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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Building

When is a building permit required?
When is a permit not required?
Must I be a licensed builder to obtain a Building Permit?
How can I be sure the builder I hired is licensed?
Does the City of Kentwood have an energy code?
Are all residential buildings covered by the energy code?
What are the prescriptive requirements of the energy code?
I received several pieces of paper when I got my permit. What should I do with it?
Who do I call to get an inspection?
What inspections are required?
What is the minimum footing depth?
Where are egress windows required?
What are the requirements for egress windows?
When and where are smoke detectors required?
I would like to build a deck at my home. What information do I need to bring to the Plan Reviewer?
I would like to build a garage at my home. What information do I need o bring the Plan Reviewer to get my permit?
I would like to build an addition to my home. What information do I need to bring the Plan Reviewer to get my permit?
I'm working on the addition to my home for which I already have a building permit. But I realized I'm going to have to notch some studs/joists as well as bore some holes in a few of these. Are there limits on the amount of notching and boring that can be done?
Does the building permit cover all work required for my project?
How long do I have to finish my project?

Electrical

When is an electrical permit required?
When is a permit not required?
Must I be a licensed electrician to obtain an Electrical Permit?
How can I be sure the electrician I hired is licensed?
What standard do is use to install electrical work?
When should I call for inspection?
Are electrical plans required?
What is the minimum size electrical service I can install?
Can I do the electrical work in my rental property?
Where can I obtain information on state codes?

Plumbing

When is a plumbing permit required?
When is a permit not required? Answer
Must I be a licensed plumber to obtain a Plumbing Permit?
How can I be sure the plumber I hired is licensed?
What standard is used to install a plumbing system?
When should I call for an inspection?

Plan Review

When is a Plan Review required?
When is Site Plan Review required?
What codes are enforced by the City of Kentwood?
Are there local amendments to the building code?
What is the minimum footing depth?
What is the roof snow load?
What is the design wind speed?
What is the seismic Design Class for the City of Kentwood?
What does the energy code require?
Do I need an architect or engineer to obtain a plan review and building permit?
What is required for a set of drawings to be "sealed"?
Must the architect seal each page of a drawing set?
What must I submit to receive a plan review?
How do I calculate the fee?
Are any other approvals or reviews required?
I have an older building that I wish to renovate. Must I comply with Barrier Free requirements?
How can I be sure the architect I hire is licensed?
Where do I find the square foot cost amount used to determine the valuation of my project?

Building

When is a building permit required?

A building permit is required whenever a building is erected, altered, enlarged, structurally repaired, moved, or converted to different use group (as defined in the building code). Additionally, a permit is required for.
  • Replacement windows or doors when the opening size is altered.
  • Pools that are more than 50 square feet and/or more than 24 inches deep.
  • Decks (including porches) slabs on grade
  • Garages or carports.
  • Fences please contact the  Planning Office at 554-0810.
  • Swimming Pools
  • Hot-tubs

When is a permit not required?

A permit is not required for:
  • Sheds less than 120 square feet. You should check with the Planning Office at 554-0810 about zoning restrictions.
  • Painting, wallpapering, or other similar finishes.
  • Window awnings that are supported by the building and that do not project more than 54 inches from the wall.
  • Replacement windows, doors, or storm doors when the opening size is not altered.
  • Prefabricated above ground pools or in ground pools that are less than 50 square feet and less than 24 inches deep.

Must I be a licensed Builder to obtain a Building Permit?

A property owner may obtain a building permit for work to be done at his or her own property without being licensed.
If the work is being done on someone else's residence or by someone else on your residence, then a licensed builder must obtain the permit. Occasionally a contractor will suggest that the homeowner obtain the permit because it's cheaper or easier. BE CAREFUL, permit fees are the same regardless of who obtains the permit, and the applicant to whom the permit is issued is legally responsible for compliance of the work with the Code.

How can I be sure the builder I hired is licensed?

Ask to see his/her license or for his/her license number. Any reputable builder will be glad to give you this information. You can then check the license by following the link "Verify License" to check the status. If you wish, you can also search by name. Read the directions carefully. You may have to use "wildcards" in the search.
Additionally, you may wish to ask the contractor if he/she is a member of the local Home Builders Association or Remodelor's Council. Reputable contractors are interested in maintaining professionalism in the industry.

Does the City of Kentwood have an energy code?

The City of Kentwood enforces the Michigan Uniform Energy Code (Chapter 11 Michigan Residential Building Code 2015).

Are all residential buildings covered by the energy code?

The following non commercial buildings are exempt from the energy code.
  • A residential building or portion of a residential building that has an intended maximum rate of energy usage less than 3.4 Btu/h per square foot of floor area for all purposes.
  • A residential building or a portion of a residential building that is not heated or mechanically cooled.
  • An existing building.
  • An alteration of any existing residential building or portion of a residential building.
  • An addition to any existing residential building.
  • An existing residential building moved into or within the City. A manufactured building shipped for installation in the City is not considered a moved building.
Buildings not meeting one of the exceptions above would have to comply with either the prescriptive requirements or a systems approach for the entire building performance.

What are the prescriptive requirements of the energy code?

In the City of Kentwood which is located in zone 5A, the following minimum requirements would need to be met. Walls R13
Roof/ceiling R30
Floors over unconditioned spaces R21
Slab on grade floors:
  • Unheated slabs R5
  • Heated slabsR10
Crawl space walls R5
Finished lower level walls R5
Exposed basement walls
Greater than 7% of gross exterior
Wall area (GWA) R5
Fenestrations/openings:
  • Up to & including 15% GWA R1.9
  • 15% to 20% GWA R2.5
  • Greater than 20% GWA Refer to the Rules

I received several pieces of paper when I got my permit. What should I do with it?

You received a white computer print out that is the actual Building Permit, a required inspection checklist (the yellow or white sheet attached to the permit), a photo or carbon copy of the completed application, and a heavy paper weather card. The weather card should be posted at the job site so that it is visible from the street. You may also have an approved set of construction drawings, depending on the project. Approved construction drawings should be kept at the job site for you and the Inspector to refer to until the project is completed.

Who do I call to get an inspection?

The Building Inspector is Marshall Barrows at 554-0705. You can call the Building Inspector listed between 7:30 and 9:00AM or 3:30 and 4:00 PM to arrange an inspection. You can call at other times and leave your name and telephone number on voice mail and the inspector will call you back. Include project name, address and building permit number.

What inspections are required?

  • Footing, wall, damp proofing, stone tile sill anchors, and drainage system inspections prior to backfill.
  • Rough building inspection prior to covering.
  • Building
  • Plumbing Rough + Sewer/Water when required
  • Mechanical
  • Electrical

How deep must footings be?

The bottom of footings must be on undisturbed soil a minimum of 42 inches below finished grade (except for certain detached accessory buildings).

Where are egress windows required?

Egress (rescue) windows are required in all sleeping rooms (bedrooms) located in the basement and all sleeping rooms below the fourth floor (4th) of the building. This requirement applies to all newly constructed and remodeled sleeping rooms.

What are the requirements for egress windows?

  • Well size is 9 square feet minimum
  • Well width 36" x 36' Minimum
  • Well opening must allow for the window to open fully.
  • Well requires Ladder effect for egress, wells need ladder or steps if over 44" deep.
Egress windows must have a clear opening area a minimum of 5.7 square feet, a minimum clear opening width of 20 inches, and clear opening height of 24 inches. The sill of the window must be within 44 inches of the finish floor. The window must be open able without tools, special knowledge, or special effort. See the handout Egress Windows for further information.
Security bars and grills are prohibited on egress windows except in certain cases. Egress windows located below grade must have a window well meeting certain requirements. Please contact our Office for further information on these issues.

When and where are smoke detectors required?

Smoke detectors are required in every sleeping area and areas immediately adjacent to that area in addition to being required on each level of the building. Detectors should be AC/DC and interconnected so that all alarms sound at once.
SPECIAL NOTE: The Building Safety Office strongly encourage you to install smoke detectors in the noted locations in existing homes whether or not you are "required" to. Early detection and warning to the building occupants of a fire is the single greatest factor determining you and your family's chances of survival. Secondly, test the operation of your smoke detectors regularly and replace the batteries with fresh ones before they are needed. We suggest that you change your batteries twice a year when you change your clocks for daylight savings time. Thirdly, if you have occasional nuisance alarms, relocate your smoke detector. DON'T disable it. The hassle of a few nuisance alarms is better than putting your entire family at risk.

I would like to build a deck at my home. What information do I need to bring to the Plan Reviewer to get my permit?

A completed building permit application, a site plan showing the proposed location (fill in the various dimensions of the existing structures, etc, and sketch in the proposed deck), a basic sketch of the design of the deck including the sizes and spacing of posts, beams, joists, and decking, as well as steps and guardrails etc.

I would like to build a garage at my home. What information do I need to bring to the Plan Reviewer to get my permit?

You will need to bring a completed building permit application, a site plan showing the proposed location (fill in the various dimensions of the existing structures, etc, and sketch in the proposed garage), a basic sketch of the design of the garage including the sizes and spacing of studs, posts, beams, rafters, and roof decking, as well as footings and siding etc. The handouts Garage (for a conventionally framed garage) may be helpful to you. If you are building your garage from a kit or package from a local lumberyard, just bring the kit information supplied by the lumberyard along with the site plan and application.

I would like to build an addition to my home. What information do I need to bring to the Plan Reviewer to get my permit?

A completed building permit application, a site plan showing the proposed location (fill in the various dimensions of the existing structures, etc, and sketch in the proposed addition), a basic sketch of the design of the addition including the sizes and spacing of studs, posts, beams, floor joists, ceiling joists, rafters, and roof decking, as well as footings and siding etc. The handouts Accessory Buildings (note that your footings will be required to be 42 inches below finish grade) may be helpful to you.

I'm working on the addition to my home for which I already have a building permit. But I realized I'm going to have to notch some studs and floor joists as well as bore some holes in a few. Are there limits on the amount of notching and boring that can be done?

Yes, there are limitations to the amount of notching and boring you can do before you compromise the structural integrity of the building. See the handouts Notching & Boring Joists and Notching & Boring Studs for more information.

Where do I find the square foot cost amount to use to determine the valuation of my project?

Contact the Inspections Department at 554-0700 for estimate of square foot cost. The method of construction may affect the cost of construction.

How long do I have to finish my project?

Building permits are good for one year, however a permit that does not show activity for six months will laps. 

Electrical

When is an electrical permit required?

A person shall not equip a building with electrical conductors or equipment or make an alteration of, change in or addition to, electrical conductors or equipment without receiving a written permit to do the work described.

When is an electrical permit not required?

Electrical work of a minor nature. This being the replacement of faulty existing outlets or switches, or equipment valued at less then $100.00. All new installations require a permit regardless of cost.

Must I be a licensed electrician to obtain an electrical permit?

An electrical permit may be obtained by an electrical contractor, sign contractor, mechanical contractor, pump installer or a homeowner who occupies or will occupy a single-family dwelling or other accessory structures located on the same lot intended for use by the homeowner for which the permit is obtained and who will install the electrical equipment as certified by the homeowner on the permit application.  Contact our office 554-0702 for additional information.

How can I be sure I hired a licensed electrician?

An electrical contractor must be registered with the City of Kentwood to obtain an electrical permit; we will have a copy of their license. You can also contact the state or city that issued the license. Note: the law requires that a licensed journeyman or master electrician be on site while any electrical work is being done. Electrical apprentice cannot work without licensed supervision.

What standard do I use to install electrical work?

Commercial work is installed per the 2014 Michigan Electrical Code. Residential work is installed per the 2015 Michigan Residential Building Code.

When should I call for inspection?

The permit holder should call 554-0702 - 24 hours prior to inspection.
  • Rough inspection is required prior to covering walls or ceiling.
  • Service inspection is required prior to connection to the utility.
  • Final inspection is required prior to occupancy of the building or structure.

Are electrical plans required?

An applicant shall submit a detailed set of plans and specifications with the application for an electrical permit for any wiring or alteration to an electrical system if the system requires installation of electrical equipment that has an amps of more than 400 amperes for service or feeder and if the calculated floor area in a building is more than 3,500 square feet. The enforcing agency may request plans for projects that include an unusual design. The electrical drawings shall include all of the following details:
  • Lighting layout
  • Circuiting
  • Switching
  • Conductor and raceway sizes
  • Wattage schedule
  • Service location and riser diagram
  • Load calculations
  • A proposed method of construction that is drawn with symbols of a standard form.

What is the minimum size electrical service I can install?

The utility company and the Michigan Electrical Code require a 100-amp service.

Can I do the electrical work in my rental property?

No this work must be done by a licensed electrical contractor.

Where can I obtain information on state codes?

The state can be contacted by phone at 517-241-9302.

Plumbing

When is a plumbing permit required?

A person shall not equip a building with a plumbing system or equipment or make an alteration of, change in or addition to, the plumbing system or equipment without receiving a written permit to do the work described.

When is a plumbing permit not required?

Plumbing work of a minor nature. This being the replacement of faulty existing faucets, fixtures, pipes, or equipment. All new installations require a permit regardless of cost.

Must I be a licensed Master Plumber to obtain a plumbing permit?

A plumbing permit may be obtained by a Plumbing Contractor with an active Master Plumbing license, or a homeowner who occupies or will occupy a single-family dwelling or other accessory structures located on the same lot intended for use by the homeowner for which the permit is obtained and who will install the plumbing system as certified by the homeowner on the permit application.

How can I be sure I hired a licensed plumber?

A plumbing contractor must be registered with the City of Kentwood to obtain a plumbing permit; we will have a copy of their license. You can also contact the state or city that issued the license. Note: the law requires that a licensed journeyman or master plumber be on site while any plumbing work is being done. A plumbing apprentice cannot work without licensed supervision.

What standard do I use to install plumbing work?

Commercial work is installed per the 2015 Michigan Plumbing Code. Residential work is installed per the 2015 Michigan Residential Building Code.

When should I call for inspection?

The permit holder should call 554-0704 - 24 hours prior to inspection.

Plan Review

When is a Plan Review required?

A plan review is required whenever a commercial building is erected, altered, enlarged, structurally repaired, moved, or converted to different use group (as defined in the building code).

When is a Site Plan Review required?

A site plan review is required for all new commercial / residential building and additions to existing building, decks, swimming pools and hot tubs. Slabs on grade also require review to insure all easements remain clear after construction.

What Codes are enforced by the City of Kentwood?

  • 2015 Michigan Building Code (MBC)
  • 2012 International Fire Code
  • 2014 Michigan Electrical Code
  • 2015 Michigan Mechanical Code
  • 2015 Michigan Plumbing Code
  • 2015 Michigan Residental Code

Are there local amendments to the building code?

No. State Law no longer allows local jurisdictions to amend the building code. The Michigan Building Code (MBC) that is in effect statewide incorporates the 2015 International Building Code with state amendments.

What is the minimum footing depth?

Minimum footing depth is 42 inches below finish grade. What is the roof snow load? Design roof snow load is 35 pounds per square foot per Figure 1608.2 MBC 2015.

What is the design wind speed?

Design wind speed is 70-90 MPH for three-second gust per Figure 1609 MBC 2015.

What is the Seismic Design Class for City of Kentwood?

The City of Kentwood is located in a Seismic Design Class A.

What does the energy code require?

Buildings shall be designed and constructed in accordance with the Michigan uniform energy code, part 10 rules, R408.31001 to R408.31099.

Do I need an architect or engineer to obtain a plan review and building permit?

Michigan State Law requires that work done on commercial buildings be under the seal and signature of a licensed architect or engineer. The Building Official may waive the requirement for sealed drawings if the proposed work is of very minor nature. It is a very rare occasion that this requirement is waived.

What is required for a set of drawings to be "sealed"?

The registered (licensed) architect or engineer must seal the drawing either an embossed seal or a wet ink seal and then validate that an original signature in ink. A set of plans that is "sealed" therefore contains both the seal and signature of the architect or engineer. Photocopies of a previously sealed drawing are not acceptable. The seal and signature on each set of submitted plans must be original.

Must the architect seal each page of a drawing set?

The architect may seal each individual sheet within the set or they may seal an index page that lists all the pages within the set for which the architect is responsible.

What must I have to receive a plan review?

Information Handout for Plan Review Process.
Open the Handout Review PDF.

How do I calculate the fee?

Permit fees are calculated at $40.00 for the first thousand dollars of construction cost and $6.00 for each additional thousand dollars for projects valued under $199,999.00.  For projects valued between $200,000 and 399,999 the are calculated at $40.00 for the first thousand dollars of construction cost and $6.50 for each additional thousand dollars.  A project that is valued over $400,000.00 the cost is $40.00 for the first thousand dollars of construction and $7.00 for each additional thousand dollars.

Are any other approvals or reviews required?

New buildings and additions require a Site Plan Review. The affect on wetlands and consideration of easements, for storm water and access to utilities must be considered prior to issuing a permit. Engineering may require a bond be secured to insure proper construction.

I have an older building that I wish to renovate. Must I comply with Accessible requirements?

Alterations to any building must comply with the requirements of Michigan Barrier Free Design Rules (BFR) Additionally, an accessible route must be provided to the improved areas. Within the BFR, there are some exceptions for existing buildings meeting certain criteria. Contact our Office or your design Professional to see if these exceptions may apply to your project. If you wish to seek a variance from the BFR, you must go to the Barrier Design Board of the State of Michigan. The City of Kentwood has no authority to grant variances the BFR.
 

How can I be sure the architect I hired is licensed?

Ask to see his/her license or for his/her license number. Any reputable architect or engineer will be glad to give you this information.

Where do I find the square foot cost amount used to determine valuation of my project?

Contact the Inspections Department at 554-0700 for estimate of square foot cost. The method of construction may affect the cost of construction.