How to Get a Building Permit

For general information about Denver’s permit process:

  1. Go to http://DenverGov.Org/.
  2. Click on A-Z Departments and Services.
  3. In A-Z, click on “building permits” at the top of the alphabetical list.
  4. When this opens, click on Home Projects or Commercial Projects if you have a store front or some similar project.
  5. Homes will show you a dropdown menu. Click “building/expanding a home”.
  6. When this opens, click on any one of the choices which applies to you.
  7. For instance, if you click on “new home construction”, you see a group of 5 menus under “help me get started”. All these menus show you detailed information about the process. Under normal circumstances, the architect will resolve most of these items for you.

Once you have decided to build, here’s the process and how it works.

  1. You sign a contract with an architect, a surveyor, and a soils engineer if needed. Refer to my sections about soils and surveys.
  2. You meet with the architect and develop a set of drawings for your project. Refer to my sections about “how to begin” and “how zoning works” to see the details about the development of your design.
  3. During the design process, it’s pretty common to meet with the review staff at the building department. They can help us interpret the code and generally make rulings which can affect the direction our design takes.
    1. In extreme cases, we can submit your project for a “zoning only” review. This process takes a few weeks but we get a written opinion about the project feasibility. In this case, it’s common for the review staff to present the issues to senior staff and get their opinions.
    2. This is also the period of time when we can present our project to the various departments shown in item 6 in the section above.
  4. The type of information shown on the drawings shows the physical shape, structure, and construction of the project. Also, shown is any information required to build and get construction bids. Normally, finishing details such as carpet brands, cabinet configurations, and ceramic tile selections are not included. For a residence, electrical and mechanical drawings are also not included.
  5. These drawings are then “logged-in” at the building department. This process is the submittal of stamped drawings to the review staff. When log-in occurs, our project receives a receipt which shows a log number, the payment(s) due, and an estimated review completion date. Also, we receive a project check list which shows any outstanding information required for final processing. If the drawings are missing key information, they will not be logged.
  6. Concurrently, we make application for a wastewater permit. This process is much faster and simpler and can be done entirely on line. Refer to the section about waste water permits for more detail.
  7. After a period of time, 60-90 days in the current environment, we will receive an email requiring clarifications and/or additional information to be added. This is normally accomplished in a few days and the drawings are resubmitted. After waiting for a week or so, the drawings are approved. When the final fees are paid, a permit is issued to a contractor who is registered with the building department. If the project is a personal residence, the home-owner can be the contractor. This is done by passing some tests with the building department and signing up as the general contractor for your house.

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the above. I can usually answer an email within 24 hours. If you are in a hurry, call me at 303.831.4455.

Steve Culbertson