Building permits are required for all new work, additions, and alterations that involve structural changes (new doors, new window openings, partitions etc.). Permits are not required for simple changes to interior finishes i.e. paint, wall paper or other wall finishes.
A Building Permit and/or Zoning Use Permit are required for:
- The construction of a new building, or addition, enclosures and alterations to an existing building including decks, porches and sunrooms
- Installation, modification or replacement of any permanent heating or air conditioning system
- Replacement windows or doors where opening changes are made
- Pre-fabricated Swimming Pools & Hot Tubs 24" and greater in depth
- New or Re-roofing and/or Siding
- Patios (concrete, paver-block, etc.)
- Retaining walls greater than 4' in height
- Finishing Basements
- The installation of Fences, Utility Sheds & Pole Barns
- Demolition of a structure
- New or relocated businesses
- New or replacement signs
- Lawn sprinkler systems
- Additions or changes of electrical equipment and services
- The addition or replacement of all plumbing fixtures, including water softeners, water heaters and garbage grinders
- Driveway paving/widening (including gravel)
- Fuel storage tanks (in-ground and above ground)
- Residential, Commercial or Industrial Fire Suppression or Detection systems (new or modifications)
- Any work along a street including curb & sidewalk repairs including the re-grading of property
Permits are NOT required for:
- Replacement of windows and doors where no changes to the opening are made
- Painting of wall covering
- Non-structural minor repairs
- Ponds/Pools less than 24" in depth
- General landscaping, not in restricted areas
- Repairing minor damage to drywall or plaster finishes
Sump pumps and roof drains may not be discharged to adjacent properties without written permission from the property owner. Any work involving changing natural vegetation patterns, or modifying the grade on the property or in wetlands is prohibited. Work involving grading requires permits and may involve approval of other state and/or federal agencies depending on the scope and location of the work.
Residential accessory structures must be located outside of the front yard setback and to the rear of the principle structure (house) on the site and 7' from any side and/or rear property lines. Height of accessory structures is either 14' or 21'6" depending on its location on a given lot. Location(s) for accessory structures are governed on the setbacks of the structure, i.e. If it is at the seven 7' setback it cannot be higher than 14' if it is within the building envelope for your zoning district, then it can be up to 21" - 6" in height. Note: the height of accessory structures is measured from the lowest point around the perimeter to the highest point.
Easements or restricted areas such as floodplain or wetlands on a property may further limit where structures or fences may be located.
Horsham Township has adopted regulations governing the process of constructing or altering buildings and their accessory structures within the Township via Zoning, Building & Plumbing Codes, as well as specific public safety or nuisance ordinances If you have any question as to whether or not a permit is required, please contact the Code Enforcement Department at (215) 643-3131 for assistance before beginning work. Fines can be issued for any work begun prior to the issuance of the required permits.
Permit Applications and Forms
Permit application forms are available at the Township Building or under Applications and Forms. Applications must include a plot plan where outside additions are proposed, and two sets of construction details for review. Upon approval one set is returned with any corrections or comments noted. In residential applications, where the Code Officer's review finds that an unusual design cannot be determined to meet Code requirements, an Engineers seal may be required. All commercial construction plans must be signed and sealed by an engineer.
The Purpose of Permits
Permits allow the enforcement of codes, which have been adopted as law by a state, county, township or city. No matter what the specific project may be, the enforcement of codes is carried out to protect the public health, safety and welfare. The unit of government which enforces the code is acting to assure safe construction.
The Use of Permits
Code officials and inspectors use building permits as a vital step in their enforcement of codes. You have an investment in the home or business you are about to build or remodel. When that home or business structure does not comply with the codes, your investment could be reduced. Applying for a building permit notifies the Code Official that you are constructing or remodeling a building so he or she can ensure code compliance.
Why A Building Permit?
Building permits provide the means for Code Officials to protect us by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction and thereby ensuring the public health, safety and welfare. The building permit process helps us understand what local laws and ordinances. Before any construction or remodeling work begins, application for a permit should be made. Building permits provide the means for Code Officials to inspect construction to ensure that minimum standards are met and appropriate materials are used.
The Permit Process
- Visit or Call your Local Code Official. The Code Official will ask "What are you planning to do?" and "Where are you planning to do it?" Then, the Code Official will explain the requirements (codes/ordinances) regarding your project. An application for a building permit will be given to you at this time. This initial contact will provide the resources and information you will need to make your project a success and avoid potential problems, which could cost you time and money.
- Submit Application. The permit application requires information about the construction project. You'll be asked to document "who" will perform the work, "what" work will be done, "where'' the work will be done, "when" the work will be done and "how" the work will be done. Sketches, drawings, plans or other documentation of the proposed work will have to be submitted for review. A fee will be collected at this time. The permit fee helps defray the cost of the Code Official's time spent in the application process, the review process, and the on-site inspection process. The fee also gives you access to the Code Official's knowledge and experience when and if you have any questions about your construction project.
- Wait During Review Process. The majority of permit applications are processed with little delay. The Code Official will determine if your project is in compliance with the construction codes, with the zoning ordinance, and with other municipal or state ordinances and statutes.
- Receive Results of Review Process. If compliance with the code, zoning ordinance and other applicable regulations is determined, the application is approved and a permit issued. If compliance is not determined, your application as submitted will be denied. If you are refused a building permit, you can correct the code violations or appeal the decision.
- Receive Permit. The building permit is the document granting legal permission to start construction. You must proceed as approved in the review process. Inspections required for your project will be indicated on the permit. Most building departments require you to post the building permit in a window or other prominent place at the construction site, keep a copy of the building plans at the site, and bring any proposed changes to the attention of the Code Official immediately. Changes will require a review and approval in the same manner as the original application.
- Arrange Inspection Visits. Each major phase of construction must be inspected by the Code Official to make certain the work conforms to the code, the building permit and the approved plan. The person responsible for the construction project must request each inspection. Normally, 24 to 48 hours advance notice is required. If an inspector finds that some work does not conform to approved plans, the inspector will advise (and possibly provide written notice) that the situation is to be remedied. If the violation is serious, a stop work order may be posted until the problem is resolved. Another inspection may be necessary before work is resumed.
- Receive Certificate of Occupancy. When code compliance is determined, the inspector issues a certificate of occupancy. This certificate is the formal document which marks the compltetion of your construction project and gives you permission to occupy your new or renovated building with the knowledge that it has met the safety standards in your community.