Dallas, Texas
Building Inspection

 

Sustainable Development and Construction
Building Inspection

Frequently Asked Questions


When is a building permit needed and where can I get one?
Can I get a permit at a Building Inspection District Office?
Does a contractor need to be licensed to do work on my home?
What kind of work can I do on my own home?
What is a Certificate of Occupancy, where can I get one, and what documents will I need?
What is a planned development district?
How do I know if I'm in a planned development district? How do I know my zoning district?
When is a permit required?
What work does not require a permit?
Can I run a business out of my home?
What is a nonconforming use? Can I continue to operate a nonconforming use?
Can a dumpster be in front of my apartment building?
What are the setbacks at my location?
What are the rules regarding fences?
What are the rules regarding carports?
What special rules apply to Historic Zoning Districts?
What special rules apply to Conservation Zoning Districts?
What special rules apply to Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay Districts?
What is a Specific Use Permit (SUP)?

When is a building permit needed and where can I get one?

    Generally, a building permit is needed for work involving structural elements of a building. Permits are not required for certain construction work. Historic or conservation districts have special requirements for work on the exterior of properties. Most permits are issued at the Building Inspection Permit Center, but can be obtained at a Building Inspection District Office under some circumstances.

Can I get a permit at a Building Inspection District Office?

    Yes, if the permit is for re-roofing, foundation repair, or constructing a fence on an interior lot only (not for a corner lot).

Does a contractor need to be licensed to do work on my home?

    Any Plumbing or Mechanical contractor doing work on an individual’s home is required by the Texas Plumbing License Law or the Texas Mechanical License Law to have a license to work on that home. This license is required even if the scope of the work doesn't require a permit and inspection.

    Electrical work must be performed by a licensed electrician.

    A license is not required for general building work on your own property.

What kind of work can I do on my own home?

    Electrical work must be performed by a licensed electrician unless the homeowner can prove to the Chief Electrical Inspector that they have the knowledge and expertise to perform the electrical work on their own home.  Permits, unless exempted by Chapter 52 of the Dallas Building Code, are required for electrical work.

    Under the Texas Homestead Act, Texas Plumbing License Law and Texas Mechanical License Law, a person who owns, occupies and has homesteaded the home where the work is to be performed is exempted from the requirement of having a licensed person do the work and may do any kind of plumbing or mechanical work on his/her homestead themselves. The work performed by a homeowner requires a permit (when required by Chapter 52 of the Dallas Building Code) and inspection (if required). If no permit or inspection is required, the homeowner is required to comply with the plumbing/mechanical code.

    A homeowner may perform general building work on their own property after obtaining all of the proper permits.

    Compliance with the Dallas codes is required on all types of work as well as obtaining the appropriate inspections.

What is a Certificate of Occupancy, where can I get one, and what documents will I need?

    A certificate of occupancy (CO) is a document issued by Building Inspection, which permits land, and/or buildings to be used for the purpose(s) listed on the CO. Chapter 52, “Administrative Procedures for the Construction Codes”, of the Dallas City Code states that except for certain uses, (for example, single family uses, duplex uses, etc.), COs are required prior to occupancy of a building or land. COs can be obtained at the Building Inspection Permit Center (room 118). Consult the Certificate of Occupancy Application Checklist to determine what information and documents will be needed to complete an application for a CO.

What is a planned development district?

    A Planned Development District (PDD) is a customized zoning district intended for larger scale, mixed use development which would not be possible within any of the standard zoning districts. Development standards such as height, setbacks, and allowed uses are contained within the ordinance written specifically for the PDD. These ordinances are available at the Building Inspection Permit Center (room 105) in Oak Cliff, City Hall (room 5BN), or you can locate these regulations on-line.

How do I know if I'm in a planned development district? How do I know my zoning district?

    To determine if an address is located within a Planned Development District Use the online zoning map to determine the zoning on our property. A user's guide is located on the zoning map.

When is a permit required?

A person, firm or corporation shall not erect, construct, enlarge, add to, alter, repair, replace, improve, remove, install, convert, equip, use, occupy or maintain a structure or building service equipment without first obtaining a MASTER PERMIT from the building official. Permit Fee Schedule

What work does NOT require a permit?

For a complete list of construction work for which permits are not required, see Chapter 52, Section 301(b) of the Dallas City Code (Dallas Building Code).

The following partial list includes the most important items.

  • Stopping of leaks in pipes, drains or plumbing fixtures if the repair does not require replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes, or fixtures
  • Nonstructural interior remodeling of single family or two family dwellings that does not add floor area or change exterior doors or windows

NO PERMIT is required for the following except in certain areas such as historic districts, conservation districts and planned development districts that have additional requirements.

  • Re-roofing of single-family or duplex dwellings, if the value of work does not exceed $500 dollars
  • Erection of utility buildings with floor area of less than 200 square feet, without utilities, on single-family or duplex premises
  • Erection of patio covers with an area less than 200 square feet on single-family or duplex premises (may not be within a front yard setback or side yard setback area)
  • Erection of fences not over four feet high in a front yard, nor over six feet elsewhere
  • Adding of storm windows, shutters, trim, awnings, siding, rain gutters, or insulation to a building
  • Attaching window awnings to exterior walls of single-family homes where the awnings project not more than 54 inches from any wall (projections in required setbacks are limited to 12 inches)
  • Construction of decks, platforms, walks, or driveways not more than 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story on single-family or duplex premises
  • Installation of prefabricated swimming pools accessory to single-family or duplex dwellings in which the pool wall is completely above adjacent grade and the pool capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons
  • Erection of carports of 200 square feet or less that are accessory to single-family or duplex dwellings (may not be within a front-yard front yard setback or side yard setback )
  • Erection of retaining walls which are not over four feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall

Can I run a business out of my home?

    A HOME OCCUPATION is "an occupation that is incidental to the primary use of the premises as a residence and conducted on the residential premises by a resident of the premises".  This is considered to be an accessory use and no certificate of occupancy is required. The following rules must be observed:

    A person who engages in a home occupation shall not:

    1. use  an advertisement, sign, or display relating to the home occupation on the premises;
    2. use the street address of the premises on an advertisement, sign, or display off the premises;
    3. employ more than one person on the premises, other than the residents of the premises;
    4. have an employee, other than residents of the premises, who works on the premises more than four hours in any given week;
    5. conduct any activities relating to the home occupation, including activities on any porch, deck, patio, garage, or unenclosed or partially enclosed portion of any structure, unless conducted entirely inside the main structure;
    6. involve more than 3 people on the premises at one time, other than residents of the premises;
    7. generate loud and raucous noise that renders the enjoyment of life or property uncomfortable or interferes with public peace and comfort; or
    8. sell, or offer products of the home occupation at or on the premises;
    9. generate vehicular traffic that unreasonably disrupts the surrounding residents peaceful enjoyment of the neighborhood; or
    10. generate parking congestion that unreasonably reduces the availability of on-street parking spaces on surrounding streets.
    11. A home occupation may not occupy more than 25 percent or 400 square feet of the total floor area of the main structure, whichever is less. This area restriction controls over the area restriction of Subsection 51A-4.217(a)(3)

What is a nonconforming use? Can I continue to operate a nonconforming use?

    A nonconforming use means "a use that does not conform to the use regulations of this chapter, but was lawfully established under the regulations in force at the beginning of operation and has been in regular use since that time." The current zoning district does not allow that use can continue, but new uses must comply with the current zoning.

    It is up to an owner to research utility records, building permit records and other historical records to establish that a use was lawfully established and continued without any break of 6 months or more.

Can a dumpster be in front of my apartment building?

    Required front yards must be open and unobstructed except for fences.  Since structures are typically built adjacent to the setback line, dumpsters cannot be in this area.

What are the setbacks at my location?

    Setbacks (described as "required front, side and rear yards" in the Dallas Development Code) are areas adjacent to your property lines that must remain clear and unobstructed except for fences. Generally, setback requirements are standards contained within the requirements of the various zoning districts. You will have to look up the zoning district for your property, once the zoning district has been established, development standards including setbacks can be found
    by accessing the Dallas Development Code, planned development district regulations, historic district regulations, or conservation district regulations. Basic zoning standards, including setbacks, can be easily located by using the zoning summary chart located on the City’s web pages. Setbacks can sometimes be found on a plat. Check the Certified Plat for building lines from the county records office.

What are the rules regarding fences?

    Fence rules differ depending on whether the site is in a residential or nonresidential zoning district. 
    • Fences in single family and duplex districts may not exceed four feet above grade when located in the required front yard.  Under some circumstances, corner lots may have two front yard setbacks (email Building Inspection for details).  
    • Fences in required side or rear yards may not exceed nine feet in height. 
    • Barbed wire may not be used for fencing unless it is located six feet or more above grade and does not project beyond the property line. 
    • Fences may not be located in easements. 
    • Swimming pool enclosures have additional fence requirements. 
    • All fences must provide firefighting access to the side and rear yards. 
    • Fences must not be placed or maintained within a visibility triangle at street, alley, or driveway intersections.  

For detailed requirements, consult the Dallas Development Code, planned development district regulations, historic district regulations or conservation district regulations, depending on your zoning district.

What are the rules regarding carports?

    Carports that are attached to the main structure must follow the district setback requirements. Detached carports are considered to be accessory structures, and if located in the rear, 30% of the lot can be placed up to the side and rear property lines (except if an alley exists, a 3-foot setback from the alley is required). However, the Building Code requires a one-hour firewall separation unless the accessory structure is setback five feet. Therefore, unless the carport is all metal, it should be setback 5 feet.

What special rules apply to Historic Zoning Districts?

    "Historic overlay zoning districts" are established to preserve areas that are distinctive elements of the city's past. Historic districts have the "H" prefix indicated on the zoning location maps. Development standards such as height, setbacks, and allowed uses are contained within the ordinance written specifically for the Historic district. These ordinances are available at the Permit Center (room 105) in Oak Cliff or at City Hall (room 5BN). Most historic district ordinances can be found on the City of Dallas web site. Please note: Exterior work on property and structures located within City of Dallas designated historic districts requires approval of a certificate of appropriateness prior to commencement of work. This form, plus information regarding the Certificate of Appropriateness (CA) process can be found on the City of Dallas web site.

What special rules apply to Conservation Zoning Districts?

"Conservation Districts" are established to provide a means of conserving an area's distinctive atmosphere or character by protecting or enhancing its significant architectural or cultural attributes.   Conservation Districts have the "CD" prefix on the zoning location maps. Development standards such as height, setbacks, and allowed uses are contained within the ordinance written specifically for the Conservation district.  These ordinances are available at the Building Inspection Permit Center (room 105) in Oak Cliff or at City Hall (room 5BN).  Conservation District ordinances can be found on the City of Dallas web page.  Please note:  The work review form for Conservation District work provides, once approved, assurance that the proposed work will be in keeping with the standards in the ordinance.

What special rules apply to Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay Districts?

    Neighborhood Stabilization Overlays are another form of overlay zoning regulation that afford neighborhoods varying levels of predictability regarding certain aspects of new development, and compatibility with scale of existing development. More information regarding NSOs and specific ordinances can be found on the City of Dallas web page.

What is a Specific Use Permit (SUP)?

    The SUP process provides a "means for developing certain uses in a manner in which the specific use will be compatible with adjacent property and consistent with the character of the neighborhood". SUPs are granted by the City Council. Special requirements and restrictions are contained within the ordinance written specifically for the SUP. These ordinances are available at the Building Inspection Permit Center (room 105) in Oak Cliff or at City Hall (room 5BN). You can apply for an SUP at City Hall in room 5BN, and an application packet can be obtained on the Internet.


Horizontal Line
© 2001-2014 City of Dallas, Texas.
Accessibility   |    Credits   |    Privacy Policy   |    City Terminology Guide   |    Contact Us   |    Contact Web Master