How It Works

For each technical subcode of the UCC, the Department adopts by reference national model construction codes, which, in turn, contain references to national performance technical standards used in construction. The technical standards contain more detailed specifications for a particular aspect of construction. The national model codes incorporate by reference standards that are appropriate to their subject. For example, the adopted building subcode for New Jersey is the 2006 edition of the International Building Code (IBC/2006), which references technical standards that are developed and published by such organizations as the American National Standards Institute, the American Society of Testing and Materials, and the National Fire Protection Association and that apply to accessibility, heating and ventilation, and fire sprinkler requirements. The UCC provides one stop service at the local level. A construction permit is required for a construction project. This permit includes technical subcode applications for building, electrical, fire protection, mechanical, or plumbing work. A construction permit is required for any new construction as well as for work on existing buildings, including structural, plumbing, mechanical, and electrical work. There are some exceptions to the general permit requirement. For example, construction permits are not required for ordinary maintenance, which includes routine repair. Property owners or contractors are responsible for obtaining construction permits and for submitting any required fees. Municipalities adopt their own fee schedules by ordinance. Information about fee schedules for an individual municipality may be obtained from that local enforcing agency.

Applications & Permits

Applications for construction permits are submitted to the local enforcing agency. Under the UCC, local enforcing agencies are required to act on construction permit applications, including building plans and specifications, within specific timeframes. Not later than 20 business days after the submission of a complete application, the permit application must be approved or denied.

Construction work may begin when the construction permit is issued. If plans and specifications have been submitted with the construction permit application, the plans and specifications must be released before the permit is issued. During construction, the code official or inspector conducts regular inspections to ensure that the work performed complies with the UCC. The permit applicant is responsible for notifying the local enforcing agency that the project is ready for inspection. The inspection must be performed within three business days of the notification. As the construction project approaches completion, the permit applicant notifies the local enforcing agency that it is ready for the final inspections.

At this time, the permit applicant also applies for a Certificate of Occupancy. When the project has passed the final inspections and it has been determined that the project complies with the UCC, that all required fees have been paid, and that the conditions of any prior approvals have been met, the construction official issues a Certificate of Occupancy. A Certificate of Occupancy verifies that the construction work authorized by the construction permit has been completed in accordance with the UCC.

A Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) may be issued if the work is substantially complete, there are no outstanding health or safety issues and the building or space can be occupied safely. A TCO is issued for a defined period of time during which any remaining items are to be completed. The TCO may be renewed if additional time is needed.