This was written shortly before L&I closed its permit center and review boards on March 16th, 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak. For an update on this situation and other permit regulations, please see our blog 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!”
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”
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”
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”
The City of Philadelphia offers a type of building, electrical, and plumbing permit called an EZ Permit. This is because it’s easier to get than a normal permit (don’t look at me like that – I’m not in charge of naming this stuff). Philadelphia EZ Permits are the source of a lot of hope and a lot of confusion for homeowners and developers. In this post, we’re going to try to clear some of the mud off the Philadelphia EZ Permit.
Continue reading “Philadelphia EZ Permits”
The most common question I get here at Permit Philly is, “What permits do I need to build this?” As documented in our blog, Philadelphia has a dense administrative system that might require you to get a lot of permits. “It depends on the project,” is the answer I usually give. But people don’t just want to know the specific permit they need: they want a conceptual picture of the permitting system. A Philadelphia building permit checklist.
And wouldn’t you know it: there is a Philadelphia building permit checklist, made by the City itself. You can find it right here.
But before you dive into it, let’s give you a companion piece: an overhead view of the permitting maze in Philly.
Continue reading “Philadelphia Building Permit Checklist”
You’re ready to open a restaurant in Philadelphia. You have everything you need: a great building, all the right equipment on order, a dedicated team, and some amazing recipes. Now you just need to get a food license from the City of Philadelphia. Is that just one form? Maybe a little inspection?
Not quite. While you do need an inspection from the Health Department to operate a restaurant, and there is a simple form that says “Food License,” actually getting complete approval to open a restaurant in Philadelphia can be a long and complicated journey. As Philly Health Commissioner Thomas Farley once said, “The night is dark and full of terrors.”
Okay, maybe he didn’t actually say that. But getting officially certified to open a restaurant in Philadelphia can be a nightmare if you don’t know what you’re in for. Fear not! Permit Philly is here to break down the process for you.
Continue reading “How to Open a Restaurant in Philadelphia”
Zoning Guide to the Philadelphia Sign Permit
Welcome back to Permit Philly’s Philadelphia zoning guide! In this series, we’ve covered commercial zoning in Philadelphia, single-family residential zoning, multi-family residential zoning, and that sweet sweet hipster zoning. Now we’re going to talk about the Philadelphia sign permit. Warning: this story features graphic descriptions of bureaucracy.
Continue reading “Zoning Guide: Philadelphia Sign Permits”
Welcome to Permit Philly’s RSA Zoning Guide!
If you’d like to see the other parts of this series, click here.
Hello again! After last week’s discussion of commercial zoning in Philly, it’s time for some lighter reading in our Philadelphia zoning guide: residential zoning! Specifically: RSA zoning districts!
I can feel your excitement.
But this stuff is important, because most of Philly is zoned residential. Most of the zoning or permitting cases I’ve worked on involve a homeowner asking, “Can I do with my house?”
You are more than welcome to contact Permit Philly to ask that or any other question. But in the meantime, here are some answers to your essential concerns about residential zoning – specifically, Philly’s RSA zoning classification.
Continue reading “Philadelphia Zoning Guide: RSA Zoning”