Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I need a building permit for my proposed project?

Please review “exempt work” to confirm that the proposed work requires a building permit.  If a building permit is not required, you may still need approvals from other city departments.

What are the license/registration requirements for a contractor?

Please review “contractor license requirements” to confirm that you have appropriately licensed/registered contractors.

The License requirements are available here on Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection's web site.  You can get a roster of active license / registration holders by clicking here.

What information is required on plans for Building Department review?

Please review “Building Department Plan Submission Checklist” to confirm that your plans show adequate information for plan review and permit issuance. 

How do I know if my plans need to be “sealed” by a licensed architect/engineer?

Please review “architectural seal requirements” to confirm if your project requires sealed plans.  If sealed plans are required, you must upload sealed plans, otherwise your application will be marked “incomplete”.  You can get a roster of active license / registration holders by clicking here.

What documents are required by other Stamford Departments?

Please review “Inter-departmental review matrix” to learn about other Stamford Departments which will need to review and approve your application before a permit can be issued.  Also, please review “Submission Requirements for Stamford Departments” and upload necessary documents when you submit your application online.

How can I calculate the building permit fee?

Please review “permit fees” information to become familiar with permit fee calculation.

Which inspections are required by code?    

Please review “code mandated inspections” to become familiar with the types of inspections required for your project.  Please review “Residential Inspection Checklist” to become familiar with the inspection process.  Also, please review “special Inspection” requirements to become familiar with special inspection requirements for commercial and certain residential projects. 

What documents are required for obtaining a Final Certificate of Occupancy?

Please review “Checklist for TCO/PCO/CO” to become familiar with documents required prior to issuance of temporary, partial or final Certificate of Occupancy.

What is the difference between a Certificate of Approval and a Certificate of Occupancy?

Please refer to the 2015 IBC section 111.6 portion of the 2018 Connecticut State Building Code, shown below for Certificate of Approval requirements:

The building official shall issue a certificate of approval indicating substantial compliance with the requirements of this code for all completed work that requires a building permit but does not require a certificate of occupancy. Such work shall include, but not be limited to: fences greater than 7 feet (2134 mm) in height; retaining walls greater than 3 feet (914 mm) in height; decks; garages; swimming pools; basements and attics converted to habitable space; electrical, plumbing, and mechanical repairs or alterations.”

In general, a Certificate of Occupancy is issued for new buildings and buildings undergoing change of use, to establish legal use and occupancy.  A Certificate of Approval is issued for all other work including alterations and trade permits.

Do you have contact information for other Stamford Departments?

Please check out the Directory of Stamford Departments.  Thanks.

Who do I speak to for questions related to inspections?

Please contact Shawn Reed, Coordinator of Inspections and Plan Review at 203 977 4162 or send him an email at [email protected]

Who do I speak to for questions related to application filing or permit?

Please contact David Nelson at [email protected].

Who do I speak to for questions related to roof replacement, siding or window/door replacement?

Please contact Luis Jimenez at [email protected].

Can you give me your email address for general questions?

Please send us an email at [email protected].

Does the Building Department enforce regulations related to light pollution caused by excessive exterior lighting?

Yes, per Chapter 155 of the Municipal Ordinance, section 155-9, Stamford Building Department enforces exterior lighting related violations.  

Section 155.9

a.  Building Department to Enforce. The Chief Building Official, or designee, shall not issue a Certificate of Occupancy unless the applicant provides certification that the Exterior Lighting as installed complies with the approved Lighting Plan and the requirements of this Chapter unless waived or amended by the Director of Operations, or such Director's designee, in writing. The certification shall be submitted in a format prescribed by the Chief Building Official and reviewed by the Department of Buildings. The certification shall be completed by the architect, electrical engineer, electrical contractor, or lighting consultant responsible for the plans or the final installation.

b.  Violations and Penalties. The Chief Building Official, or such Official's designee, shall investigate complaints regarding the compliance with this Chapter. Should the Building Official, or such Official's designee, find any violation of this Chapter, the Building Official shall

(1)  Send a Notice of Violation to the property owner and/or manager where such violation occurred requesting the violation to be corrected within eight (8) days of the date of the Notice of Violation.

(2)  Should the violation not be corrected after thirty (30) days of the date of the Notice of Violation, issue a Citation for such violation not exceeding the following amounts

(a)  One hundred dollars ($100.00) for each day the property is in violation for properties containing a single-family, two-family, or three-family building;

(b)  One hundred dollars ($100.00) for each Luminaire per day not in compliance for all other properties.

Is a CRS number required for electrical service?

Effective immediately no electrical permits are to be issued for any service work that involves Eversource needing our release unless the applicant provides the CRS number.

Do I need a license to work as a General Contractor in Stamford CT?

A General Contractor is required to have one of three credentials described below, depending on the type of construction activity.

  1. Major contractor license:  For commercial, institutional and multi-family structures. 
  2. New Home Construction contractor registration:  For new 1 or 2 family structures.  
  3. Home Improvement Contractor registration:  For residential alteration projects. 

Please visit the Connecticut State Licencing information page for specific information and filing requirements.  Please click here for information on Major Contractor License Requirements.  You can get a roster of active license / registration holders by clicking here.

My home is owned by an LLC and I am the sole owner of the LLC.  Am I allowed to pull a permit as a home owner doing his/her own work per CGS 20-340?

An LLC is not exempt because the exemption under CGS 20-340 is for persons only not firms or entities.  An LLC must have an HIC license and file as a contractor.

CHAPTER 400-HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTORS
Sec. 20-420a. Procedures for registration. (a) No corporation shall perform or offer to perform home improvements in this state unless such corporation has been issued a certificate of registration by the commissioner. No such corporation shall be relieved of responsibility for the conduct and acts of its agents, employees or officers by reason of its compliance with the provisions of this section, nor shall any individual contractor be relieved of responsibility for home improvements performed by reason of his employment or relationship with such corporation.

My structure was built in 1928.  What building code was it built under?

The state building code was adopted in 1971 and information about applicable codes for structures built in 1971 or thereafter can be found here.  Any residential structure built prior to the adoption of state building code in 1971 must comply with the Stamford Municipal Ordinance Chapter 146 – “Housing Standards” as applicable as well as comply with the Connecticut State Fire Safety Code.   Per section 101.4.4 of 2015 International Building Code (IBC) portion of the 2018 State Building Code, property maintenance shall be in accordance with the requirements of the 2015 IBC and the applicable provisions of the 2018 Connecticut State Fire Safety Code and the 2018 Connecticut State Fire Prevention Code.

Per 2015 IRC R202, “Buildings or structures or portions thereof erected prior to October 1, 1970 shall be deemed existing buildings regardless of the existence of a legal permit or a certificate of occupancy.”

Can I convert my basement for habitable use?

It depends on many factors.  Please review Basement Construction Guide for assistance.  Basement requirements also vary per Stamford’s Zoning Regulation and Chapter 146 of Stamford Municipal Ordinance enforced by the Health Department. 

Basement is defined as “A portion of a building located partly below grade that is not a crawl space, where the ceiling is less than five (5) feet above the level from which the height of the building is measured.”  Chapter 146 of Stamford Municipal Ordinance defines a basement as, “A portion of a building located partly underground but having less than half its clear floor-to-ceiling height below the average grade of the adjoining ground.”  

2015 IRC defines a basement as, “A story that is not a story above grade plane.”  A grade plane is defined as, “A reference plane representing the average of the finished ground level adjoining the building at all exterior walls.”  Story above grade plane is defined as, “Any story having its finished floor surface entirely above grade plane, or in which the finished surface of the floor next above is either of the following:  1. More than 6 feet (1829 mm) above grade plane.  2. More than 12 feet (3658 mm) above the finished ground level at any point.”  Please consult a registered design professional for assistance. 

Can I make minor alterations to an existing non-conforming structure?

A non-conforming use is defined as, “The use of a building or of land that does not conform to the regulations as to use for the district in which it is situated.”  Stamford Zoning Regulation states that, “The total structural repairs and alterations that may be made in a structure which is nonconforming in use only shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of its replacement value at the time of application for the first structural change, unless changed to a conforming use.”  Please consult the Zoning Department for further assistance.

What is the statute of limitations for a non-conforming structure?

Please read the summary of Tine v. Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Lebanon, 308 Conn. 330 (2013) and subsequent Public Act No. 13-9, entitled “An Act Concerning Enforcement Protection For Nonconforming Structures.”  Please consult the Zoning Department for further assistance.

Do I need a permit if I am doing repairs?

A permit is not required for ordinary repairs to structures.Such repairs shall not include the cutting away of any wall, partition or portion thereof, the removal or cutting of any structural beam or load-bearing support, or the removal or change of any required means of egress, or rearrangement of parts of a structure affecting the egress requirements; nor shall ordinary repairs include addition to, alteration of, replacement or relocation of any standpipe, water supply, sewer, drainage, drain leader, gas, soil, waste, vent or similar piping, electric wiring or mechanical or other work affecting public health or general safety.(R105.2.2 and IBC 105.2.2)

What happens if I occupy the premises before a CO or COA is issued?

Pursuant to subsection (a) of section 29-265 of the Connecticut General Statutes, no building or structure erected or altered in any municipality after October 1, 1970, shall be occupied or used, in whole or in part, until a certificate of occupancy has been issued by the building official, certifying that such building or structure or work performed pursuant to the building permit substantially complies with the provisions of the State Building Code. Nothing in the code shall require the removal, alteration or abandonment of, or prevent the continuance of the use and occupancy of, any single-family dwelling but within six years of the date of occupancy of such dwelling after substantial completion of construction of, alteration to or addition to such dwelling, or of a building lawfully existing on October 1, 1945, except as may be necessary for the safety of life or property. The use of a building or premises shall not be deemed to have changed because of a temporary vacancy or change of ownership or tenancy.

Exceptions:

1. Work for which a certificate of approval is issued in accordance with Section 111.6.

2. Certificates of occupancy are not required for work exempt from permit requirements under Section 105.2.

The penalty shall be not less than two hundred nor more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than six months or both, pursuant to section 29-254a of the Connecticut General statutes.  (SBC 111.1, CGS 29-254a, CGS 29-265a)

What happens if I continue to work after a Stop Work order has been issued?

Any person who shall continue any work in or about the structure after having been served with a stop work order, except such work as that person is directed to perform to remove a violation or unsafe conditions, shall be liable for penalties in accordance with Section 114.4.  (SBC 115.3)

The penalty shall be not less than two hundred nor more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than six months or both, pursuant to section 29-254a of the Connecticut General statutes.  (SBC 115.3, 114.4, CGS 29-254a)

How do I verify if my architect or engineer is licensed in Connecticut?

Please click here for a link to License Verification.  You can get a roster of active license / registration holders by clicking here.

What are the building code requirements for maintaining construction safety?

Chapter 33 of International Building Code provides requirements for construction safety. 

In addition, Federal OSHA standards mandate site safety.  Please click on the links shown below for short videos on Federal OSHA standards.