Randy Cunningham, Interim Director
City of Huntsville
Building Inspection Department
320 Fountain Circle
Huntsville, AL 35801
The Inspection Department Enforces Building Codes and Zoning Ordinances for the City of Huntsville.
The goal of the Inspection Division of the City of Huntsville is to provide protection for the health, safety and welfare of the general public in relation to the use and occupancy of structures by enforcement of adopted Building Codes, to protect the value and character of neighborhoods by enforcement of Zoning Ordinances and to protect the general public from abuse by unlicensed Contractors and sub-contractors by enforcement of Contractor Licensing Laws.
NEW CONSTRUCTION AND ADDITIONS
1. Footing Inspections: Inspections are required for setbacks, footing depth and widths, and steel Rebar.
2. Foundation Inspections: Made after the grading of the crawl space for drainage, construction of piers, placement of 4-inch drain line, and location and spacing of anchor bolts (not required for slabs).
3. Framing Inspection: Made when shingles, sheathing, insulation, windows and fireplace (if prefab) are installed (need all plumbing, electrical, gas/mechanical rough completed). The house should be “in the dry” at this point. Brick ties should be on the house and felt on plywood corners if bricked. All wood should be protected from moister before brick can be applied. A separate brick inspection can be made before the framing if needed. Masonry fireplaces are to be inspected when brick is laid to throat of chimney. All areas to be concealed need to be inspected.
4. Final Inspection: To be made when structure is completed and ready for a Certificate of Occupancy.
NOTE: The “HOLD” on engineering from the City of Huntsville Engineering Department and the “HOLD” for the sub-contractors list at the City of Huntsville Inspection Department must be released before a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued.
1. Slab Inspection: Made before gravel and poly are installed over pipes and water lines.
2. Sewer / Water Line Inspection: Made before sewer line and water line are covered.
3. Rough-In Inspection: Made when all lines are stubbed and pressure tested prior to sheetrock.
4. Final Inspection: Made when fixtures are set and plumbing is completed.
1. Slab Inspection: If any electrical lines are installed in slab, and if any electric lines are to be concealed.
2. Rough-in Inspection: When wires are pulled and stapled just prior to installation of sheetrock (NO insulation is to be installed before this inspection. Any electrical lines to be concealed must be inspected.)
3. Final Inspection: When all fixtures, plugs, and appliances are installed. All electrical work should be completed at this time.
4. Final Inspection: Air conditioning final to be made when all electrical lines and disconnects are completed to the heat and air unit.
GAS / MECHANICAL
1. Rough-in Inspection: When all gas lines and refrigeration lines that are to be concealed are run inside structure. All ductwork to be concealed must be inspected prior to installation of sheet rock.
2. Final Inspection: When all gas appliances are installed and completed and all mechanical work finished. Work area around unit is to be furnished to code specifications.
When requesting an inspection, please provide the following:
Type of inspection requested.
Address of inspection.
Name of contractor or owner.
Inspections MUST be called in only by that particular permit holder (Prime Contractor or Sub-Contractor)
For more information, call 256-427-5331.
COMMERCIAL PLANS REVIEW
1) Two full sets of plans and specifications stamped by an architect and/or professional engineer in the State of Alabama if the building is over 2,500 square feet is size, or is an assembly, educational, institutional, or hazardous occupancy.
2) A completed Application for Building Permit.
3) A septic tank permit from the Madison County Health Department if the property is outside Huntsville’s area of sewer service.
4) A completed “routing sheet” if the property to be developed is not located in an approved subdivision.
5) The City Engineering Department requires 4 sets of stamped civil drawings for the development.
6) A copy of the deed to the property if the owner plans to act as the General Contractor. An owner can act as his General Contractor if the building is less than 5000 square feet, not over 2 1/2 stories, or not an assembly, educational, institutional, or hazardous occupancy. If an owner acts as the General Contractor, then they are stating they know all technical codes and ordinances. (This is NOT recommended)
7) If the project involves a food establishment, retail market, and/or food-processing establishment, the kitchen facility or service layout must be approved by the Madison County Health Department. The Health Department requires 2 sets of plans for their review.
8) If a commercial swimming pool permit is to be secured, then it must be approved by the Madison County Health Department and the City Engineering Department must sign off on the site drawing.
9) A copy of the letter from the State Building Commission is required if the project involves city or state monies, or city or state property. All public schools and related structures, all private schools with over 25 or more pupils, all hotels/motels, public inns, and lodging houses with 15 or more rooms for rent, and/or any motion picture theater must be reviewed by the State Building Commission.
10) If the project is covered by the City of Huntsville’s Master Plan, then a letter must be submitted showing the project has been through the Planning Commission giving approval for “Location/Character/ and Extent.”
11) If the project is for a building or any addition to a building in any of the Research Park Districts, then an approval letter from the Research Park Board must be accompanied with the building application.
12) If the project received a Board of Zoning Adjustment variance or Historical approval, then a copy of the letter of approval must accompany the building application.
13) If the project is located in the flood fringe area, then a flood development permit is required. This must be obtained by the City Engineering Department and a copy submitted with the building permit application.
14) If there are 15 or more parking spaces or 5000 square feet of PVA area, (any area a vehicle can drive across) then two sets of landscaping plans and certified photometric plans must be submitted to the Inspection Division for review.
15) If the project is for demolition, renovation, or an addition, an asbestos release form must be competed by the Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Management. This must be submitted with the building application.
Pre- Permit Code Review (optional)
This is either an informal meeting between all involved parties or a general review by staff only concerning various code requirements with regard to a particular project. At this stage only one set of plans are needed which will be returned to the owner or architect if requested. This review is not mandatory and is by request only, but is highly recommended on larger projects.
COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION AND ADDITIONS
Footing Inspections: Inspections are required for setbacks, footing depths and widths, and steel rebar. Slab and footings shall meet engineer standards and the Standard Building Code. Slabs must also be inspected.
Foundation Inspections: Made after the grading of the crawl space (if any), draining of the crawl space and placement of a 4-inch drain line at the lowest point. Construction of piers and spacing of anchor bolts will also be inspected. (Not required for slabs)
Framing: Made when windows, shingles, sheathing, etc. has been installed in the building so no water can enter. Rough-ins are to be made prior to this inspection (just prior to sheetrock). Request a brick inspection before any brick is laid.
Ceiling Inspection: Made before drop-in ceiling is installed.
30 day Temporary: Made when all other 30-day temporaries have been passed. Building and electrical rooms should have working locks. BUILDING IS NOT TO BE OCCUPIED UNTIL FINAL INSPECTIONS ARE COMPLETED
Final: To be made when all other final inspections have been passed and structure is ready for a Certificate of Occupancy.
Slab: To be made if any electrical conduit or electrical wires have been installed in the slab.
Underground Conduit: To be made if any electrical conduit or electrical wires are to be run underground. Inspection must be made before that portion is concealed.
Rough-In To be made when wires have been pulled and stapled-Just prior to sheetrock, however, (NO insulation is to be installed prior to this inspection.)
30 day Temporary: To be made when the building and electrical rooms can be locked. Building must be secured and the electrical panel and ground on the outside must be completed. The electrical work inside the building must be safe prior to a temporary is passed.
To be made when all fixtures, plugs, and appliances are installed. All electrical work must be completed at this time. (Including the electrical for the HVAC System)
Slab Inspections To be made before gravel and poly are installed over pipes and water lines.
Sewer/Water Lines: To be made before sewer lines and water lines are covered.
Rough-In: To be made when all plumbing pipes are stubbed-out and pressure tested prior to sheetrock being hung.
30 Day Temporary: To be made when the sewer and rough-ins have been passed. (This inspection must be requested by the plumber.
Final: To be made when fixtures are set and plumbing is completed.
Slab: To be made if gas lines or mechanical work is run under or through the slab. Inspection is to be made before the work is covered.
Rough-In: To be made when gas or refrigeration lines are to be concealed inside the structure. All duct work to be concealed must be inspected prior to sheetrock.
30 Day Temporary To be made when the rough-in inspections have been passed and the heat and air systems are made safe. All temporary finals shall be requested by the HVAC and gas permit holders.
Final: To be made when all gas appliances are installed and completed. Also needs all mechanical work completed. The work area around the unit is to be finished to code specifications.
When requesting Inspections, please have the following information ready:
1. The type of inspection being requested.
2. The permit number
3. The address where the permit is held.
4. The name of the contractor, sub-contractor, or owner.
The “ENGINEERING HOLD” from the City of Huntsville Public Works Department and the “SUB-CONTRACTORS LIST HOLD” FROM THE inspection Division must be released before a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued. This list is to help with the inspection process but may not be all-inclusive. Check about inspections for your job when you obtain your permit.
30-DAY TEMPORARY will be issued for the testing of equipment ONLY. This will be limited to 30 days unless an extension is required and requested in writing to the Inspection Division. The building is NOT to be occupied by the tenant until a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued. The General Contractor must sign an affidavit at the Inspection Division before a temporary is granted. Also, the deposit MUST be in the General Contractors name at Huntsville Utilities before a 30-day temporary is granted and cannot be removed until a certificate of occupancy is issued and the power is in the name of the permanent occupant at Huntsville Utilities.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
FOR RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION
1. What hours are the Inspection Department Open?
The Inspection Department is open from 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday. The inspectors are in the office usually from 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and again at 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
2. Where is the Inspection Department Located?
The Inspection Department is located on the second floor of the Public Services Building at 320 Fountain Circle, which is the northwest corner of Fountain Circle and Williams Avenue.
3. What codes are the Inspection Department under currently?
The 1997 Standard Building, Standard Plumbing. Standard Gas, and Standard Mechanical Codes and 1996 National Electrical Code. Codebooks may be obtained from the Southern Building Code Congress at (205) 591-1853.
4. Who can build a dwelling?
The state law requires that only a properly licensed contractor which holds a current certification through the Alabama Homebuilders Licensure Board or a currently licensed state general contractor with a license with a license number below 18908 can build a one or two family dwelling. The owner of the property may also build their own residence if they hold title to the property and it is to be their personal residence, which will not be offered for sale for at least a year. The owner acting as their own contractor loses any protection from the Alabama Homebuilders Licensure Board for any defects. The owner must adhere to all codes and ordinances.
5. Do I need a permit for accessory structures?
Yes. Accessory structures must be in the rear yard, at least five feet from the side and rear property line, off any easements that may be on the property, and cannot be over two stories. The accessory structures must be at least ten feet from any other structure including the main house. Plumbing in accessory structures is limited to one commode and one lavatory. On corner lots accessory structures must meet the required secondary front yard setback. The secondary front yard setback may be obtained by calling the Inspection Department at (256) 427-5341.
6. Do I need a permit for a fence?
No. Fences do not required a permit. If the fence is located in the Huntsville Historic District, it must have approval from the Huntsville Preservation Commission.
7. How are the setback lines measured?
Setback lines are measured from actual property lines.
8. When do I need a building permit?
A building permit must be obtained if the cost of the material and labor for such work is in excess of $250 dollars or structural work is involved in any amount. Painting, wallpapering, fencing, and floor covering exempt from permitting. When in doubt, call the Inspection Department.
9. Does everybody that I hire have to be licensed?
Yes. If you pay someone to do subcontractor or contractor work, they must be licensed with the Inspection Department. Subcontractors are only licensed to do certain work. Call the Inspection Department to find out if they are licensed to do the work you contracted with them. One phone call can save you a lot of time and heartache.
NOTE: For specific information for properly licensed contractors and sub contractors please contact the Huntsville Inspection Department at (256) 427-5331. Many people have found the Huntsville/Madison County Builders Association and Better Business Bureau to be a great resource for builders.
LICENSE AND PERMIT COST
Types of contractors:
A.Home Building Contractor – This license is for building houses, remodel additions and repair. Must hold a license from Alabama Home Builders Licensing Board. This contractor can do small commercial work but cannot exceed $49,999.00.
B.State General Contractor – This license is for commercial work and is required when the contract amount is over $50,000. This contractor must be licensed by the State of Alabama General Contractors Board.
C.Plumbing, Gas, Mechanical, Electrical and Landscaping Contractors – These contractors must be certified by the appropriate State Board covering that disciplining trade. These contractors must purchase permits for their trade.
D.Sub-contractor / Specialty Contractors – Must be licensed for the type work they do. The license allows them to have 3 SCI items. They must work with a licensed contractor or the property owner acting as a contractor. Sub-contractors cannot buy building permits.
E.All contractors must show proof of insurance by a Certificate of
1. Policy must show a 10-day notice before cancellation.
2. Insurance must have 30-day life at time of licensing.
3. Must show products and completed operations.
4. General Liability Policy must have property and bodily injury with a minimum of $200,000 for each occurrence.
A. New single-family dwelling permits are calculated using the following formula:
1. The square footage heated area times $15.00.
2. The square footage unheated area time $7.50.
3. Add both together and multiply times .005.
B. All other building permits are calculated using the Total contracting price times .005.
C. Any plumbing, electrical, gas or mechanical work will have to be permitted by the appropriate contractor.