Building departments are responsible for issuing permits for building projects, inspecting construction projects, and managing zoning issues. These departments provide information about certificates of occupancy, building codes, construction codes, inspections, safety codes, violations, permits, community planning, zoning laws, regulations, ordinances, maps and land use. They ensure that commercial buildings do not encroach upon residential neighborhoods. Many departments issue permits for exterior signage on commercial buildings and demolition. Building departments also issue and monitor standards for local contractors by regulating licenses.
Along with ensuring buildings in a municipality are safe, these departments support the quality of life for those who are visiting or living in cities where the departments are based. By following local building codes, municipalities maintain consistency in building styles, sizes, and designs. Some building departments work with historical commissions to maintain, conserve and rehabilitate important architectural structures. With growing concerns for environmentally-friendly architecture, they also monitor the materials used during construction. They are aware of land features and ensure the preservation of natural resources during construction or demolition.
Most building departments are at the local level of government, and most have the same responsibilities. The ultimate goal of these departments is to maintain safety, enforce zoning laws, and provide permits for new construction and remodeling projects. The size of the department will vary, based on the size of the community. In smaller communities, one building department will handle all planning, permits, zoning and inspections. In larger cities, there may be several offices and departments to handle varying components. Some building departments have individual offices that work with contractors specializing in environmentally friendly construction. While all communities have slightly different rules and regulations in their departments, they all have the same goal: to maintain safety.