Glenn Berry, Building Chief
County Office Building
111 West Chesapeake Avenue, Room G21
Towson, Maryland 21204
Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Notice Of Adoption Of New Building Code
Effective July 1, 2015
Building construction in Baltimore County shall comply with the 2015 editions of the International Building Code, the International Residential Code, the International Mechanical Code and the International Energy Code as well as local amendments, all as set forth in County Council Bill No. 40-15. (PDF)
The Bureau of Building Inspections, which includes Sediment Control Enforcement and Inspection, is a division of the Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections and is tasked with conducting required inspections on all new and remodeled residential and commercial building projects for compliance with all applicable codes. Sediment Control oversees active construction sites for proper grading, sediment and erosion control compliance, and investigates drainage complaints.
- Inspect work performed to ensure conformity with all current building codes
- Investigate building complaints (PDF)
- Interact with contractors, engineers, and property owners to answer code compliance questions
- Sediment control
Building codes used by Baltimore County are (adopted July 2015):
- International Building Code, 2015 Edition
- International Residential Code, 2015 Edition
Building Permit Requirements
Building Permits are required for the following:
- Accessory structures (sheds, garages, gazebos, etc.) over 120 square feet
- All accessory structures located in Flood Zone A or located in historic districts
- Garages and carports attached to single family dwellings
- Above ground swimming pools over 250 square feet with water depth of 24 inches or more
- All in-ground pools: a 48 inch safety barrier with self latching, self closing gates is required
- Retaining walls over 36 inches: engineered drawings are required for over 48 inches
- Fences over 42 inches in height
- Decks greater than 16 inches above the lowest grade and exceeds 120 square feet
- Wood stoves, pellet stoves, and fireplaces
- Additions and structural modifications to existing dwellings
- Enclosing of open porches and decks
- Basement excavations
- Change of use of structure
- Razing permits
- Grading over 5,000 square feet
- Alterations to historic houses
Downspouts are to be discharged at a distance of not less than eight feet from any property line measured along the path of flow.
Two layers of shingles can be put on a roof (a permit is not required).
Windows and doors may be replaced without a building permit, provided no structural changes to the frame are required.
If you have further questions or would like more information in regards to whether a permit is required for your project, call Building Inspections at 410-887-3953.
To schedule, reschedule, cancel or inquire about an inspection call 410-887-4638 or go to Inspection Connection and follow the prompts.
- You will need your permit number.
- You will need a three-digit inspection code number (provided on the web site or by calling the above number).
Accessory structures (Sheds, garages, etc) requirements:
- Must be located in the rear yard behind the rear foundation wall line
- Must occupy no more than 40 percent of the yard
- Must be located two and a half feet from the side and rear property lines
- If there is an alley, there must be a minimum setback of 15 feet from the centerline.
- There is a height limitation of 15 feet
- If located on a corner lot, the structure must be situated in the half of the lot furthest from the side street
- If it is larger than 400 square feet, it requires frost-line footings
Construction drawings are not required for additions or alterations up to 600 square feet and may be waived by the Building Inspection Bureau if in excess of 600 square feet, which would be determined when building application is filed.
- On a corner lot, no fence or other obstruction to vision is permitted higher than three feet within 25 feet of the corner of the two streets, 15 feet of a street and alley and 10 feet of two alleys.
- A residential fence in a side or rear yard which adjoins a residential front yard, cannot exceed 42 inches if it is setback 0 to 10 feet, 48 inches if setback is 10 to 20 feet, 60 inches if setback is 20 to 30 feet, and if setback is over 30 feet, there is no height limit. Required pool fences and houses more than 200 feet apart are exceptions.
- Fences enclosing in-ground pools must be 48 inches high with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
If a fence is erected within an easement and is required to be removed, it is done at the owner's expense.
For more information concerning picket spacing, chain-link application, etc., contact Building Plans Review at 410-887-3987.
Basement and Clubrooms
To build a clubroom in an unfinished basement, a permit is not required, provided no structural changes are made to the foundation walls and supports. However, plumbing and electrical permits are required for plumbing or electrical work.
If a bedroom is added in a basement, a permit is required and it must have an approved egress window or door to the exterior.
Building Design Requirements
The following building design requirements apply in Baltimore County:
- Footing depth is a minimum of 30 inches
- Minimum snow load is 30 pounds per square feet
- Design wind speed is 75 miles per hour
- Design wind pressure is 14.4 pounds per square feet
- Flood protection elevation is 7.7 feet (Back River and South) and 8.5 feet (North of Back River) NAVD88
- Building Thermal Envelope One Story Additions 600 Square Feet or Less (PDF)
Roofing Repairs, Re-roofing, and Siding
The International Residential Code (IRC) Section R907 requires that when re-roofing or replacing shingles, Section R905.1.2 Ice Barrier and R905.2.8.5 Drip Edge shall be installed when replacing shingles on an existing roof.
- The code also includes any step flashing or normal flashing be replaced.
- The only exception to this is that if an existing roof already has an ice barrier membrane that is adhered to the roof deck, it can remain in place and covered with an additional layer of ice barrier membrane in accordance with Section R905.
In addition, the same applies to siding. When replacing siding, a Water-Resistance Barrier is to be installed as required by Section R703.1.1 (Tyvek is a specific type of barrier that is widely used);
- However, other non-proprietary materials are also acceptable to meet this requirement, before siding is installed.
- Flashing is to be installed around all windows and doors and shall extend to the surface of the exterior wall finish or to the water-resistive barrier for subsequent drainage.
- A building permit is required to undertake roof repairs if 50 percent or more of the sheathing or deck is being replaced. See Part 112.1.3 of the Baltimore County Building Code, Bill 40-15 (PDF).
Public Information Act (PIA) Request
For Zoning Regulations call 410-887-3391, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For sediment run-off from construction sites call Sediment Control at 410-887-3226 between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC) can be contacted concerning MHIC licenses for contractors by calling 410-230-6309, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Revised November 13, 2015