How Much Does a Permit Cost?
We here at Philadelphia Zoning like to think we have answers for you. We tell you we can saw through forests of red tape, and we mean it. But sometimes, we get a question that has about a hundred different answers. “How much does a permit cost?” is one of those questions.
There are a few reasons why such a simple question has so many different answers.
First, getting a permit — as we’ve previously discussed — isn’t a one-step process. There are fees for every application form; and, if you need to appeal a decision, there’s a fee for that, too.
Second, there are different types of permit. We deal primarily with (of course) zoning permits, but the projects we take on often require us to get building permits, sign permits, and — once in a while — even electrical or plumbing permits. As you might guess, each of these types of permits costs a different amount at every stage: A different amount for each application, a different amount for each appeal (if you need to appeal), and a different amount for each permit itself.
Finally, once you reach that final stage — paying for your permit itself — you’ll find that there are different fees for the same type of permit, depending on the specific nature of that permit. What this means is that there is no single fee for all zoning permits, for example: there are several different fee possibilities, depending on what kind of zoning permit you want to get yourself.
Let’s go with an example:
Say you want to build a new house on a lot you own. The lot you own is zoned for a home with one family. You want to live there yourself with your family; so to this point everything is working out. However, you also want a roof deck, and that will make the house a little bit taller than the zoning code allows single-family homes to be.
In summary: you want to build a single-family home on a single-family lot, but make the house a little bit taller than is allowed on a single-family lot.
This means you’ll apply for a zoning permit. The application will cost $25. Because you’re asking to do something not allowed by the zoning code — making a particularly tall house — this application will be refused. You can appeal that decision, of course — and that appeal will cost you $125. Once you’ve successfully appealed the decision, you can get your permit. The permit will cost $150 (the cost of any zoning permit for a new single-family build), plus $200 (because you were allowed to build a little taller): so, $350 for the permit itself.
Here you might think, “Oh, okay. I have a rough idea of what permits costs now.” And you don’t! Because they cost all kinds of different things. We made this handy chart to help you figure out some basic permit costs. If that’s too easy for you, you can try going to the source: The Permits and License Fees page.
Happy fee calculations!