Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections remains true as of March 20th: You can still get permits, and Permit Philly will still process applications. However, construction sites are shut down for now by state, not local, order. Read the list of all shuttered businesses here.
Hey Philly! Quite a week we’re having. On Friday, the City’s permit center closed for the installation of a new software system. On Monday, the City shut down all of its own non-essential functions and shuttered non-essential businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The permit center in the Municipal Services Building and the district offices are closed to the public till at least the 27th. Despite all this, remote work and construction are both exempted from this order, [UPDATE: this order was issued before the statewide shutdown of construction sites] so we can still process Philadelphia permits during coronavirus!
This was written shortly before L&I closed its permit center and review boards due to the coronavirus outbreak. For an update on the situation, please see here.
If you’ve read this blog, you might have marveled at the complexity of Philadelphia permits. Maybe not the way that you might marvel at a sunrise, but definitely the way you gawk at a the 76 interchange with the Vine Street Expressway at rush hour: there’s a lot happening, very slowly, in a creaky system designed decades ago, and everyone involved is a little testy. And even though there’s always renovation, big problems in the system are never solved. In the Philly permit system, one of the glaring problems is that you can’t submit applications online. But that’s changing: finally, after literal years of delay and false starts (this really is like highway construction, now that I think about it), Philadelphia permits are going online.
Continue reading “Philadelphia Permits Go Online!”
of the weirdest parts of this job is that I can’t give a simple
answer to one of the questions everyone asks: How much does a
Philadelphia permit cost?
it stands to reason that the City of Philadelphia would charge
different fees for different permits – you wouldn’t want a
plumbing permit in a rowhome to cost the same as the electrical
for one of the Comcast towers. So you might think that there are
different permit fees for each zoning classification: one for
and another for residential
Continue reading “How Much Does a Philadelphia Permit Cost?”
Last month, Eleena de Lisser invited me (Brett)
on her show – the Jumpstart
Philly Real Estate Radio Show – to talk
permits! Permit heads and paperwork junkies, I see you: this is
everything you ever wanted to know about Philadelphia permitting,
Inspections, permit violations, and the exact turning radius
allowed for a vehicle crossing a curb cut in a residential lot!
(It didn’t get that technical.)
Eleena asked me about Permit Philly – how it started, how I started
working in permits despite a background in music, and what services
Permit Philly provides to those sailing the dark, repetitive waters
of Philadelphia permitting. We talked a little about the permitting
process, and touched on building
to Philadelphia’s building codes earlier this year, zoning
permits, and variances.
Eleena is a great host, and you should check out her show! Don’t
worry: it comes in the form of a podcast.
She has a million interesting guests, and also me! Give the episode
a listen, then read more about Philadelphia permitting in the Permit
Philly blog – and when you’re sick of that, listen to some
more of the Jumpstart Philly Real Estate Radio Show, or just check
Find our episode right
here, or on Apple
Podcasts or Google
If you hang out with developers and architects in Philly, you’ll probably pick up their vibe these days: severe stress. Why? Because on April 1st, we get a slew of official changes to the Philadelphia building codes. Yep, the city of Philadelphia will switch over to the 2018 International Building Code for non-residential construction, and the 2015 International Residential Code for residential construction. All new zoning permit and building permit applications will be reviewed under the standards of the 2018 IBC and 2015 IRC. This is probably going to be a mess: plans drawn up under the previous code regime are still under review, and architects and developers may have drafted plans for work under the old codes – only to find that, as of April 1, those plans aren’t up to date.
But it doesn’t have to be a catastrophe! Prepare now for the changes to the
Philadelphia building codes, and it’ll go off without a hitch. These are the four things you need to know
about the upcoming changes to the building code. (Exclamation points for appropriate dramatic
Continue reading “Four Things to Know About the Building Code Changes in Philly”
Happy New Year! Permit Philly hopes everyone has recovered from the Mummer apocalypse and a month of eggnog. Since we have a brand-new year on our hands, I thought it would be a good idea to review what’s changed in Philadelphia permits over the last year, and explain how the changes affect you. So here are the top five things to know about Philly permits in 2019.
Continue reading “Top Five Things to Know About Philly Permits in 2019”
The City of Philadelphia can be a cruel mistress. When filing permits, it’s common to be told that the thing you’ve done 176 times needs to be laid out a different way the 177th time – but then, on the 178th time, to go back to the regular way. Sometimes, the way the application process works depends on which staffer is on lunch. This is life on the mean streets of 1401 JFK Boulevard.
But every now and again, the City smiles upon us all, and cuts away some of its own red tape. It has recently cut some tape around its troubled sign permits by creating what we in the permit game have previously only dreamt of: EZ sign permits.
Continue reading “EZ Sign Permit”
Contractors fear them. Old real estate brokers shiver at their mention. Property owners try to pretend they don’t exist, though those property owners also feel a chill in their spines. In much the same way Old Nan warned Bran of the White Walkers, experienced Philadelphia developers and homeowners warn newcomers of that greatest of terrors: a Philadelphia Code violation.
When Philly’s Department of Licenses and Inspections finds a property illegally used or under unlawful construction – think building a house without a permit, or opening a restaurant without a food license – L&I issues a “notice of violation and order.” This notice should, according to the Code, be a written document which tells the owner of the property the nature of the Philadelphia Code violation, what can be done to address the violation, and how long the owner has to fix the problem.
These things are terrifying: if L&I decides that the owner isn’t complying with the Philadelphia Code violation notice, L&I can shut down operations at the property. It can also take the owner or operator responsible to court to force them to address the problem or shut down the project. And to be clear, this includes businesses that are already up and running: the Philadelphia Code says specifically that “the premises shall be vacated of all employees, patrons and occupants” once a Cease Operations Order is in effect.
If you want to argue your case in court, or parse exactly what counts as a violation, you will need a lawyer – and Permit Philly is happy to recommend some! But if you want to just comply with the City’s order and get it over with, here’s how to make sense of a Philadelphia Code violation on your property – and the steps to clear it up.
Continue reading “Philadelphia Code Violation”
Realtors ask me a lot of questions about permits. They want to know what they’re allowed to do with a property in Philly, how to get a legal construction project off the ground, and how to get rental licenses (so many rental licenses). Some of these questions are specific to one project. But some apply to almost any property in the City of Philadelphia. I’ve culled the most common questions and areas of interest to give you the top five things every realtor should know about Philly permits.
Continue reading “Top Five Things Realtors Should Know About Philly Permits”
There’s a very important phrase in Philly’s Department of Licenses and Inspections literature that doesn’t mean much to anyone outside of development in Philadelphia: prerequisite approval. So today, Permit Philly is going to answer some questions about this process.
Continue reading “Prerequisite Approvals”