Probably the most important step in the permit process is the submittal and review of building plans. Plans are detailed written documents describing the scope of your project.
Such plans are important because they:
You can prepare your own plans or have them prepared for you by a contractor or a drafting service. Plans must be detailed and neatly drawn to a useable scale. (A common scale for floor plans and building plans is ¼ inch to 1 foot.) It is helpful if each page identifies the address of the project as well as the owner's name. For smaller projects, you can use 8.5 inch by 11 inch paper.
If your project is very complex, you may find it advantageous to hire a professional designer to assist you. Also, if your design involves complicated framing techniques or the use of steel I-beams, for example, you may be required to verify that the designs meet code as a part of the plan review process. The Inspections Department may require that a licensed engineer provide this verification.
Typical residential plans include a site plan (decks, additions, and garages only), foundation plans, floor plans with window schedule, cross sections, and elevations. The following is a description of what should be included on various portions of the plans.
The site plan is a scale drawing of the lot showing the location of each building on the lot. The new construction should be clearly identified on the site plan. The site plan should also indicate:
Foundation plans indicate the path and location of the footings and general notes on the foundation design. They should be fully dimensioned.
An elevation plan is a view of the building, as one would see it from each side of the building. Elevations help to show:
Floor plans should be submitted for each floor affected by a building project. The floor plan should show:
A window schedule should be provided with the floor plans. The schedule should indicate:
Cross sections show a view through the building's framework from foundation to the peak of the roof. Multiple cross sections may be necessary to portray the various work proposed. Cross sections should show:
Descriptive notes may be included to address specific issues such as treated plates, header sizes, and fastener schedules.
When your plans are finished, submit two sets to the City. (The City retains one set, the other set will be returned to the permit applicant with any corrections noted.)
A staff member will review the plans to determine if the proposed work complies with the building code. The goal is to uncover potential problem areas while the project is still on paper and save you costly corrections later.
Once your plans are reviewed and approved, it is very important that you do not change the plans without prior approval of the Inspections Department. If you change the plans, you run the risk of code violations and negate the purpose of having the plans reviewed in the first place.