Understanding USA building permits for log homes, Pt. 1

Posted Feb 08, 2021, Category: Advice

Have small cabin plans for a sweet parcel of land somewhere in the United States? That’s a dream we at Eurodita understand perfectly. After all we are the bespoke log cabin company that manufactures those dreams into reality. To that end, we often go out of our way to provide all the information necessary for building cozy glulam log cabins. This time in our radar – United States.

America has some pretty strict laws regarding zoning and building codes. So, the following information is going to be necessary for you before choosing the right model of your log cabin. That said, there’s information you need to know before even setting your eyes on a particular piece of land. To that end, you need to understand two key concepts: zoning and building codes. The wast majority of development you want to do will require both permits. And so, in this post, we will look into what they are and how they work.

Zoning laws – what they are

To put it simply, zoning laws regulate the development and use of real estate. Every municipality has its own residential, commercial and industrial zones. These zones determine what building and activities can happen there. This happens in order to maintain the health and safety of citizens, as well as to retain the financial value of any given area.

In addition to that, zoning also regulates a wide variety of factors. For example, it can set the type of industry that can set up in an industrial zone, or the size of housing that can be built in the residential zone. Zoning codes can also require minimum square footage of the building, setbacks from streets, distance between houses and so on..

For a little bit of interesting history, the first zoning law was introduced in 1916, in the New York City. It became necessary when the natural light onto the residential area was blocked by the construction site of the Equitable Building.

Building permits – what are they

Building codes determine how a residence – or in your case, glulam log cabins – should be built. The codes establish minimum safety, size and other reasonable standards. All building codes are divided into chapters. Each chapter codifies a different part of the structure. For example, the number of rooms, the size of those rooms, safe number of occupants and so on.

Just like zoning laws, building permits exist to protect the health and safety of the occupants. They also exist to protect the county, the city and the financial value of the area and land upon which the structure is built. If the county or the city issues you a permit to build one or more modular log homes, they take on the responsibility of any claim. Therefore, the building codes are there to impose strict guidelines and to reduce the possibility of an accident to a minimum.

Obtaining permits

Now that we have covered both zoning and building permits, here are another two factors to remember. Building codes are in general quite similar between states. Zoning regulations, on the other hand, can differ wildly, given the differences in city and county profiles. It’s much more challenging to adhere to the zoning permits.

So, how do you go about getting the local authorities to release a permit to you. Depending on where you are, these can be either a singular, or a double process. In some states, you will need to apply for building permit and the zoning regulations will be part of that permit. In other states, you will be required to go through two application processes for each one.

Good research is paramount here. Look into the laws and regulations regarding building and zoning permits in your chosen state, county or municipality. Majority of municipalities hold their zoning maps, where you can see – in your case – residential locations where your dream bespoke log cabin homes could stand. Always contact the local planning and zoning authority if you’re unsure about any aspect. Be prepared to answer questions about your building plans and have those answers ready. The local authorities can advise you much better if you approach them amicably and with all the basic information for them to be aware of.

If at first you don’t succeed in obtaining a building permit, don’t fret. Figure out what was wrong and try again. Better yet, consult your log cabins supplier. They should be able to point you to the right direction, or even offer the permit acquisition aid themselves.