City of Pittsburgh Building Permits (Part I)

Before you pick up your tools, find out if your project needs a Pittsburgh building permit!

If you own real estate in the City of Pittsburgh, it’s important to know the rules and regulations surrounding building permits. The City of Pittsburgh has specific guidelines for the type of work that requires a permit on both residential and commercial buildings. It’s worth noting that the process of obtaining a building permit in Pittsburgh has been improved dramatically over the last few months. Luckily, it’s much easier to obtain a Pittsburgh building permit now because a lot of things can be done online. In today’s post, we’ll talk about the situations when it’s necessary to get a Pittsburgh building permit and when a permit is not required. We’ll also provide answers to some of the most common questions about Pittsburgh building permits.  

Pittsburgh Building Permit Questions

What is a certificate of occupancy?

A certificate of occupancy, also known as an occupancy permit, is issued by the City to verify that the building in question is being used for its intended purpose. For example, if you own a single family home that you would like to convert to a duplex, you will need to apply for an occupancy permit that states the building can be used as a legal 2-unit dwelling. In most cases, obtaining an occupancy permit is required before you can move forward in applying for a residential building permit. If you aren’t sure what the current certificate of occupancy for your building is, you can now search for it online by typing in the address of your property.

Do I need a residential or commercial permit?

It all depends on the type of building you are planning to work on. If you are planning to work on either on a single family house or on a duplex (i.e. 2-unit building), then a Pittsburgh residential building permit will be required. However, if a building that you are planning to work on consists of 3 or more units then you will need to obtain a commercial building permit. See our Part II article coming out next week on commercial building permits.  

How do I obtain a Pittsburgh residential building permit?

In order to apply for a Pittsburgh building permit, make sure you have all the required documents for your project. Once you’ve gathered all the appropriate documentation, you can submit it either through the OneStopPGH portal online, or you can take it to the OneStopPGH counter at 200 Ross St. in downtown Pittsburgh. After the application and associated documents are submitted, the City will review the application and notify the applicant of any revisions that are required. If no revisions are required, the permit will be issued. For residential building permits, the City has committed to responding within 15 business days for an initial review, and 8 days for a review of any revisions that were required.

What work does not require a permit?

Before you apply for a permit, find out if the project you are planning to undertake requires one in the first place. The City of Pittsburgh outlines a number of projects that don’t require a residential building permit. Of particular interest on this list are the following projects, which the City considers to be “finish work”:

  • Painting
  • Papering
  • Tiling
  • Carpeting
  • Cabinets
  • Countertops

When in Doubt, Call the Pittsburgh Permit Office!

If you’re not sure whether your project requires a building permit, or what type of building permit is required, it’s better to contact the City before beginning any construction work. The best way to do this is by calling them at 412-255-2175. You can also visit them in person at 200 Ross St. in downtown Pittsburgh.

If you own a rental property in Pittsburgh that requires a significant renovation, and you don’t want to go through the permit process, you may decide that you want to sell your house. If you have a project you don’t want to tackle, we can buy your property for cash. At McIntosh Management, LP, we  are experienced in working with the City on both residential and commercial construction projects. Contact us today or fill out the form the form below to receive a free, no-obligation offer on your home!

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