Building something new? Making changes to an existing building or property? We’re here to help make sure that work gets done right. We handle planning, permits, and inspections so you can rest assured that buildings in Grand Rapids are safe for people to use and meet our community's design standards.
The Development Center brings together people from Planning, Engineering, Code Compliance, Fire Department, and others to make it easier for you to build or renovate buildings in Grand Rapids.
The Customer Ombudsperson is a cross-departmental liaison who provides customer support and assistance in identifying the permits needed for a proposed project, assisting small business owners with licensing requirements and other required approvals, connecting customers with available economic development incentives, and ensuring projects are moving through the appropriate channels in a timely manner.
Learn more about how the Customer Ombudsperson can help you!
Building Codes and Planning
Structures need to meet certain standards so they aren't dangerous to the people using them. We call these standards “building codes.” We also verify that improvements to structures and properties meet our community's standards. This includes where different types of activities are allowed, what building materials are used, how stormwater is managed and how utilities are designed. If you hear talk about “code compliance” we’re talking about making sure buildings and properties meet these standards.
The State of Michigan adopts construction codes that govern most aspects of building construction in the state. Michigan bases its construction codes on standards published by the International Code Council (ICC) and updates them every 3 years.
We at the City of Grand Rapids enforce the Michigan construction codes. We also adopt and enforce many local ordinances and policies related to land use, building design, site design, utilities, and other aspects of development.
Codes are why most construction requires a permit, even renovation projects in your own home. They're also why we need to review plans for what you intend to build before we can issue a permit. We review plans to make sure proposed construction meets safety standards and doesn’t break any laws. We also keep those plans on record.
Permits and Inspections
A permit is an official document that verifies the work you’re doing is legal. You’ll need a permit for all new construction and any modifications made to an existing structure. If you’re changing electrical, mechanical, or plumbing systems you’ll probably need permits for that work as well.
You can begin work as soon as you receive your permits. Then, when the work's completed, call to request an inspection. Your inspector’s name and phone number are typically printed on your permit.
The inspector checks to make sure everything is okay. Click here to see the current Building Inspections Fee Schedule. Once the work passes inspections, we can issue a Certificate of Occupancy. A Certificate of Occupancy is official proof the building is safe for people to use. Congrats, and well done!