General Information

What a Building Permit Is

A building permit is a license, which grants legal permission to start construction of a building project.

What Construction Projects Need Building Permits

Any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit.

 Building permits are typically required for:

  •  New Buildings
  •  Car Ports
  •  Additions
  •  Alterations/Renovations
  •  Swimming Pools
  •  Storm Shelters

Work Exempt from Permits.

Permits shall not be required for:

  • One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet (200 square feet if accessory to a one or two family dwelling.)
  • Fences not over 6 feet (1,829 mm) high.
  • Oil derricks.
  • Retaining walls which are not over 4 feet (1,219 mm) in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II, or III-A liquids.
  • Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18,927 liters) and the ratio of height to diameter or the width does not exceed 2 to 1.
  • Sidewalks and driveways not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above grade and not over any basement or story below and which are not part of an accessible route.
  • Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.
  • Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.
  • Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R occupancy, which are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep, do not exceed 5,000 gallons (19,000 liters) and are installed entirely above ground.
  • Shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes and not including service systems.
  • Swings and other playground equipment accessory to one and two-family dwellings.
  • Windows awnings supported by an exterior wall of Group R and Group U occupancies.
  • Movable cases, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches (1753 mm) in height.

Exemptions from permit requirements shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of the Building Code or any other laws or ordinances of this jurisdiction.

The Purpose of Permits

Permits allow the enforcement of the 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 of the citizens. 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 which you are about to build or remodel. When that home or business building does not comply with the codes, your investment could be reduced. Applying for a building permit notifies the Building Inspections Department that you are constructing or remodeling a building so they 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 therefore ensuring the public health, safety and welfare. The building permit process helps us understand what our local laws and ordinances are. Before any construction or remodeling work begins, application for a permit provides the means for the Code Officials to inspect construction to ensure that minimum standards are met and appropriate materials are used.

Required of All Types of Construction

  •  You must meet all building and zoning codes of the City of Tahlequah:
    • Property must be zoned properly
    • You must have a building permit before any dirt work or construction may begin
    • All mechanical, plumbing, and electrical contractors must be licensed with the City of Tahlequah
    • You must have the water, sewer, electric, and mechanical inspected during all phases of construction
  •  The following codes must be adhered to:
    • 2015 NFPA Life Safety Code
    • 2014 NEC. Electrical Code
    • 2015 International Residential Code
    • 2015 International Plumbing Code
    • 2015 International Mechanical Code
    • 2015 International Building Code
    • 2015 International Fire Code
    • 2015 International Existing Building Code


Any person, firm, or corporation that starts work on a project which requires a permit before obtaining said permit will be subject to a penalty amounting in the amount equal to, but not more than, twice the amount of the original permit fee.


Permit applications may be submitted at the building inspector's office at 111 South Cherokee Street, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the building inspector at 918-456-0651, extension 2266.