Permits & Licensing

When do I need (or not need) a building permit?

A building permit is required in so many situations that it may be easier to list those situations when a building permit is NOT required.

The list below applies to residential building permits. Commercial construction generally requires building permits for any alteration or addition to an existing structure or new construction, with certain exceptions. (Please note that other permit application reviews may also apply. See the next page for examples. Contact South Whitehall Township if you have questions.)

  • A building permit is not required for alterations when the fair market value, including labor and materials, is less than five hundred dollars ($500.00).
  • Construction of retaining walls not more than four (4) feet high, unless the retaining wall supports a surcharge.
  • Construction of fences not more than six (6) feet high, unless the fence is a required barrier for a pool. If the fence is the required barrier to a swimming pool it is considered a building permit and must comply with Appendix G of the IRC 2009.
  • Concrete patios.
  • Decks 30″ or less above grade (measured to any point 36″ horizontally from the edge of the deck).
  • Residential detached accessory buildings (greenhouses, sheds, carports, detached garages) having less than five hundred (500) square feet based upon outside dimensions, that are accessory to residential dwellings.
  • Installation or replacement of a window, storm window, door, garage door or storm door in the same clear-width opening if the original dimensions or framing is not altered
  • Replacement of existing roof material without structure changes to the roof framing.
  • Replacement of glass in any window or door.
  • Painting, wallpapering, tiling, carpeting, cabinet or counter top installation, or similar residential finishing work (Electrical, plumbing or other permits may apply).
  • Prefabricated swimming pools capable of holding not more than twenty-four (24) inches of water.
  • Swings or other play equipment customary to single-family dwellings or twins.
  • Replacement of exterior rain gutters or leaders.
  • Water tanks supported directly on grade with a capacity of less than 5,000 gallons and a ratio of height to diameter that is no greater than 2:1.
  • Replacement of exterior siding.

The following items may or may not require a building permit (please see above), but DO require a ZONING permit. (Please note that other permit application reviews may also apply.)

  • Fences not more than six (6) feet high.
  • Concrete patios
  • All decks.
  • All sheds.
  • Sidewalks and driveways.
  • Window awnings that are supported solely by an exterior wall and which does not project more than fifty-four (54) inches from that wall.
  • Change of use.