Many businesses and homeowners are drawn to metal buildings because their pre-engineered designs take a lot of the work out of planning a new structure. However, you may still need to jump through the usual hoops of getting permits and inspections even if you use a pre-engineered structure. Make sure you check on all the applicable laws and regulations regarding your new metal building before beginning any of the construction work.
Size and Use Matters
Some areas and states allow for a permit-free installation if you're just trying to add a very small storage shed. Some regulations set the maximum size as 10 feet by 10 feet, others go by the total square footage for the finished building. Most carports, even unenclosed spaces, will exceed this minimal number easily. Most metal structures will qualify for requiring both inspections and permits, but not in areas that have no established building codes or permit requirements. The only way to know what applies to your property is to check with local building authorities and code enforcement offices.
Applying for a Residential Permit
Homeowners should find it relatively easy to apply for a residential permit for adding an accessory building like a garage or carport. Whether you want a concrete slab or not, the process involves a few inspections and a little paperwork on your behalf. Most areas require homeowners to submit detailed plans of their site and the proposed building in order to secure a permit. Make sure to apply for the right permits before ordering a building or making arrangements for installation since applying for them later costs far more and could require the replacement of the building.
Adhering to a Range of Building Codes
Even if you don't plan to use your metal building as more than just a storage shed or carport, you may need to meet a wide range of building codes with your new addition. Some areas apply all the relevant residential building codes to all metal buildings, even if don't plan to use them as housing. You may need to make some modifications to your installation if this is the case in your area. Most areas will have specific reduced code requirements for accessory buildings like garages and barns, so make sure you're filling out the right paperwork when applying for a permit.
Getting a Separate Permit for the Concrete Slab
Your local code enforcement officer may require a separate inspection and permit application for the concrete slab if you choose to pour one. This is especially likely if your installation requires any grading and excavation to create sufficient space for the building. If you're hiring a local contractor to handle the concrete work, they can likely secure the permit and submit the right paperwork on your behalf. Discuss the requirements for permitting with your concrete contractor prior to paying a deposit or ordering your metal building kit.
Collecting the Information You Need for a Permit
The permit process requires a little bit more than just filling out the right forms. Most building authorities also require you to submit clear drawings and plans for your construction project before they will plan an inspection visit or approve your permits. When you choose a pre-engineered metal building, you can use the drawings provided by the manufacturer to fill out your documentation for the permit application. If drawings are needed for the site preparation and grading permits as well, you may need to hire a surveying company before you can create accurate measurements to prove you're meeting setback requirements.
Check with Your Local Building Authority
Each county, city, and state sets their own unique requirements for metal buildings. For example, Los Angeles county requires permits for all kinds of carports and metal buildings, including proof that they're located far enough away from property line setbacks. Attaching a carport to an existing home may trigger an inspection of that structure as well to verify it won't affect its safety and code compliance. Your county may have a completely different set of requirements and expectations, so check with your local building authority or code enforcement officer. If you're not sure where to start, your county's property tax office should know where to direct you for questions about local codes and other requirements.
With the right preparation and planning, no amount of permits and inspections can prevent you from building the metal building you need. Be prepared to make customizations and to adjust your designs as you find out more about local requirements.