Electrical Permits: Things You Should Know

Things You Should Know


When it comes to building something in the city of Philadelphia there are a few essential things you will need. Many of these essentials come from L&I, the Department of Licenses and Inspections. The key here is understanding what you will need, and how to get it. In addition to any Building or Zoning Permits you may need for your project, you may also need separate Plumbing and Electrical permits. Depending on the scope of the work being done you may be eligible for an EZ permit. In this case, you will be able to get your permit over the counter, without having plans drawn up. EZ permits can be obtained for new construction single family homes, residential duplexes, and alterations to under 2,000 sqft.

If you qualify for an EZ permit you can apply in person, or online via mechservices@phila.gov.


What You Will Need

(1). Application

(2). Tax Clearance for contractor

(3). Proof of insurance for contractor

(4). Check to cover cost of fees (See Chart)


Many of our client’s projects don’t qualify for EZ permits, which is part of the reason they hire us, getting your plans approved can be tricky. The City provides resources to help you understand what it is they are looking for, but interpreting these checklists is a bit like solving a riddle. Luckily most experienced Plumbers and Electricians have mastered these riddles and should be able to get you the plans you need for an approved permit. 

As the city’s only private resource for all things zoning and permitting, we (Philadelphia Zoning) pride ourselves on being a straightforward and reliable source of information. In the vein, we have put together a short list of criteria we find is the most important to get plans approved.


Electrical plan requirements:

  1. Three (3) sets of a professional quality plan not less than 1/16, 1/8 or 1/4 scale. (Sets must be stapled with sheets of same size and quality.)
  2. The minimum sheet size is 11″x17“, maximum 36”x 46”  
  3. The plans must be black and white or blueprints. No pencil or free drawings will be accepted  
  4. The plans must be double line drawings of the entire building
  5. All rooms must be labeled as to their use. (e.g. bedroom, kitchen, office, etc)
  6. All locations and sizes of doors, windows, stairways, corridors, etc. must be shown  Ceiling types/ratings and height of the rooms must be shown  Wall and partition types/ratings and locations must be identified, (e.g. 8″ cement masonry block wall, plaster ceilings, etc)

Engineer seals are required on plans for the following:

  1. Any installation where the connected load is 100 K.W. and /or 400 amps or more
  2. When upgrading service in existing building when the load is 100K.W. and/or 400 amps or more.
  3. Alterations that involve a change in occupancy class or a change in the path of egress.


New Construction Inspections

Another tricky distinction is if you are working on a new construction project you will need to apply for what is called a “rough-in” permit.  When you apply for a building permit the City reviews your plans and gives the okay to file your application for an Electrical Permit. A preliminary permit will be issued for the rough-in work. 


Once the framing and basic electrical work have been completed the City will request an inspection. This is called the “framing inspection” which happens after the roof, framing, fire-blocking, firestopping, draft-stopping and bracing are in place and all electrical wiring is roughed-in.  If your project passes this inspection then you can apply for another Electrical Permit which will allow you to finish all work for the fit-out. For instance, depending on the intended function of the space there will be a variety of additional electrical work needed to complete the design.  


Once the walls are filled in and before the project is complete a second inspection is required to assess all electrical fixtures and devices. If this inspection is approved you will have a final walk-through to inspect all electrical, plumbing and mechanical work done on the property. This final inspection is to ensure the property is safe for the public. It is also important for the city records so they can make appropriate decisions about zoning permits.


The Secret to Success

Applying for permits, licenses, zoning, or use variances can be overwhelming, frustrating, and just downright difficult. But the city isn’t out to get you, they want you to get the paperwork you need. They want to help you. But there are rules, and those rules are not simple.

All the information you need and step by step and instructions are online. But navigating these resources isn’t always easy, or straight-forward. That’s why we are here. The zoning code can be like another language, so we try to be the translators making complicated rules and procedures simple and easy. We want to empower people to use our resources and file permits themselves. But if it just doesn’t seem worth the time and effort for you, then we are always happy to do it for you.


Philly Zoning Team
1 Comment
  • Eduardo Franco
    Posted at 10:00 am, August 7, 2018

    I need help to take permits for small eletric and plumbing works I will perform by

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