When do I need a building permit in Morgan County?
There seems to be a lot of confusion among area residents about when a building permit is required, especially for seemingly small jobs around the house.
Depending on whether you live in the county or in the incorporated limits of Berkeley Springs or Paw Paw, the answer posed by the question in the headline is quite different.
In an effort to shed some light on the subject, The Morgan Messenger asked County Planner Alma Gorse what jobs require residents of the county to apply for a building permit.
Gorse pointed us to a definition in the county’s Flood Plain ordinance, available on the county web site:
“Improvement Location Permit: A permit that is required for any improvement, addition or alteration of a structure in excess of $1,000.”
Gorse went on to explain that any job that adds over a thousand dollars of value to a property requires a building permit. This is true regardless of whether the materials and labor costs are less than $1,000.
Asked who determines whether a particular improvement requires a building permit, Gorse said it is determined by the person issuing the permit.
Peggy Oakes at the county commission issues residential improvement location (building) permits and Gorse issues commercial and industrial improvement location permits.
“That $1,000 doesn’t always hold true. Every situation is different,” Oakes said.
For instance, she explained the county assessor’s office requires a building permit for the addition of any structure such as a car port or a pre-made shed, even if it doesn’t cost $1,000, because it adds value to the property.
Another example is a sidewalk or ramp for a handicapped family member. Because the ramps must meet certain specifications by state and federal law, a permit is required.
The cost of a building permit varies depending on the job. Some improvements such as renovations to fences, roofs, siding and driveways fall under a flat fee of $20.
The cost of a permit for other improvements such as adding structures such as decks, garages, outbuildings or swimming pools, are based on the square footage of the job. The exception is active farm outbuildings which are charged the flat $20 fee.
A fee schedule and application for a building permit are available on the county web site.
“As the county planner for 15 years, it has always been my goal to make the building permit process as painless as possible for the citizens of Morgan County,” Gorse said.
If you are unsure if you need a building permit for a particular job, contact Peggy Oakes or Alma Gorse at the Morgan County Courthouse.
Town of Bath
The Town of Bath requires a building permit for almost anything you do inside or outside including landscaping, if done by a professional.
“If you need to fix a broken step or paint a deck, you need a building permit,” Gene Kilduff of the Bath Police Department said. This is also true for remodeling jobs inside the home.
The town also wants to know before you take down a tree or remove a wall as part
of a landscaping project, he said.
“The cost is $15 for the first $10,000 invested and $1 for each additional $1,000,” Kilduff said.
In addition to a building permit, all contractors working in the Town of Bath must have a business license issued by the town.
All building permits must be approved by the town council.
If you have questions about town building permits, call the Bath Police Department.
Paw Paw Town Recorder Regina Brack said a building permit is necessary if you alter the square footage of your home in any way.
This includes adding a deck, porch, room addition or out building. Any permanent structure requires a building permit, she said.
Out buildings must be within five feet of your property line. If you install a fence, you must be able to walk around the outside of the fence and still be on your own property, Brack said.
A building permit in Paw Paw costs $25 and goes before the town council for approval.