In most cases, you’ll need to acquire a permit before the construction of your new deck can start. Building codes clearly state that the construction of decks raised 30 inches above ground level need permits, but the guidelines on decks below 30 inches are less clear-cut. There are exemptions in the International Residential Code for custom decks less than 30 inches high, provided their total area doesn’t exceed 200 square feet, and they’re not attached to the home or serve as the exit door for a house.
What if the deck you’re planning to build doesn’t qualify for an exemption? How do you apply for a permit?
The Permit Application Process
The actual application process is quite straightforward, although, like building codes, it differs depending on the location of the proposed deck. You’ll need to find the Building Inspections Department in City Hall (for those living in cities) or the inspector in charge of your area (for rural residents). If you’re having trouble finding the persons in charge, a few calls to the relevant local government offices should point you to the right person.
The relevant department will then give you a list outlining the requirements for a permit, which normally include two sets of construction plans and a site plan showing the proximity of the proposed deck to your home and its property lines as well as a completed application.
Deck Construction Plans
You’ll need to prepare two copies of scale drawings of the framing plan view of the proposed deck with the following details:
- The locations, spacing and sizes of the proposed deck’s frost footings, beams and joists
- Notes or visual details illustrating the installation of footings, guard rails, stairs and the ledger board on your proposed custom decks
- The types and grades of materials that will be used in the frame, decking and rails
- The different kinds of hardware and fasteners
A professional remodeler would normally use drafting software to create the plans, but handwritten plans on ¼-inch graph paper are accepted as well. Keep in mind that since building codes tend to vary from area to area, you may need to submit a few additional requirements, such as an elevation drawing of the proposed deck.
Your local building department requires the submission of a site plan to ensure your new deck isn’t encroaching on your neighbor’s property. The proposed deck’s distance to neighboring properties is a crucial detail. You can have a deck installer draw your proposed deck to scale and list the distances to each property line, but to do that, they’ll need a copy of your home’s property survey.
Homes built in the 1980s and the subsequent decades usually have their property surveys enclosed in their closing papers. If, however, you can’t find the property survey, you can check with your local building authority if they have a copy. If your local building authority doesn’t have a copy, they may accept a rough sketch. If not, you may have to hire a professional surveyor to draft the survey.
Fire Safety and the Distance Between Structures
While verifying your documents and processing your claims, the building department will take note of whether the proposed deck is too close to your home. There are no specific guidelines in building codes about the fire separation distance between decks and other structures. However, most contractors would agree that a distance of five feet between your home and your proposed deck is a conservative estimate. No need to worry too much about this detail though – a professional deck installer will ensure your new deck is up to code.
Let the Professionals Handle All the Permit Requirements
The application process for a permit is relatively straightforward, but obtaining the necessary documents is a bit harder. Fortunately, you won’t have to go through the trouble of looking for these documents – The Deck Store, your local professional remodeler, will take care of the permits for all our customers’ projects.
We offer a wide range of professional exterior services and only use top-of-the-line deck materials from AZEK®. To get a free estimate, call us at (701) 223-1008, or fill out our form here. We serve homeowners in Bismarck, ND, as well as the surrounding communities.