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How To Get A Building Permit: Overview And Resources

If you are going to erect a building or structure, make structural alterations to, or move any existing building or other structure (including fences), you must first obtain a building permit from the Planning Commission.

The Town must first sign off on all applications for County-required building permits. The Historic Preservation Commission will review most permits as well.

The Town Zoning Ordinances govern setbacks, lot coverage and height.

Note that interior renovations, which involve electrical, plumbing, or load-bearing changes, generally require a County permit.  Sheds and fences require a County permit as well.

Steps to Obtain a Building Permit

1. Understand When a Permit is Required

The Planning Commission reviews all applications for permits to construct, install or alter:

  • building exteriors, including porches;
  • driveways and other residential aprons;
  • walkways;
  • swimming pools;
  • fences;
  • decks; and
  • construction dumpsters, porta-potties or moving pods.

Note that the following structures do not require a building permit:

  • trellises seven feet or less in height;
  • clotheslines;
  • patios; and
  • pergolas under 10 feet in height.

A project that is only inside to an existing building may need a permit from the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services, but a Town permit is not required.

Still not sure?  Contact the Planning Commission Chair.

2. Obtain Application Forms

  • For building permits, including permits for—
    • patios,
    • decks, and
    • fences,

    —complete, print, and submit the Building Permit Application Package described in item 3 below.

  • Helpful information on Town properties may be found in House Files located in the archives in the Town Office.
  • For maximum benefit from the HPC review, applicants should present early-stage design plans to the HPC for an early consultation or preliminary review in order to allow sufficient time to incorporate modifications, if desired.
  • The operation of the Town government is dependent on volunteers, and every effort is made to review applications promptly.
  • Questions regarding status of applications should be directed to the Planning Commission Chair and/or the Historic Preservation Commission Chair.

3. Complete and Submit a Building Permit Application Package

The completed building permit application package is to be submitted to the Town Clerk in person or by mail. The completed package consists of the following:

  • Two copies of a boundary survey clearly showing proposed construction and distances from proposed construction to property lines and corner markers.  Supplying copies of plats or location surveys or drawings is not sufficient unless the Planning Commission waives the requirement to supply a boundary survey.  Please read the Boundary Verification Requirements below before submitting any plats, drawings or surveys, to ensure that what you are submitting is in fact a boundary survey.
  • Permit fees – payable to the Town of Washington Grove (cash or check is acceptable).
    • Major building permit (addition/renovation: $100.00.
    • Minor building permit (fence/shed/deck): $10.00.
    • Driveways and front walks: $10.00.
  • Minimum of two sets of Construction Plans and Elevations drawn to scale as noted on the plan legend. The submitted construction plans must be identical to those which will be submitted to Montgomery County.
  • Public Improvement Agreement with bond, when applicable.

4. Review by Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). 
The HPC meets the third Tuesday of every month at 7:30 pm.

  • Upon receipt of any application for a building permit which will involve any change to a structure or site visible from any public way, the Town Clerk will forward a copy of the application to the HPC for review and comment.
  • The HPC provides valuable input to applicants to encourage preservation of architectural features, compatibility with neighboring structures and preservation of the visual character of the Town.

5. Required Actions Prior to Planning Commission (PC) Review

  • A building permit application must be received in Town Office at least 14 days prior to the PC meeting at which the application will receive initial PC review.  Building permit submission deadlines are listed in the Coming Events Calendar section of the most recent Town Bulletin.
  • The PC will determine if the application and supplementary materials are sufficient for PC review; if not, the applicant will be informed and the entire application returned.
  • The Town Clerk will send to the applicant a “Notice To Neighbors” sign.  The applicant must post this within seven days of receiving it. The PC will not act on an application unless the “Notice To Neighbors” sign has been posted in a timely manner as confirmed by the PC.
  • The PC will wait before taking a vote on a building permit application until the PC has received a timely response from the HPC. If the HPC does not comment within a 30-day period, then the PC may proceed without further delay.

6. Review by Planning Commission (PC). 
The PC meets the first Wednesday of every month at 7:30 pm.

  • The PC will review the completed building permit application package at its next scheduled monthly meeting.
  • If the building permit is approved, the application and submitted plans will be stamped and returned to the applicant.
  • If the PC denies the permit, the application will be so stamped and returned to the applicant including the grounds for denial. The applicant may then pursue a variance from the strict application of the zoning standards with the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), or, in the event the applicant believes that the requested permit was denied in error, file an administrative appeal with the BZA.

7. Obtain a Montgomery County Building Permit

  • The issuance of a building permit by the Town does not preclude the need to obtain a Montgomery County building permit.
  • Approval of the building permit by the Town must be secured prior to making application for a County permit.
  • Notwithstanding that the Town uses the County’s Application for Residential Building Permit form, the County now receives all building permit applications electronically.
  • Upon receipt, a copy of the approved County permit, as well as the approved plans and drawings, are to be submitted to the Town Office for filing.
  • Construction may only begin after the issuance of both the required Town and County permit(s).

8. Boundary Verification Requirements

  • Boundary Survey — The purpose of a boundary survey is to establish, reestablish, or describe, or all of these, the physical position and extent of the boundaries of real property. Sufficient monuments or reference control points which were used to determine the property lines shall be: set or recovered on the ground, to the extent feasible; and shown on a plat upon completion of the boundary survey so that the property lines can be determined or readily reestablished.
  • Location Drawing — The purpose of a location drawing is to locate, describe, and represent the positions of buildings or other visible improvements affecting the subject property. A location drawing is not a boundary survey and cannot be relied upon by anyone to show where the property’s boundaries are.
  • An applicant for a fence permit who can demonstrate that the proposed fence lies within the boundaries as shown by four corner markers will not have to submit a boundary survey.
  • Applicants should make sure the corner markers are flagged as they will need to be checked against the paperwork.
  • Applications for permits for fences at least 10 feet from a property line and/or perpendicular to property lines not violative of setback requirements for the non-perpendicular property line do not require a boundary survey.
  • For small sheds and home modifications that do not change the building’s footprint, a house location drawing clearly showing proposed construction and distances from proposed construction to property lines will be accepted in lieu of a boundary survey.

More Information about HPC Review of Permit Applications

The Historic Preservation Commission also reviews building permit applications made to the Planning Commission. HPC reviews are advisory in nature. Only the Planning Commission has the authority to approve or disapprove permit applications.

The HPC encourages applicants to receive an early consultation or preliminary review from the HPC before they submit a building permit application. This early consultation can take the form of informal discussion or a review of a tentative design to determine if there are any issues in the proposed plans that may concern the Commission. Such early reviews may help in the preparation of formal architectural drawings.  If an applicant elects to adopt the HPC’s recommendations from the early consultation or preliminary review then the HPC should be able to expedite its review of the building permit application.

When filing an application for a building permit with the Town, the submitted material will be compared with the written review(s) from the early consultations, and if the application shows sufficient attention to the HPC’s recommendations, it will be forwarded directly to the Planning Commission without a formal HPC review. If the final design is not in accord with the earlier HPC recommendations, it may be added to the agenda of the next HPC meeting for formal review.

When requesting an early consultation or when submitting a building permit application, please include floor plans, elevations, and descriptions of exterior building materials. Drawings should clearly show the existing structure and proposed changes. It is very helpful, especially if altering the existing structure, to include photographs and/or architectural models to convey proposed changes.

Information submitted should include the following:

  • The scale of the construction in relation to the existing and surrounding structures.
  • Type of exterior materials such as siding, and design elements including windows, doors, and decorative details.
  • Accurate depiction of roof design including pitch, ridgeline orientation, dormers, and eave treatments.

If at all possible, we encourage you to be present when we review your project.

For more information about HPC reviews, see the main HPC web page.  You may also wish to view examples of reviews on the list of, and links to, completed reviews page.

Rolled out building plans


Town Clerk
Kathy Lehman
[email protected]

Planning Commission
Peter Nagrod
[email protected]

Historic Preservation Commission
Bob Booher
[email protected]

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