Requirements for an Alterations Permit
To obtain a Building Permit for alterations, gather the materials listed below and submit a completed permit application in-person at the Municipal Services Building (MSB) Concourse.
See Building Permits for complete building permit information, including processing time and fees.
Project information signs are required for all construction, demolition, addition, or alteration projects. Please see the Major Building Requirements and all Other Building Requirements for more details.
The following information must be submitted with all permit applications. Permit applications will not be accepted without these documents.
- Tax Clearance Form from the Revenue Department for the Contractor – These forms may be obtained on line at www.phila.gov/Revenue. Please select “Tax Clearance” on the left side of the web page and select “Permits/Licenses” from the drop-down box and enter your name and SSN or EIN. Once printed, the form is valid for thirty (30) days.
- A current, valid Certificate of Insurance for the Contractor – The Certificate of Insurance must indicate current coverage for comprehensive general liability, workers compensation and automobile liability. The comprehensive general liability (including products and completed operations) must evidence a minimum limit of liability of $500,000 per occurrence. The Certificate of Insurance must describe the type of operations/work the contractor has coverage for, which must be consistent with the Contractor’s permit application. The certificate must also include a contact name and phone number of the contractor’s insurance broker or agent. The City of Philadelphia must be named Certificate Holder and Additional Insured under the contractor’s comprehensive general liability insurance policy.
Note: It is not acceptable for the additional insured requirement to be conditional upon there being a written contract.
- Prerequisite Approvals Before obtaining a building permit, your project may also need to receive approvals from a variety of city departments if your project meets the listed conditions.
- Zoning/Use Registration Permit for any change in use of the property or any changes in the gross floor area or height of the building.
- Use Registration Permit Application – Contact Licenses and Inspections Zoning Unit (Concourse – 1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd., 215.686.2567
- As per PA Act 537 and Clean Streams Act:
- Changes in use of existing buildings where the area being changed is 5,000 sq. ft. or more in Use and Occupancy designations: R-2, R-3, A, B, M and E Use Groups.
- Demolitions on parcels greater than 15,000 sq. ft.
- Clearing and grubbing on parcels greater than 15,000 sq. ft.
- Contact the Philadelphia Water Department (2nd Floor – 1100 Market St., 215.685.1419)
- Proposed curb cuts, driveways, and encroachments on the public way.Contact the Streets Department (Room 940 – 1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd., 215.686.5503)
- All work performed in a hospital, nursing care, end-stage renal disease, intermediate care, ambulatory surgery, or pediatric extended care facility regulated by the PA Department of Health, Division of Safety Inspection.Contact the Division of Safety Inspection, PA Department of Health at 717.787.1911.
- All work performed on properties listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. For listings see The City of Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Contact the Historical Commission (1515 Arch Street, 13th Floor, 215.686.7660)
- All work performed on City owned properties or with City funds. Contact the Art Commission (1515 Arch St., 13th Floor, 215.683.2049)
- Approval of street trees required for all residential subdivisions. Contact the Department of Parks and Recreation (10th Floor – 1515 Arch St., 215.685.4363)
- Approval of fire command center required for all new high-rise buildings.Contact the Fire Department (240 Spring Garden St.; 215.686.1356)
5. Flood Protection Form must be submitted with all Zoning and Building Permit applications in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) and/or floodplain.
6. Asbestos Inspection Report (AIR) provided by a certified Investigator listed by the Asbestos Control Unit of the Philadelphia Health Department.
- Alterations less than $50,000; or
- Residential properties three dwelling units and less; or
- Buildings built after 1980
7. Three sets of building plans
- Plans must be signed/sealed by a PA registered design professional when cost of work exceeds $25,000. Structural plans must be signed/sealed by a professional engineer licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
- Plans must be of professional quality and drawn to scale (e.g. 1/4″ = 1′ – 0″).
- The minimum sheet size is 18” x 24”.
- The following information must be included on the plan:
- Applicable codes.
- Construction type, use and occupancy classification and location of fire suppression system (if applicable).
- All the rooms must be dimensioned and labeled as to their use. (e.g. bedroom, kitchen, office, etc.)
- Occupant loads
- All locations and sizes of doors, windows, stairways, corridors, etc.
- Ceiling types and height of the rooms.
- Wall and partition types and locations (e.g. 8″ cement masonry block wall, plaster ceilings, etc.).
- Location and type of plumbing fixtures
Contractor Requirements All work must be performed by a licensed Philadelphia Contractor with the following exceptions
- Work may be performed by an owner residing on the premises of an existing one or two family dwelling.
- Work may be performed on an existing one or two family dwelling by a registered PA Home Improvement Contractor maintaining a Philadelphia Commercial Activity License.