Building Permits

Why do I need a building Permit?

Permits enable us to inspect work performed by a contractor or yourself to make sure it’s safe and meets the minimum standards of the building code. This prevents you, your customers, and citizens from being harmed by faulty installation while also allowing us to verify a contractor’s license and keep a record of the work performed.

If you don’t get a permit for work performed on your building, you may run into problems when trying to insure or sell it. Real Estate agents usually check to make sure permits were obtained for repair work. You may also run into problems if a contractor performs work on your home without the proper license. If you try to take a contractor to court and he doesn’t have a license to perform the work and didn’t get a Building Permit, it will be hard for the judge to rule in your favor.

If work is performed without a permit, you may be fined or your permit fee may be doubled. Contractors working without a permit may be reported to the State Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

What types of work do not require a building permit? 

The following is a listing of work that does not require a permit:

  • Painting

  • Wallpapering

  • Tiling

  • Flooring & Carpeting

  • Retaining Walls not over 4 feet in height and not providing structural support

  • Installing Cabinets and (or) Countertops

  • Swimming Pools less than 24 inches deep, not exceeding 5,000 gallon capacity and entirely above ground

What types of work require a building permit?

It can be confusing trying to figure out what requires a Building Permit and what does not. If you are planning to do remodeling or other work on your home, there are several things that do require a Building Permit and Inspections. The following are a few examples.

  • Roofing – Installing new Shingles or other roofing materials

  • Windows – Replacing Windows

  • Siding - Vinyl, Wood, or Aluminum Siding or Trim Boards

  • Sheetrock – Replacing or installing sheetrock to remodel or finish an unfinished room

  • Framing – Adding new interior walls or extending an existing wall, creating a new door or opening in an existing wall

  • Plumbing – Replacing a sewer line or water line, adding plumbing to a room that did not previously have it, replacing water heater, installing an irrigation system

  • Electrical – Installing and (or) replacing wiring, adding outlets, lights, and (or) breakers

  • Mechanical – Installing heating and air units or equipment, installing ductwork

  • Gas – Installing or replacing gas lines

  • Any Structural Work

  • Swimming Pools (including Above Grounds) – Greater than 24 inches deep and water capacity is greater than 5,000 Gallons

  • Storage Buildings, Garages, and Carports

  • Fences over 6 ft. in height (Fences under 6 ft. in height, while not requiring a building permit, are subject to planning & zoning review and approval)

What types of work do not require a building permit?

The following is a listing of work that does not require a permit:

  • Painting

  • Wallpapering

  • Tiling

  • Flooring & Carpeting

  • Retaining Walls less than 4 feet in height and not providing structural support

  • Installing Cabinets and (or) Countertops

  • Swimming Pools less than 24 inches deep, not exceeding 5,000 gallon capacity and entirely above ground

Can I work on my own home without hiring a contractor?

Yes, there are some types of work the State will allow you to do on your own home. This home must be your primary residence and Sumter County Tax Records must list you as the owner. (However, if you own rental property, you cannot perform any construction work on these properties, you must hire a Licensed Contractor to work on these structures).

State regulations require you to live in the home you wish to work on for a period of at least 2 years. You must complete an Owner/Builder Affidavit (Disclosure Statement) and have it recorded with the Sumter County Register of Deeds before you can obtain a Building Permit.  A homeowner is allowed to do any type of remodel or repair work on their primary residence only.  This includes building, electrical, mechanical (heating and air), plumbing or gas. Any building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing and/or gas work not done by the homeowner must be completed by a State Licensed Contractor.  You must obtain a Building Permit for any work that requires a Building Permit before starting the work.  All Building Permits require Inspections by the Sumter City/County Building Department's Inspectors.

Advice to consider when hiring a contractor:

  • Always have a contract in writing outlining exactly what the contractor is supposed to do. Make sure you both sign it.

  • Always check to see if a contractor has the proper licenses before he or she starts the work (See information below).

  • Make sure the contractor obtains a permit for any work he will perform and gets the building plans approved by the Building Department prior to starting the work.

  • It’s ok to ask for references of work the contractor has done in the past. Call the references to find out if the customers were satisfied.

  • Warning: Homeowners, if you hire a contractor and they ask you to purchase the Building Permit for him or her please consider this as an indicator that all is not well. When or if this happens, contact the Building Department Immediately at (803) 774-1600.

  • Also, if a contractor you have hired asks for money up front to purchase materials, it is advisable that you inform the contractor that you will give partial payment up front only after he presents to you a copy of the Building Permit for your project. The remaining balance will be paid only after you receive a copy of the approved final inspection.

(NOTE: This advice given is from past experiences by this department and is not a reflection on any single contractor)

How do I find out if a contractor has a license or is the right type?

You can check a Contractor’s state license or registration online at the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation at (Click on licensee lookup). General Contractors and electrical, plumbing and mechanical contractors are listed in the "Commercial Contractors" category.  For Residential, click on Residential Builders and electrical, plumbing and mechanical contractors should be listed. In addition to a State License, Contractor’s are required to have a Sumter City and/or County Business License.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact the Building Department at (803) 774-1617, or you can visit our office, open Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:00pm located in the Liberty Center at 12 West Liberty Street, Sumter, SC 29150.

Permit Fees:

Commercial Permit Fee Calculator*
*Microsoft Excel Required

If you need assistance calculating your fees, contact Debbie Rauch at (803) 774-1617.

Helpful Links:

Forms & Applications

American Planning Association
Becoming a Specialty Contractor
Becoming a Residential Home Builder
International Code Council
Municipal Association of SC
SC Dept. of Labor & Licensing Regulations
SC Building Codes
Sumter County Government
US Census Bureau

Building Board of Appeals:

Download the application below to request a hearing before the Sumter City/County Board Of Appeals with regard to decisions and determinations made by the Building Official relative to the application and interpretation of the Building Codes. The cost to file this application is $125.

Application for Appeal