When is a permit required?

A permit is required when work is done on a building or structure, or the systems serving the structure (electrical, mechanical/gas, and plumbing. Some examples of projects requiring a permit are (applies to residential and commercial):

New construction

  • Accessory structures
    • Detached garage
    • Carport (including metal pre-built)
  • Workshop or storage building/shed
  • Pool house
  • Pergola

Existing Construction

  • Renovations and remodels: residential and commercial
  • Change in Occupancy for a commercial use
  • Enclosing an existing covered porch, attached carport, or screen porch
  • Replacement windows
  • Vinyl siding that is newly applied or is replaced (changed out)
  • Porch cover over slab or deck
  • Finishing an attic
  • Additions to any structure
  • Attached garage
  • Sunroom
  • Screen porch
  • Electrical, mechanical/gas, and plumbing work
    • Installing or replacing a furnace or air conditioner
    • Installing gas lines for a gas fireplace or a gas stove
    • Installing or replacing a hot water heater (including tankless water heaters)
    • Changing out an electrical panel (electrical upgrade)
    • Moving receptacles
    • Re-wiring
    • Electrical service for solar panels
  • Demolition of an existing structure
  • Adding a detached or attached deck to a house
  • Swimming pool

Please call the Building Department at 256-772-5644 if you have questions about whether a permit is required for a construction project. 

What kinds of projects DO NOT require a building permit?

Below is a list of some examples of projects that do not require a permit:

  1. Replacement of non-structural, cosmetic elements such as floor and wall coverings, cabinets and counter-tops
  2. Constructing a driveway or parking pad
  3. Constructing sidewalks and grade level patios
  4. Accessory buildings/sheds that are 200 square feet or smaller in size.

Please call the Building Department at 256-772-5644 if you have questions about whether a permit is required for a construction project. 

What information needs to be included in house plans?

Please include a site plan, all four elevations, a foundation plan, floor plans, an electrical plan, and a wall section. Please call the Building Department at 256-772-5644 if you need further information. 

How do I find out what my setbacks are?

Please contact the Planning Department at 256-772-5630 for setback requirements. 

Can I schedule a specific time for an inspection with the Building Inspections Division?

The majority of time, we are unable to schedule specific times for an inspection. The number, type, and location of inspection, plus staff level dictate daily how we arrange our inspection schedule. However, there are occasions when it is necessary for us to arrange a specific time to conduct an inspection. These are done on a case by case basis and arranged by the staff and Building Official. 

Is a contractor or someone with a specialty license required to get a City business license?

Yes. Any person who does any type of construction in the City of Madison for profit is required to obtain a business license prior to doing work and, if necessary, obtain a permit. Please contact the Revenue Department at 256-772-5654 for questions about business licensing. 

How long is a building permit valid?

An issued building permit is null and void if authorized construction is not commenced within 6 months of the issue date, or if construction is suspended/abandoned for 6 months after commencement. 

What kinds of projects require a plumbing permit?

Moving plumbing fixtures (such as rearranging where the shower and toilet are in bathroom) and/or changing out a water heater require a plumbing permit. A permit is not required for changing out plumbing fixtures, for example, a new sink installed in same place where the old sink was located. 

Is a permit required to add a shed or storage building to my property? Are there any size restrictions or setback requirements?

A shed or storage building (pre-built or built on site) that is larger than 200 square feet requires a building permit. First, please contact the Planning Department at 256-772-5630 to ask about setback requirements for the proposed structure and to check if the property where the shed/storage building is to be placed or built is in an historic or overlay district and could possible require Planning approval before construction. We also recommend that, if applicable, residential property owners check with their Homeowners’ Association for any possible covenant restrictions, such as type or style of storage building required, when planning for a construction project. Please note that contractors must have a valid state license and a current City of Madison business license to build or place any size pre-built shed/storage building in the city limits. 

What height fence do I need to have around a pool?

The top of the fence should be at least 48” above grade measured on the side of the fence that faces away from the swimming pool.