Building Codes Bureau

What is a Building Permit and What Good Does it Do? | Frequently Asked Questions

Is a State Building Permit Needed?

The first step is to determine whether or not a state building permit is needed. Briefly, in areas outside cities certified to issue their own permits, state law exempts: (a) farm and ranch buildings; (b) mining buildings on mining property; (c) petroleum refineries and pulp and paper mills (except office and shop buildings); (d) residential buildings containing less than five dwelling units (except when serving transient guests); and (e) private garages and private storage buildings used for the owner's own use (not part of a commercial enterprise or business) from the need to obtain a state building permit. If in doubt as to whether or not your building must be covered by a state building permit,
PLEASE CALL THE Building Codes Bureau at (406) 841-2056. For clarity the Building Codes Bureau will be referred to as BUREAU
throughout this pamphlet.

The next step is to obtain a state building permit, which requires submittal of construction plans and a Building Permit/Plan Review Application to the BUREAU for review and approval. Applicants are encouraged to contact the BUREAU in the planning stages of their project. Complete construction plans and details will expedite the plan review and issuance of a building permit. Use of design professionals to prepare complete construction plans and consider cost effective alternatives to complex code requirements is necessary on many projects and helpful on most projects. In this document you will find an example of a site plan, floor plan, handicap restroom and an exterior wall section, which illustrate the types of information required for plan review.

The next step in obtaining a building permit is the plan review phase. Two to three (2 - 3) weeks is the average time required for the plan review process, if plans are complete, depending on the current workload of the BUREAU.

Screening letters are mailed to applicants, along with the amount of the Building Permit/Plan Review fee. The fee is generally one to two percent (1% - 2%) of the building valuation, and will be calculated by the BUREAU. Following receipt of payment of the plan review portion of the building permit fee, the BUREAU will complete the plan review and will send a plan review letter to the applicant. When all plan review comments have been satisfactorily addressed and the fees paid, a state building permit will be issued. A building permit is required prior to starting construction. Buildings started before a building permit is obtained may be assessed an investigation fee and may subsequently require significant corrective construction. NOTE: The Bureau has adopted the 2000 editions of the INTERNATIONAL BUILDING CODE (IBC) and INTERNATIONAL RESIDENTIAL CODE (IRC) with an effective date of September 27, 2002.

For a one year period starting on September 27, 2002, or until the 2003 editions of the IBC and IRC are adopted, whichever comes first, owners and design professionals may choose to submit projects for plan review designed either to the requirements of the IBC or IRC or to the requirements of the 1997 Uniform Building Code or the 1995 CABO One and Two Family Dwelling Code. Projects shall be designed specifically to one code and shall not incorporate requirements or provisions from more than one code in the same design.

The final step is construction, inspection and approval of the building. This is the ultimate goal of the owner, designer, contractor, and the BUREAU. It is advisable to take photographs during construction to assist in documenting code compliance. It is the responsibility of the permit holder to call the building inspector at least 24 hours before a requested inspection, and that the inspector have 72 hours from the notification to perform the requested inspection. (NOTE: Building permits must be issued on all projects requiring a building permit before plumbing, mechanical, or electrical permits can be issued and before work authorized under these permits may start.)