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.
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.
We interrupt Permit Philly’s zoning guide for an important message.
In this blog we’ve been slowly progressing through the Philadelphia Zoning Code’s classification of properties (if you’d like to see the series, click here). But today we’re not going to do that: today, we’re going to talk about rezoning property in Philadelphia. Specifically, we’re going to answer the question seemingly everyone has about multifamily buildings in Philadelphia:
Can I re-zone my single-family building as a multi-family building?
Nope! Next question.
Okay; it’s a little more complicated than that. Let’s take this step by step:
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.
Welcome to Permit Philly’s Philadelphia Zoning Guide!
I was recently at a neighborhood meeting where a member of the group casually observed that the Philadelphia Code allows for an 8.5-foot-wide garage, but should really allow only a 9.5-foot-wide garage. If you are this person, you might not need this blog post. But for most of us in Philly – and especially for developers and ambitious homeowners – It’s useful to go over the uses and general Philadelphia zoning rules about buildings to get a sense of what the City does and doesn’t want. So here’s our Philadelphia zoning guide series.
First, we’ll handle the commercial buildings that also allow residential use: Commercial MiXed-use, or CMX.
What Happens After You Apply for a Philly Building Permit?
To apply for a Philly building permit, you must create a package of material – usually plans and a set of forms – to submit to the Department of Licenses and Inspections (check out our building permit overview for more on that process). L&I may not accept the package – they may take a look and decide that your plans aren’t clear enough, or that you have included sheets which don’t apply to the project. But if all the materials are in order, they’ll accept the application.
So that means you’ll get your permit, right?
Not always. Just because L&I accepts your package to review doesn’t mean that you’ll get a favorable review. Here’s a quick summary of everything that can happen to a Philly building permit application once it enters the L&I conveyor belt.
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Philadelphia Building Permits
Whether you’ve just bought your first house or are an experienced contractor, a Philadelphia building permit can be a confusing document. Not the permit itself: the process of getting the permit. Depending on the project, there might be a lot of documents required to successfully acquire a Philly building permit; and if these documents aren’t prepared in the right way, City departments reject the permit application. Because of this, Permit Philly has prepared a little guide to help you understand when building permits are needed in our city, and how to apply for them.
In our last post, we covered the basic terms and ideas of the zoning process in Philly. Now, let’s talk about the most complicated parts of the process: The Philadelphia zoning variance and special exception process.
In Philly’s zoning rules, property owners or tenants might want to use their space differently than Philly’s zoning code allows. This can be done, but only after special applications are filed, neighborhood groups review the proposal, and the Zoning Board of Adjustment approves the proposal.