Philadelphia Permits and Coronavirus: The Basics

NOTE: This post was written on Tuesday, March 17th before Governor Tom Wolf shut down all construction in Pennsylvania on March 19th, and before construction was allowed to resume in May 2020. If you’re looking for the current state of the COVID-19 shutdown in Philly, as it relates to permits and construction, please see this article.

Hey Philly! Quite a week we’re having. On Friday, March 12th, the City’s permit center closed for the installation of a new software system. On Monday, March 16th, 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!

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Philadelphia Building Permits

Philadelphia building permit

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.

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Zoning or Use Variance

Philadelphia zoning variance

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.

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