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PLI: FAQ's

Licensing

Do you have a list of licensed contractors in the City?

We do not currently maintain a list of contractors within the City. If you have a particular contractor in mind, please call our office and we can tell you if they have a current and valid license.

How do I apply for an electrical license?

The City of Pittsburgh requires an Electrical Certification from the International Code Council in order to obtain an Electrician’s License, Exam #710. You must register through Pearson Vue to schedule an exam at http://www.pearsonvue.com/icc/license/. You must create an account to see exam dates. More info about the exam can be found at http://www.iccsafe.org/education-certification/certification-and-testing/

I no longer own a property but I received a sign invoice. What do I do?

Please return them to our office with a letter stating that you no longer own the property.

I want to start a food truck. How do I apply for a license?

Click here: http://apps.pittsburghpa.gov/bbi/Mobile_Vehicle_Vendor_Application_2016.pdf for new ordinance requirements and application.

 

Permitting

What is the process to acquire a permit?

  • The process for permits varies dependent upon the type of permit requested. All building and change in use permits start in the Zoning office located across the hall from PLI on the 3rd floor of 200 Ross Street. Please visit their website to learn more about the zoning process.
  • Once Zoning approves the application, the applicant brings all paperwork to the permit counter. Dependent on the scope of work, the permit may require drawings. Please see our Construction FAQ for more information.
  • Other permit types, such as HVAC, electrical, occupant load placards, fire alarm, and sprinkler systems, are submitted directly to PLI.
  • Once the application is submitted, it will go through our plans review process if drawings are required. This process usually takes between 3-6 weeks.
  • Once the permit is approved, the Plans Examiner will contact the permit applicant. At this point, the permit technician will determine the fee and payment is required.

How do I reach the Application Technicians?

The best way to reach an Application Technician is through our group email address: pliapptech@pittsburghpa.gov. This email address routes to all of the Application Technicians so that the first free tech can answer your inquiry.

Our technicians are always working the counter and may not be able to take your call. Please leave a message and they will return the call. Please call our mainline at 412-255-2175 and someone will direct your call to the appropriate contact.

What type of work requires a permit?

Refer to description of various permit types on: PLI Website. See also the description of work not requiring a permit on the PLI Website.

Some work may still require permits or approvals from other departments (such as DPW, City Planning, ACHD)

Common work requiring a permit:

  • Fencing, Pools, Siding, Roofing, Window replacement- YES
  • Painting, Masonry re-pointing: NO- unless in a Historic District
  • Interior Demolition? -YES– a building permit is required.
  • Low Voltage Electrical work? – commercial YES, residential NO
  • Landscaping- NO, -unless structural in nature (such as retaining walls over 4’ high), or major land operations work. See Land Operations information.

What is the cost of a permit?

The cost of a permit depends on the scope of work and type of application. Please refer to the fee schedule.

The final permit fee is assessed after the application has been approved, and the permit technician will provide the final fee. Payments are not accepted until the application is approved and ready to issue. Payments may be a check or money order.

Are drawings required for a permit?

Residential - non-structural renovation work- NO.

Residential - substantial alterations, structural changes, new additions, decks - YES.

Commercial - YES

*Note that drawings may be deemed necessary to determine code compliance based on the scope of work on any permit, and may be requested at application review or during inspection.

Do I need stamped drawings? (sealed by a PA-Licensed architect or engineer)

Residential renovation work – NO

Residential – Substantial structural work, multi-story additions – YES

Commercial – YES

How many sets of drawings are required to be submitted?

Two (2) sets of drawings are to be submitted. One set of final approved drawings will be returned with the permit for reference on the job site. This set must be kept on site until construction is complete and the inspector finalizes the permit.

How long does it take to get a permit?

Residential- most renovation permits are reviewed and issued same day / over the counter.

Residential – new structures / substantial work requiring plan review – Approximately 15 business days.

Commercial – plans are reviewed in approximately 30 business days.

Is there an expedited plan review option?

NO. Applications are reviewed in the order received.

I’ve been asked to submit revisions. How long until my permit is approved?

Once the requested revisions are submitted, the application is placed into a queue and reviewed in the order received. Although the permit is not placed at the end of the line for all permits, there will be approximately a two week review period.

What is the status of a permit already submitted?

Please use our mainline at 412-255-2175 to contact an employee to check on the status of a permit.

See also PLI website for Applications Pending Review.

Are preliminary review / code consultations available?

NO. Final Applications for permits are reviewed for code compliance. PLI does not make design recommendations. It is recommended that Building Code and Design Professionals, PA- licensed architects and engineers, be consulted to review preliminary plans and provide design recommendations.

What are the current building codes for the City of Pittsburgh?

The City of Pittsburgh has adopted the Uniform Construction Code, with local amendments under City Code Title Ten. Refer to the PLI website.

Do I need a contractor?

YES. A registered contractor is required for all work permits within the City of Pittsburgh.

*EXCEPTION: for Residential building permits only, an owner may act as the contractor for work on their primary residence.

Residential Building Permits Only: Contractors required to be registered with the PA Attorney General as a Home Improvement Contractor are verified in lieu of registration with the City of Pittsburgh.

Can I mail in an application?

Yes. Please make sure all required materials are mailed with the application. If we do not receive all documentation, there will be a delay in the permitting process.

Code Enforcement

I believe my neighbor has code violations on their property. What should I do?

Please contact 311 on their website by phone, or via twitter. An inspector will be assigned to do an inspection and determine if there are any violations.

I submitted a 311 complaint and nothing has been done.

Although it may not seem like any progress has been made on a particular property, there may have been many steps taken in order to get the violations corrected.

I submitted a 311 complaint and it is not on the violation search.

The search only contains notices sent after October 15, 2015. If you do not see an address that has remaining violations, please resubmit to 311.

Can I testify in court against my neighbor?

Yes, please contact Julie Reiland at 412-255-2811 to coordinate. To view court dates, please visit the magisterial judicial website. Court dates will appear once the hearing has been scheduled. If you do not see a date, the hearing has not yet been scheduled.

How do I get the City to condemn a house?

Please contact 311 and request an inspection of the property

How do I find out if a building is condemned?

Please visit our website to view a list of condemned structures.

Can I request to have the City demolish my building?

No, available property owners are responsible for their own property resolutions. You must obtain a private demolition permit from our office before removing any structures, including garages.

Can I go onto my neighbor’s property or a vacant lot and clean it up?

PLI cannot authorize anyone to enter property without the owner’s permission. If you are interested in reclaiming an abandoned private or City owned vacant lot, please visit City Planning’s adopt-a-lot website.

What can be done about junk vehicles?

If someone is storing a vehicle that is not inspected or registered on their property, this is a code violation. Please call 311 to alert PLI of the violation and we will send the owner notice to remove the vehicle. If the vehicle is located on the street, this is a Police issue. Please contact 311 to alert the Police.

My neighbor constructed a fence on my property. What do I do?

Please put in a request to 311. Our inspectors will verify if a building permit or occupancy permit was issued. If proper permits were issued and the fence was constructed according to that permit, PLI requests that a professional property survey is conducted in order to verify property lines. We do not maintain records of property surveys.

Am I allowed to park in my front yard?

No, parking requires specific zoning permission and most City neighborhoods do not allow front yard parking. It is possible that zoning has allowed a variance in neighborhoods where parking is an issue. It is best to go to the Zoning office to determine if a front yard parking pad would be allowed.

If your neighbor is parking in their front yard, please call 311 to request an inspection.

What is the proper procedure to fix my sidewalk?

Property owners are responsible to maintain sidewalks. If we sent you a notice for repair, please contact the Department of Public Works to submit a sidewalk permit application.

If a City tree is causing the issue, more steps must be taken by the property owner. Please visit this PDF for detailed information on how to receive a partial reimbursement.

Can I dump my yard debris such as grass and leaves over my hillside?

No, dumping of any kind is illegal within the City limits.

Someone dumped on my property. What do I do?

Without any evidence of who did the dumping such as photos or videos that can lead to a specific person or company, the property owner is responsible to clear the property of debris.

Construction

Who is my inspector?

Construction inspectors are assigned when the permit is issued, and the inspector’s name and phone number will be listed on the permit itself.

Can I request an inspection if I don’t have a permit?

NO. Work is not permitted without a valid permit.

Will I need a Third Party Agency (TPA)?

TPA inspections are required for some permit types and will be indicated on the permit. We only accept TPA inspections from our approved list.

TPA inspections are not accepted for permits which are assigned to inspections by the City of Pittsburgh.

How do I know if a company is approved for TPA Inspections?

The most current list of Approved Third Party Agencies is on the PLI website.

What types of inspections are needed?

An approved inspection is required for each phase of work before it is covered or concealed. Generally, this will include:

  • Pre-Inspection -before work begins
  • Footing and Foundation Inspection - after excavation and placement of reinforcing steel. Prior to concrete.
  • Concrete slab and under-floor inspection
  • Lowest floor elevation - in flood hazard areas.
  • All Rough-in inspections HVAC, ELECT, Fire, Accessibility, and Frame/Penetrations
  • Frame inspection
  • Lath and gypsum board inspection
  • Fire- and smoke-resistant penetrations
  • Energy efficiency inspections
  • Special inspections
  • All Final Inspections HVAC, ELECTo Final and Occupancy Inspection, Fire, Accessibility, and Building to include smokes and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Final and Occupancy Inspection

How do I schedule an appointment for inspection?

It is the duty of the permit holder to contact the inspector when work is ready for inspection, and provide access to and means for inspection.

Contact the Inspector listed on the permit directly by phone or email to schedule the inspection.

I can’t reach my inspector?

Contact the inspector’s supervisor. The supervisor’s name and phone number are listed on the permit and will be provided.

The inspector’s voicemail is full and I already called the Supervisor and didn’t get a call back. Is there anyone else that can take my call?

Please contact our Government and Public Relations Liaison Julie Reiland at 412-255-2811

What does the Inspector need to see at the time of the inspection?

An approved posted permit and inspection sign-off card.

Approved construction drawings must be available on the job site.

All work requiring inspection must be made accessible to the inspector at the time of inspection.

This information can be provided by the Inspector during the Pre Inspection.

If I have concerns about a property, can I contact an inspector?

If an emergency, contact 911. Non-emergency, the concern can be directed to 311 and an Operations Inspector will be assigned.

Fire

Why did my business receive a notice of violation in the mail for fire alarm, fire extinguishers, sprinkler system documentation, etc.?

PLI has recently begun a Fire Systems Maintenance Program. Our inspectors will be proactively inspecting buildings to make sure all required documentation and fire systems are up to date.

Please contact your inspector to rectify any fire safety violations.

How far in advance are appointments being scheduled?

Currently we are booking appointments for 1 week in advance.

Do I need to use a Third Party Agency for Fire Inspections?

Fire Inspections are not inspected by third party agencies. Please contact the inspector on your permit to schedule an inspection.

Do I need to use a Third Party Agency for Fire plans review?

Fire plan review is currently required to be reviewed and approved by a third party agency. However PLI is making plans to resume internal plan review in the near future.

Do I need a permit for sprinkler or fire alarm maintenance?

It depends on the extent of the work. Please call the Fire Inspection Supervisor at 412-742-0098 to discuss the specifics of the job.

Do I need a sprinkler system or a fire alarm system in my building?

Please contact a registered design professional to evaluate your specific situation.

Can the fire maintenance inspector force me to add more devices to an existing system?

No, fire maintenance inspections are to ensure all life safety components are functioning, certified and compliant. If you apply for a building permit, life safety components will need to be to code.

Can I remove fire hose from my building if it isn’t being used?

No, you cannot remove fire hose from your building without an evaluation from a registered design professional.

Does sprinkler or fire alarm contractors have to be registered with the city of Pittsburgh?

Yes, sprinkler and fire alarm contractors must be registered with the City.

buildingeye

What is this map showing?

Building Permits – Any permit applied for beginning January 1, 2013

Licenses – Active licenses that are issued to a specific address

Code Enforcement – All violations issued beginning October 15, 2015

Planning – Any application for Site Plan Review, Planning Commission Review, an Administrator Exception, or a Zoning Board Hearing (including Special Exceptions and variances) made on or after January 1, 2016

What do the colored dots represent?

Blue dots are open applications/permits/cases

Green dots are closed applications/permits/cases

As I zoom in, the number of records found changes. Why?

This is a feature unique to buildingeye. The number of records adjust according to the portion of the map that is visually displayed and is not representative of the total number of records.

Can I see a property’s Certificate of Occupancy?

Unfortunately, we have not been able to make Certificates of Occupancy digital at this time. If a record was created on or after January 1, 2013, you will be able to see the completed permit but not the issued Certificate of Occupancy.

Certificates of Occupancy are available to the public by coming to our office at 200 Ross Street, 3rd floor or calling our main line at 412-255-2175 to request a copy.

What are the application types in the planning module?

Administrator Exceptions which involve Staff Review and a Posted Notice. If approved, a Building Module record must be reviewed and approved prior to the start of work.

Conditional Uses which involve Staff Review, Posted Notice, Public Hearing, Planning Commission Review and City Council Review. If approved, a Building Module record must be reviewed and approved prior to the start of work.

Final Land Development Plans which involve Staff Review, Public Hearing, and Planning Commission Review. If approved, a Building Module record must be reviewed and approved prior to the start of work.

Institutional Master Plans which involve Staff Review, Public Hearing, and Planning Commission Review.

Over-the-Counter Zoning Reviews are recorded in the Building Module and will not be visible in the Planning Module.

Preliminary Land Development Plans which involve Staff Review, Public Hearing, and Planning Commission Review.

Project Development Plans which involve Staff Review, Public Hearing, and Planning Commission Review. If approved, a Building Module record must be reviewed and approved prior to the start of work.

Site Plan Reviews which involve Staff Review. If approved, a Building Module record must be reviewed and approved prior to the start of work.

Special Exceptions which involve Staff Review, Posted Notice, Public Hearing, and Zoning Board of Adjustment Review. If approved, a Building Module record must be reviewed and approved prior to the start of work.

Variances which involve Staff Review, Posted Notice, Public Hearing, and Zoning Board of Adjustment Review. If approved, a Building Module record must be reviewed and approved prior to the start of work.

Zoning Map Changes which involve Staff Review, Posted Notice, Public Hearing, Planning Commission Review and City Council Review. For more information on the Planning review processes involved visit the Zoning Approval Process page.

For more information on a particular Planning project, contact the Division of Zoning and Development Review at zoning@pittsburghpa.gov or 412-255-2241. Please be sure to include the project address and record number when making your inquiry.

For questions, comments, or suggestions regarding the Building, Enforcement or Licensing modules or general queries about Pittsburgh's buildingeye webpage, contact buildingeye@pittsburghpa.gov.

Miscellaneous

Where can I find out if a property has a building permit?

Please visit pittsburghpa.buildingeye.com/building to see if a property has a building permit.

Do I need a  Certificate of Occupancy to sell my property?

The City of Pittsburgh does not require a Certificate of Occupancy at the time of sale. PLI does not perform systematic Occupancy inspections similar to other municipalities around Pittsburgh. This does not mean that building is compliant with all Zoning and building codes at the time of sale and we advise to always check the Certificate of Occupancy prior to purchasing a property or signing a lease.

How do I get a copy of a Certificate of Occupancy??

Please email plirecords@pittsburghpa.gov using our Occupancy Request form. A copy can be emailed or mailed back to you once processed.

I have a complaint that isn’t a building or zoning violation. What do I do?

Please call 311 and the correct department will follow-up with the complaint. Some common complaints that PLI does not handle include:

  • Unlicensed and unregistered vehicles in the public right of way – Police
  • Ice and snow on sidewalks – DPW
  • Boarding up City property - DPW
  • Plumbing violations – Allegheny County Health Department
  • Garbage cans being placed on the sidewalk too early – Environmental Services
  • City Trees – Forestry

I want information on violations and permits. Do I need to submit a Right to Know request?

If you would like a copy of a notice of violation or a building permit, our office can provide those without submitting a request. If you are requesting a large quantity of information or information that is historical in nature, please submit a request.

I want to submit a Right to Know request. Where do I go?

All Right to Know requests must be submitted through the City Law Department. Please visit the City's Information page.. You can mail, hand deliver, or e-mail requests directly to the Law Department.

Can I view building plans?

We do not release building plans unless permission is obtained from the current owner or original architect.