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Building Inspections

Matt Gawel, Chief Building Inspector
County Office Building
111 West Chesapeake Avenue, Room G21
Towson, Maryland 21204
Phone: 410-887-3953
Fax: 410-887-8081
Email: mgawel@baltimorecountymd.gov

Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Note: To determine the time of a scheduled inspection, please call our office on the morning of the inspection between 7:30 and 8 a.m. Please have your permit number readily available.

Primary Functions

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.

  • Verify compliance with minimum safety standards set forth in adopted building codes
  • Investigate building complaints (PDF)
  • Sediment control
  • Answer code compliance questions from contractors, engineers and property owners

Building Codes

The Baltimore County Building Code was adopted by Baltimore County Council Bill Number 40-15 (PDF) effective July 1, 2015, which includes the 2015 editions of the ICC International Building Code, International Residential Code (IRC), International Mechanical Code and International Energy Conservation Code (subject to exceptions).

The Plumbing and Gasfitting Code of Baltimore County was adopted by Baltimore County Council Bill Number 41-15 (PDF) effective July 1, 2015.

The Baltimore County Fire Prevention Code was adopted by Baltimore County Council Bill Number 63-13 (PDF) effective December 29, 2013.

Section 21-7-303 of the Baltimore County Code, 2015 states all electrical installations shall conform to the latest edition of the National Electric Code, NFPA 70. The code is effective on September 1, following the date of publication.

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:

  • Any building activity within a tidal or riverine 100-year floodplain
  • 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 250 square feet with water depth of 24 inches or more
  • All in-ground pools, which also require a 48-inch safety barrier with self-latching, self-closing gates
  • 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 exceeding 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
  • Any additions or alterations, including demolitions, of historic structures identified on the Baltimore County preliminary and final landmarks list

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.

Inspection Connection

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:

  1. Your permit number
  2. A three-digit inspection code number (provided on the website or by calling the number above).

Accessory Structures

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 larger than 400 square feet, it requires frost-line footings
  • If in one 100-year floodplain, the structure must be firmly anchored

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 the building application is filed.

Decks

Fences

Fence requirements:

  • 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 that adjoins a residential front yard cannot exceed a height of 42 inches if it is setback zero to 10 feet, 48 inches if it is setback 10 to 20 feet or 60 inches if it is setback 20 to 30 feet. 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

A building permit is required to add one or more basement bedrooms. Basement bedrooms must have egress windows with prescribed openings and latches or a door to the exterior.

A building permit is not required to convert unfinished space into a clubroom provided no structural changes are involved, such as outside of the one-year floodplain or moving a bearing wall. However, plumbing, gasfitting and electrical work do require permits.

Roofing Repairs, Re-roofing and Siding

The 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 before siding is installed. 

  • Tyvek is a specific type of barrier that is widely used. However, other non-proprietary materials are also acceptable to meet this requirement.
  • 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-resistance barrier for subsequent drainage.

Roof Repairs

  • 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) Requests

To review or obtain copies of permits and related records, please submit a PIA Request Form (PDF).

For floodplain regulations, building or renovating in a waterfront or stream area, contact Building Plans Review at 410-887-3987.

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 May 30, 2018         

 

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