Home Project 411: All about permits

Thinking about making some changes to your home? Wondering if what is being done on the property down the street is legal? What you do to your home affects your community. For example, build too close to a property line, a fire at either location has less distance to travel to the other. Building a fence, there are rules you need to know before you have expense.

The information below is from the city of Albuquerque’s: Planning Department, Building Safety Division, Homeowner’s Building Permit Guide, cabq.gov/planning/planning-faqs/building-safety-faqs and the Integrated Development Ordinance. The information here is not all-inclusive. When in doubt, call to ask questions. Keep notes, including the name of the person you spoke with to make future follow-up easier.

Requires a permit

Permits protect owners, residents, communities and buildings by making sure repairs and/or construction meet current building codes, standards, floodplain ordinances and construction techniques. Permits also provide a permanent record of compliance with elevation and/or retrofitting requirements, which is valuable information when selling the structure or obtaining insurance coverage.

All construction, alterations, repairs, improvements, enlargements and conversions to an existing home require a permit. Examples:

• Building a swimming pool

• Installing or raising walls, fences, or retaining walls

• Relocating existing buildings

• Installing a patio cover or porch

• Demolition

• Reworking plumbing or electrical

• Re-roofing

• PV solar systems

According to the websites, residential permits generally take 2 1/2 weeks for approval.

No permit needed

• One-story detached accessory buildings used as a tool and storage shed, play house or similar uses, provided the building area does not exceed 120 square feet.

• Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finishing work.

Types of permits

Building – A building permit is an official approval issued by the city of Albuquerque, which allows a homeowner or contractor to proceed with a new construction or property remodeling project.

Electrical – An electrical permit ensures your project is completed in compliance with the code requirements set forth and followed by the city of Albuquerque.

Plumbing/Mechanical – A plumbing/mechanical permit is needed to ensure all plumbing and mechanical permits are completed in accordance with the code requirements set forth by the city of Albuquerque.

To get a permit

Licensed contractors or homeowners must request permits for the work. It is the responsibility of the homeowner or contractor to ensure all required permits are obtained, prior to beginning work. If you are within a Homeowners’ Association (HOA), get its approval before proceeding.

You can submit your request online at cabq.gov/planning/building-safety-division/e-plan.

Post permits clearly visible from the front of the house or commercial project.

If work is done without a permit when one is required, a stop-work order can be issued. A notification letter is then issued, and the owner is given 30-45 days to comply. If compliance is not met, a final notification letter will be sent giving the owner 10 days to comply. If compliance is not met, a pre-criminal summons is issued, and the owner is given 10 business days to comply before facing court action.

What’s my zoning?

Go to the IDO look-up map and put in your address. Click on the “dot” location and a dialog box appears to the right. Click on the arrows in the box for information, including an IDO use table. cabq.maps.arcgis.com.

Adding a rental unit

With the tightened rental and housing market, you may be thinking about adding an accessory dwelling unit. Such construction would require permits. Regulations covering accessory dwelling units, with or without a kitchen, are in the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO), at ido.abc-zone.com/integrated-development-ordinance-ido.

You can use this link to search for “accessory dwelling unit” to learn more. Rules vary depending on zoning and areas of the community.

Fence height

Tons of information, including how tall a front-yard fence or wall can be, can be found in the IDO (front-yard fence is Part 14-15-5-7). The short answer is 3 feet. Requests for taller walls require the approval of a variance.

To report problems

If you believe a contractor is building without a permit or not building to code, you can file a complaint with the Building Safety Division at (505) 924-3319. All information is confidential. The address and a brief description of the work being done are required.