Information About Building Permits and Inspections

The city requires permits and inspections to ensure safe building, coordinated development, effective land use and high-quality site planning.

The alteration, demolition, construction, enlargement, movement, repair, removal or replacement of any building or structure is authorized by a permit.

How to Apply

Prepare

To learn what you will need, review the Types of Permits section below.

Homeowners that would like to do the work on their own should review and complete the Homeowner Contractor License Application and email to COBContractorLicense@bouldercolorado.gov prior to applying for a permit.

Apply via the Customer Self-Service Portal

The following application types can be submitted through the Customer Self-Service Portal (note - if you do not see your project type listed here, visit the "Apply via email" section below):

  • Roofing Replacement
  • Mobile Home Installation
  • Fire
  • Floodplain Information Request
  • HVAC/Solar Water Heater/Wood Burning
  • Electrical/Photovoltaic Solar
  • Electrical Temporary Construction Power
  • Plumbing
  • Sign
  • Fence and Wall

Apply via email

The following applications must be submitted via email:

Visit the Applications and Forms Database to find permit applications and associated checklists of items you need to submit.

View the Permit Application Guide for tips on how to submit.

Application status

Visit the Customer Self-Service Portal to follow the status of your application.

  • Log in to your account.
  • Open the Dashboard and click on “View My Permits”.
  • Click on the permit application.

View the Permit Application Guide for step-by-step instructions and status definitions.

Completion

Permits are closed once all requirements are complete, including inspections, conditions and fees. Please allow two business days for processing and for your letter of completion and/or certificate of occupancy to appear in the Customer Self-Service Portal.

Application Process

P&DS Permit Process Graphic
P&DS Permit Process Graphic

Expand the image.

Review times vary according to the scope of the project and are dependent upon the clarity and completeness of submitted materials. Current processing times.

When a permit is needed

If your project does not appear in the drop-down list below, you will need to apply for a permit. 

While a project may be exempt from permitting it must still meet all relevant building, zoning and engineering code requirements. Additional approvals may be required if the property is located within a floodplain, wetland,historic district or has been designated as an individual landmark. 

General work that does not require a permit:

  • Finish work such as painting, papering, flooring, carpeting, tiling (outside of shower enclosure), cabinets, countertops
  • Minor drywall repairs that are less than one sheet or 32 square feet
  • One story sheds that are accessory to a residential structure that are,
    • no more than 80 square feet in area
    • no greater than ten feet in height and
    • not served utilities (electric, plumbing, heat or A/C)
  • Fences not over 7 feet high
  • Flat work such as private sidewalks, patios and driveways that is not
    • more than 30 inches above grade
    • located over any basement or story below or
    • part of an accessible route
  • Window replacement in low-rise residential buildings that are three stories or less in height
  • Playground equipment accessory to detached one- and two-family living units
  • Siding replacement on low-rise residential buildings that are three stories or less in height (except for stucco systems)
  • Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a one- and two- family living units which are
    • less than 24 inches deep
    • do not exceed 5,000 gallons, and
    • are installed entirely above ground
  • Retaining walls which are not over 3 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II, or III-A flammable liquids
  • Building energy efficiency components that
    • are required as part of a city energy efficiency program;
    • do not include any electrical, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment, solar photovoltaic and solar hot water heating systems; and
    • are inspected by a HERS rater (a Home Energy Rating System rater certified through Residential Energy Services Network) or a city licensed energy inspector as defined in Chapter 4-4, "Building Contractor License," B.R.C. 1981

Electrical:

  • Minor repair and maintenance work, including but not limited to replacement of lamps, connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles.

Gas:

  • Portable heating appliances
  • Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe.

Mechanical:

  • Portable systems such as heating appliance, cooling unit, evaporative cooler, or ventilation equipment.
  • Replacement of any part which does not alter an approval or listing or make any appliance or equipment unsafe.

Plumbing:

  • The stopping of leaks in drains, water, soil, waste, or vent pipe; provided, however, that if any concealed trap, drain pipe, water, soil, waste, or vent pipe becomes defective and it becomes necessary to remove and replace the same with new material, such work shall be considered as new work and a permit shall be obtained and inspection made as provided in this code.
  • The clearing of stoppages or the repairing of leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures.
  • The replacement of water closets, provided such repairs do not involve or require the replacement or rearrangement of valves or pipes.

Types of permits

A permit will be required if the structure of building will be impacted. The type of permit required will depend upon the proposed scope of work and the type of structure.

Click on the drop-down list below for more information about types of permits.

Residential Building Permit Application

  • One family living unit (including single family homes)
  • Two family living unit
  • Townhomes – no more than three stories in height above grade with a private means of entry
    • A one-family living unit constructed in a group of three or more attached units in which each unit extends from foundation to roof and with a yard or public way on not less than two sides
  • Accessory structures such as garages, shed, studios and detached accessory dwelling units associated with residential buildings

Multi-Family and Non-Residential Building Permit Application

  • Multi-family buildings, including but not limited to condominiums, apartments, sororities/fraternities, hotels and congregate living facilities
  • Non-residential or commercial buildings, including, but not limited to offices, retail spaces and restaurants
  • Accessory structures associated with multi-family or non-residential buildings including but not limited to detached garages, carports and sheds

Single Trade Permit: If the scope of work includes only one area, a single trade permit will be required.

Historic District

All exterior changes to a property designated as an individual landmark or located within a historic district require additional review and approval through a Landmark Alteration Certificate (LAC) prior to permit application.

Inspections

Learn about inspections

All permits require an inspection. Learn how to find which inspections are required, how to schedule an inspection and tips for a successful inspection below.

Request an Inspection

  • Log in to the Customer Self-Service Portal.
  • Click on the "Search" button in the black menu bar.
  • Type the permit number exactly how it’s written and hit "Search".
  • The results will return with the permit number highlighted in yellow. Click on the permit number.
  • The page defaults on the "Summary" tab; click on the "Inspections" tab. There will be boxes in the "Action" column that can be checked off to request the inspections. Once at least one of the boxes is checked, the "Request Inspection" button will be enabled.
  • Follow the prompts to request the inspection. If a day on the calendar is grayed out, it is no longer available to be requested and a different day must be selected.

Inspection Tips

Building Inspections are performed between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., from Monday to Friday.

  • Check the Customer Self-Service Portal on the morning of your inspection for your inspector's name. Assigned inspectors are subject to change until 7 a.m. on the inspection day.
  • Only homeowners may request an a.m or p.m. inspection. Indicate this in the notes section while scheduling your inspection and include a contact name and phone number.
  • If you have a special request, or if a specific two-hour time window is needed, call (do not text) the inspector and leave a voicemail from 7 to 8:30 a.m. on the day of your inspection. While every effort will be made to accommodate special requests, they cannot be guaranteed.
  • Provide a printed copy of the approved city-stamped plans. Failure to do so may result in delayed inspections.

    • To do this, log-in to the Customer Self-Service Portal and find the case number under "Permits" on the "Dashboard". Plans can be found under "Attachments".

  • Review the roof inspection process before scheduling a roof inspection.

  • Review the state required electrical and plumbing contemporaneous review process prior to your inspection. The city follows state guidelines for contemporaneous reviews to support electrical and plumbing licensure and apprenticeship requirements. Contractor information may be requested at any time depending on your permit type and scope of work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Visit the Customer Self-Service Portal to follow the status of your application.

  1. Log in to your account.
  2. Open the Dashboard and click on “View My Permits”.
  3. Click on the permit application.

View the Permit Application Guide for step-by-step instructions and status definitions.

  • Refer to the checklist that corresponds to your application in the Application and Forms Database
  • Provide all required materials and information
  • Ensure that information is complete, accurate, and meet all the code requirements
  • Respond to staff requests for additional or missing information in a timely manner

Refer to the city’s Contractor Licensing website for additional information about when a licensed contractor is required.

A homeowner contractor permit may be issued to a property owner who personally performs work on his or her own residence that is not intended for rent or resale and is not generally open to the public. If the homeowner does not intend to perform all of the work, licensed subcontractors are required.

A professional engineer or architect registered in the State of Colorado shall prepare the plans and specifications for and observe the construction of all buildings except for the following:

  • Single family homes intended solely for private use, occupancy, or resale, including commonly associated accessory buildings;
  • Farm buildings and buildings for the marketing, storage, or processing of farm products;
  • Minor additions, alterations, or repairs to the above buildings that do not cause the completed buildings to exceed the applicable limitations; or
  • Nonstructural alterations of any nature to any building if such alterations do not affect the safety of the building.

Drawings and specifications for footings and foundations shall bear the seal and signature of a professional engineer or architect registered in Colorado and be designed as specified in Chapter 18 of the building code for all occupancies.

Exceptions:

  • Detached structures not intended for human occupancy;
  • Additions to existing detached dwellings not exceeding 150 square feet.

Any structural modification to any building in the City of Boulder will require plans to be prepared by a structural engineer licensed in the state of Colorado.

Acceptable forms of stamps and signatures from a licensed professional are determined by the state licensing boards for architects and engineers. The city will accept any form of stamp and signature that is deemed valid by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.

If your application requires one of the following approvals, it must be obtained before submitting a building permit application:

  • Land Use Review
  • Technical Document Review
  • Administrative Review
  • Accessory Dwelling Unit Review
  • Landmark Alteration Certificate

The following permit applications may be reviewed in tandem with a building permit application:

  • Floodplain Development Permit
  • Right-of-Way Permit
  • Accessory Structure Permit (detached garage or swimming pool)
  • Retaining Wall Permit

Use the checklists found on the city’s Applications and Forms Database; select the form that most closely addresses the proposed scope of work.

Within these checklists are links to the required forms and guidelines on how to prepare an application submittal package.

Use the checklist found in the city’s Applications and Forms Database titled Multi-family and Non-residential Building Permit Checklist to prepare your application package.

Fees can be estimated using the Schedule of Fees. A typical residential interior remodel will include the following fees:

  • Building Plan Check
  • Building Permit
  • Electrical Permit
  • Mechanical Permit
  • Plumbing Permit
  • City and County Sales and Use Taxes

Please note that this is not an all-inclusive list, and if the scope includes additional work then additional fees will be assessed.

Contacts may be added to permits through the Customer Self Service portal using the instructions below.

  1. Log into your account
  2. Open the "Dashboard"
  3. Click on "View My Permits"
  4. Click on the permit application
  5. Open permit in CSS portal, this will open the permit with a row of tabs
  6. Click on the “Contacts” tab
  7. Click on the “Add Contact” button on left side of screen
  8. Select contact type in the drop down labeled “Add Contact As”
  9. Search by “Last name” or “Company name” or “Email”
  10. Click “Add”

The permit placard and the approved plans for this application, including the City Approval Stamp may be accessed through the Customer Self Service portal using the instructions below..

  1. Log in to your account
  2. Open the "Dashboard"
  3. Click on "View My Permits"
  4. Click on the permit application
  5. Click on the "Attachments" tab of your permit to view the available documents. Find the PDS - Permit Placard, PDS - Approval Conditions and approved plan set(s)
  6. Download the files
  7. The permit placard and approval plans must be printed and available for review by the inspector on site

In some cases, documentation is required prior to requesting an inspection or issuance of a certificate of occupancy. If you receive a server error message or the inspection description identifies a prerequisite approval, visit the Customer Self Service portal and follow the instructions below.

  1. Log in to your account
  2. Open the "Dashboard"
  3. Click on "View My Permits"
  4. Click on the “Attachments
  5. View the "Approval Conditions" document to determine what documentation is required
  6. Make sure that your document is named according to the File Naming Conventions available in the Online Permit Application Guide
  7. Upload the document to “Attachments” tab of the permit. (Not sure how to upload a document? Our How-To Video can help!)
  8. Request the inspection in the “Inspections” tab of the permit. (This step will notify the reviewer that your document is ready for review, it is not necessary to contact them directly)
  9. Please allow three days for processing

  • Application – If an application for a permit has not been issued within 180 calendar days from the day of initial application, the application will expire, unless the application has been pursed in good faith
    • Progress shall be demonstrated through application resubmittal addressing reviewer comments
  • Commencement of Construction - If for any reason the work authorized by a permit has not commenced within 180 calendar days after issuance, or if the work authorized is suspended or abandoned for a period of 180 calendar days after the time the work has commenced, the permit will expire.
    • Progress shall be demonstrated through inspection
  • Construction Completion Work authorized by a permit must be completed and approved for occupancy within three years from the date the permit was issued.
  • Extension Requests – Extension of the 180-day limit may be requested by contacting the Chief Building Official at 303-441-1880, or submitting a request to PDSpermitadmin@bouldercolorado.gov.
    • The extension must be requested before the application/permit expires.
  • Permit Reinstatement - If the permit has expired and you wish to complete the proposed project, you must start over by following the instructions in the How do I submit an initial application? section of the Online Permit Application Guide
  • Renewal Permit Fees - The permit fee for renewals may be prorated based on the amount of work completed and approved under the previous permit.

Please visit the Codes and Regulations webpage for a list of all currently adopted codes in the City of Boulder.

Local amendments to the adopted building codes can be found in the Boulder Municipal Code. Specifically, the climatic and geographic design criteria are as follows:

  • Ground Snow Load = 40 pounds per square foot
  • Three-second wind gust velocity = 150 mph east of Broadway, 165 mph west of Broadway
  • Topographic effects = Yes
  • Special wind region = Yes
  • Windborne debris zone = No
  • Seismic Design Category = B
  • Weathering = severe
  • Frost line depth = 32 inches
  • Termite = slight
  • Decay = none to slight
  • Winter Design Temp = 2 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Ice barrier underlayment required = NO
  • Flood Hazards = See Sections 9-3-3 through 9-3-9, B.R.C. 1981
  • Air freezing index = 459
  • Mean annual temp = 52.1

Fences not over 7 feet tall are exempt from building permit requirements. However, if the fence will be located in a floodplain, wetland, will be constructed in an historic district or on a property designated as an individual landmark, other processes are required before the fence can be built.

A landmark alteration certificate is required to build or alter fences constructed in an Historic District or on a property designated as an individual landmark.

Regardless of whether a permit is required, fences must be a minimum of 18” from public sidewalks and cannot obstruct site triangles. Please refer to the Boulder Municipal Code for fencing regulations.

Asbestos testing triggers are as follows:

  • Residential Projects –32 sf of disturbed surfaces (walls, ceilings, floor), 50 linear feet of disturbed pipes, or 55 gallon drum in volume of waste produced;
  • Commercial Projects – 160 sf of disturbed surfaces (walls, ceilings, floors), 260 linear feet of disturbed pipes, or 55 gallon drum in volume of waste produced.

Previously the Boulder County Health Department regulated asbestos testing. The regulation of testing is now part of the building permitting process.

Full Structure Demolition - If testing reflects that there are asbestos containing materials that need to be removed, we will need a copy of the state issued demolition approval notice (which tells us that the asbestos has been removed).

All other scopes of work –

If testing reflects that there are asbestos containing materials that need to be removed, we will need a copy of an asbestos inspection report prepared by a certified inspector or the state issued demolition approval notice.

If a project proposes the addition plumbing fixtures, it may be necessary to increase the size of the water meter in order to handle the additional demand on the infrastructure associated with this addition. The Water and Wastewater PIF Worksheet can help determine whether or not a project will trigger a water meter to be upsized. Follow the instructions in Step 2 on page 1 of the worksheet to complete page 4 of the worksheet. The sum from column G on page 4 corresponds with the Maximum Fixture Unit Count values in the middle column of the table on page 3. The required meter size is listed in the left-hand column titled Water Meter Size.

Most single-family homes have 3/4” taps and some older properties have 5/8” meters. To check meter size, refer to the property’s water utility bill.

A soils report is required for all new structures and for work on buildings that include additions to, or significant alterations of existing foundations for properties with steep slope concerns or soils with mass movement potential.

To determine if the property has soils with mass movement potential, as designated by the City of Boulder, visit emaplink.

  1. Enter the property address in the search bar at the top of the page, this will zoom to the property
  2. Check the box next to the “Geologic Development Constraints” layer
  3. Click the arrow next to the check box, this will expand the legend for this layer to help identify the geological constraint category
  4. If the property is located within an area of potential mass movement a soils report will be required
  5. In addition to areas of mass movement, a soil report will be required for proposed development on a property with a slope of 15 percent or greater.

If a soils report is required, a grading and drainage plan may also be necessary. Please refer to “Does the project require a grading and drainage plan?” below.

For properties with significant slope concerns or soils with mass movement, a grading and drainage plan designed by a Colorado licensed Professional Engineer must be provided for all new structures, horizontal expansions of existing structures and proposals that modify the existing grade of the property. A grading plan may also be required to ensure that the proposed development will not pose a hazard to persons, surrounding property, the public right of way or other public improvements.

To determine if the property has soils with mass movement potential, as designated by the City of Boulder, visit emaplink.

  1. Enter the property address in the search bar at the top of the page, this will zoom to the property
  2. Check the box next to the “Geologic Development Constraints” layer
  3. Click the arrow next to the check box, this will expand the legend for this layer to help identify the geological constraint category
  4. If the property is located within an area of potential mass movement a soils report will be required

In addition to areas of mass movement, a grading and drainage plan will be required for proposed development on a property with a slope of 15 percent or greater.

If a grading and drainage plan is required, a soils report may also be necessary. Please refer to “Does the project require a soils report?” above.

Please review the Structure Protection Plan on the Wildland Fire webpage to determine if the property is located within the urban interface zone and is subject to the ignition-resistant construction and material requirements of the International Wildland-Urban Interface Code.

Demolition of a structure that is not historically designated, but is over 50 years old requires Historic Preservation Demolition Review. This review is separate from the Demolition Permit Application to streamline the application and reduce confusion around the two processes. Refer to the Boulder County Assessor’s Property Search to determine the year of construction for the building.

Demolition means an act or process which removes one or more of the following.

  1. 50 percent or more of the roof area as measured in plan view;
  2. 50 percent or more of the exterior walls of a building as measured contiguously around the "building coverage" as defined in section 9-16-1 B.R.C.; or
  3. Any exterior wall facing a public street, but not an act or process which removes an exterior wall facing an alley.

Refer to the definition in Boulder Municipal Code for example diagrams.

Connect with a professional

Consult a licensed professional to understand how requirements could impact your potential project:

  • Property purchase – Realtor
  • Proposed modifications to a property – Architect or Design Professional
  • Legal documents or property rights – Attorney
  • Property boundaries, survey or elevation certificate (FEMA) – Surveyor
  • Contractor