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Deck Plans and Permits

Deck Permits and Inspections To legally build a deck, most if not all municipalities require at least a construction permit. Depending on the type of work involved, electrical, plumbing, removal and so on, your deck may require more than just a construction permit. Obtaining all the necessary permits for a deck project will always outweigh the risk of taking a chance of having an illegally or improperly built deck. Permits are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain in comparison to the work entailed by towns to process permit applications, review plans and sending out construction official to inspect projects. Most applications consist of a few simple forms to fill out, submission of a detailed deck plan and a revised property survey. Depending on where you live and work to be done, plan on spending anywhere from 40 to 300 dollars for the permit.

Deck Plans and Permits

In order to obtain a permit, a deck plan will need to be submitted to the building departments. This is usually submitted at the same time as the permit application. At a minimum, plans need to show the material size and construction specifications to build the deck. The plan provides a visual representation of the proposed deck to determine if the project is within the municipalities' regulatory guidelines for the property and will be built in accordance to applicable building codes.

Property Survey

Most permit applications require a copy of the property survey with the proposed deck drawn on it. This entails drawing the top view of the deck, including any staircases and other relevant features to the project on the survey in the same scale as the survey. The town can then view the updated survey and determine how the proposed deck will be situated on the land and if the deck is within any required property setbacks or other requirements for the property and project.

Permit Approval and Construction Time

Permit approval can be a lengthy process, perhaps best measured in weeks. Expect anywhere between 2-3 weeks for the permit to be approved. If for some reason your project requires a variance, this could add a considerable amount of time in obtaining a permit. Many planning and zoning boards meet only once a week to review vote on variances. In addition, an average size deck can take a carpenter and helper working 40 hours a week, 3-5 weeks to complete.


A deck may require as many as 3 inspections prior to the completion of the project. The town will let you know how many are required based on the project permit description. Inspectors generally need a few days notice for an inspection. Depending on your building department, you may be required to fill out a form to arrange for an inspection while others come out the same day with only a phone call. It's always a good idea to find out the prior notice needed to have an inspector come out to help avoid delays in the job.

  • Footing inspections - The inspector checks the depth and diameter of the footings prior to pouring or setting the concrete footings. This ensures that the deck will be built on adequate footings for the type of soil and regional conditions.
  • Framing inspections - Most framing inspections for decks are done during the final inspection. If the framing cannot be easily viewed at the final inspection, it may require a framing inspection during construction. This applies to many low elevated decks or ones built in-grade where the decking interferes with the inspectors' ability to properly inspect the structure.
  • The final inspection - The last inspection is usually the final inspection. The inspector will inspect the complete project to determine if the deck was built to the specifications indicated on the plan and the requirements set forth by the town. Your inspector will also most likely measures the final size of the deck and compare it to the permit application files and plans. If the deck passes the final inspection you will receive a Certificate Of Occupancy.

Certificate of Occupancy

After a deck is built and has passed all of the inspections, the town will issue a certificate of occupancy also referred to as the C.O. The certificate gives the right to occupy the deck and that it has been built in accordance to the town requirements.

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