Frequently Asked Questions

Who should apply for a building permit?

You may obtain permits in your own name. However, it is strongly recommended your properly licensed contractor pull the permit as the responsible party so the city can assist you better in gaining compliance for any defective work.

Why do I need a curb cut permit?

A curb cut is a break in a curb allowing access from the roadway and across the sidewalk to a legal parking space within the property line. Curb cuts must not be installed too close to intersections, where exiting cars can interfere with traffic flow and possibly cause accidents. Also, curb cuts must not be located in bus stop zones or too near fire hydrants, trees, utility poles, guy wires, man holes, or street signs. The Building and Safety Department permit process ensures that curb cuts comply with the rules. LMC Chapter 14.75.

When I bulid a new residential or commercial building do I need a sidewalk permit?

On public streets, yes. All new sidewalks, in the public right-of-way, require a sidewalk permit. If you already have a curb cut permit approved, your sidewalk is included with that permit. Sidewalk permits can be obtained from the Development Services Center on the 2nd floor of the City/County Building at 555 South 10th Street.

Sidewalks are required on all private streets unless waived by the subdivision agreement. Contact your subdivision developer for more information.

Why do I need a sign permit?

A permit is required for most permanent, temporary, and promotional signs in the City of Lincoln to ensure that the size, color, and location of the sign complies with the City's Zoning Ordinance. The construction and method of attachment of permanent signs must comply with the building codes. An electrical permit is required for illuminated signs. Freestanding temporary signs are not allowed, except for certain real estate signs (handled separately). Temporary signs must be renewed yearly.

For more information, call Mike Peterson at 402-441-6445.

How much does a sign permit cost?

Contact the Development Services Center at 402-441-6442 for sign permit fees.

When do I need a permit for a renovation project?

You may need a permit for the following:

  • Moving a sink
  • Demolishing a load-bearing wall
  • Changing the house's roofline
  • Punching in a new window or door
  • Altering the footprint of your house
  • Installing new electrical wiring
  • Parking your roll-off dumpster on a public street
  • Construction or placement of a new storage shed
  • Tents for the sale of merchandise may require a tent permit
  • New swimming pool

A permit may not be required for the following:

  • Laying in new shingles on an existing roof.(if not putting on or replacing roof sheeting (ply)
  • Parking your roll-off dumpster on your own property (however, if you happen to live in an association-controlled neighborhood, make sure you do not run afoul of your own housing association's rules)
  • Putting in hardwood floor
  • Installing carpeting
  • Replacing doors or windows on a one-for-one basis
  • Upgrading your countertops or any other cosmetic improvements
  • Freshening up the exterior with new siding
  • Installation of gutters
  • Backyard recreational play equipment
What do I need to bring to your office in order to get a permit for a garage?

Provide a site plan (birds-eye view) of your property, showing the location of the building with distances from property lines and existing structures.

Also provide a construction plan showing how the building is constructed.

Where do I obtain permits?

The Building and Safety Department, 555 South 10th Street, Room 203 (second floor, northeast corner) between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weekdays. If a registered contractor will be doing the work, the contractor must obtain the necessary permits. It is the homeowner's responsibility to ensure permits are obtained.

Where is your office located?

555 South 10th Street, Room 203, Lincoln, NE 68508

Do I need a plan to get a building permit?

Yes, the detail would depend on what you are constructing.

What is a site plan?

A site plan is a detailed drawing of proposed improvements to a given lot.

How do I locate my property lines? Can someone in the city come find my lot lines?

Typically, but not always, the property stakes are located 2 to 4 feet inside (toward the house) of the sidewalk.

It is possible that you received a survey at the time you bought your house. If not, you can hire a private land surveyor.

Do I need a permit for replacing windows?

Yes, a building permit is required for replacing windows. See the window replacement policy.

What is the depth and width of a footing?

The depth of the footing is 36 inches below grade and the width of the footing is determined by the size of the structure or deck. The Plan Review staff can assist you in determining the size of footing.

Do I need a permit to finish my basement?

Yes, a permit is required. You will need two sets of plans to show the whole basement layout and include the following information on the plan:

  • Label use of rooms;
  • Window sizes in bedrooms (verify egress);
  • 2 x 4 studs, 16" or 24" (on center) and treated bottom plates;
  • Minimum of R-13 insulation in exterior walls;
  • Ceiling lights;
  • Smoke detectors in the main area and bedrooms;
  • Fan in bathroom (vent to outside);
  • Carbon monoxide alarms on all floors;
  • Show the location of the furnace and water heater
  • Separate electrical, mechanical and plumbing permits are required.
Do I need a permit for a deck?

Yes, a building permit is required. A site plan is required as well as building plans.

Do I need a permit for a swimming pool?

A building permit is required if the depth of the swimming pool is more than 24 inches deep.

Do I need a permit for a fence?

A fence under 6-feet 4-inches does not need a building permit. However, we ask that you stay on your property and if you are close to a street, then you should contact traffic engineering to verify that you do not violate any site obstruction regulations.

A quick guide to fences

Do I need a permit for a shed?

Yes, all sheds require a permit regardless of size. A cement slab does not require a building permit, however, because the shed does, it would be best to receive a building permit for the shed prior to pouring the slab to make sure that the location of the shed complies with the zoning ordinance.

Do I need a permit for a new roof?

It depends on what you are doing to your roof. If you are just replacing shingles, then no permit is required. If you are replacing wood, then a building permit would be required.

How long is a building permit good for?

A residential building permit is good for two years. Work will need to start 120 days after the permit is issued and cannot be abandoned for 180 days.

A commercial building permit is good as long as work begins within 180 days from the date the permit is issued. If work is suspended or abandoned for a period of 180 days after work has started, the permit will expire.

What are the setbacks for a detached shed or garage?

Locating a detached shed or garage on your property can be confusing and complicated. The Plan Review staff can assist you with trying to locate the building as close to where you desire it to be within the zoning guidelines. To assist you properly, please bring a site plan down to our office and we will be happy to assist you.

Do I need a permit for a tree fort/house?

A tree fort of limited size and scope does not require a building permit. Contact the Building and Safety Department (402-441-7521) to verify that your fort does not go beyond what is normally considered a playground type of structure that is exempt by the current building code.

How do I call for an inspection?

You can call 402-441-8213 (contractors) or 402-441-8384 (homeowners) and leave your address, permit number and type of inspection you are requesting or you may request an inspection online.

How far in advance do I need to call for an inspection?

If you request an inspection before 12:00 noon, you can receive your inspection the next business day.

When is a State of Nebraska licensed architect or engineer required?

Many small-scale building projects in Nebraska may be designed by persons who are not licensed as architects or engineers. The size limit on buildings that can be designed by non-licensed persons is based on square footage. The square footage requirements vary based on the type of use. For more information, see the State of Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects website and their Before you Build brochure.

Electrical Permits

When is an electrical permit required?

An electrical permit is required to install any new wiring. Electrical Permits are also required when changing out the following equipment: Air Conditioners, Heat Pumps, Furnaces (both electric and gas), hard wired appliances such as garbage disposals, dishwashers, water heaters etc.

How do I obtain a registration to do electrical work in Lincoln?

See the Electrical Registration Renewal form to renew a current registration, or to register a new license with Lincoln. Please include your current State of Nebraska Electrical License number, name license is issued to, address where the registration is to be sent. You will also need to include a check payable to the City of Lincoln for the total cost of licenses reflected on the application form.

What can I legally wire as a non-licensed individual?

A "homeowner" (non-licensed applicant) can wire branch circuits within a stand-alone dwelling that they currently own and occupy as their principal residence. This does NOT include the following: Any wiring within a condominium or townhouse, swimming pools or hot tubs. New, repair or replacements of service equipment, and dwellings that are being newly constructed.

How many inspections will I need on a project as a non-licensed applicant?

There are typically two inspections for wiring projects:

  1. Rough In inspection: This is the inspection that is done when all the wiring, boxes, and connections within the boxes have been completed.
  2. Final inspection: This inspection is done once all of the final connections to devices and equipment have been completed.
How can I found out if my project is under state, county or city jurisdiction and when do I add trip charges on a permit?

This map reflects the incorporated villages that are inspected by the State of Nebraska's Electrical Division, as well as showing the boundaries for the over three mile limit, 3-8 mile limit, and beyond 8 mile limits to add the county fees to a permit application.

Where can I get a copy of the City Electrical Ordinance?

City of Lincoln Electrical Ordinance

Plumbing and Gas Permits

When are plumbing and gas permits required?

Permits and inspections are required any time a plumbing system or fixture is installed, replaced or relocated. A fixture is a stool, lavatory, sink, garbage disposal, dishwasher, tub, shower, water heater or similar equipment. A permit is also needed any time a water pipe, drain pipe or vent is replaced, installed or relocated.

Are permits necessary for lawn sprinkler systems and swimming pools?

Permits and inspections are required on underground lawn sprinkler systems, water softeners, swimming pools, water-cooled air conditioners, and heat pumps. All permits must be issued prior to starting the work, except in the case of emergency weekend work or after office hours. At that time, a permit must be obtained as soon as possible after the installation.

What does not require permits?

Any minor repair work does not require a plumbing permit. Minor repair work is repairing a damaged or leaking P-Trap; opening up and cleaning drain pipes; repairing and/or resetting existing fixtures; replacing faucets, faucet washers or sump pumps.

Who is responsible for obtaining permits?

Regardless if the property is commercial, industrial, apartments or a single-family residence, it is the responsibility of the owner of the property to see that the proper plumbing permits are obtained for the work being done.

Who may take out permits?

A plumbing permit can only be issued to a property registered master plumber of the City of Lincoln, or to the owner/occupant of a single family dwelling.

How much do plumbing permits cost?

Fees are based on the number of fixtures installed. See the plumbing permit application.

Where do I obtain permits?

The Building and Safety Department, 555 South 10th Street, Room 203 (second floor, northeast corner) between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weekdays. If a registered contractor will be doing the work, the contractor must obtain the necessary permits. It is the homeowner's responsibility to ensure permits are obtained.

All new plumbing and gas work requires a permit from the Building and Safety Department EXCEPT minor repairs, which include only the following:

  • Repairs involving only the working parts of a valve or faucet
  • The clearance of stoppages
  • Repair of leaks or replacement of defective valves or faucets, provided that no changes are made in the piping to the fixture or appliance.

Mechanical Permits

When are mechanical permits required?

A permit from your Mechanical Inspector is required for the installation or alteration of:

  • Furnaces
  • Air-conditioning systems
  • Ventilation
  • Exhaust
  • Refrigeration systems and their related components

Failure to obtain the required permit is a violation of the law.

A phone call to the Building & Safety Department is the best way to determine if you need a permit.

Permits are not required for repairs of equipment. Common repairs may include replacement of circuit boards and electrical components, blower motors, compressors.

When are permits required?

Permits and inspections are required any time a HVAC system is installed, replaced or relocated. Common equipment that requires a permit will include furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, rest room exhaust fans, kitchen exhaust vents, and laundry dryer exhaust vents.

What does not require permits?

Permits are not required for repairs of equipment. Common repairs may include replacement of circuit boards and electrical components, blower motors, compressors.

Who may take out permits?

A Mechanical permit can only be issued to a property registered Master Mechanical Contractor of the City of Lincoln, or to the owner/occupant of a single family dwelling.

How much do mechanical permits cost?

Fees are based on the number of fixtures installed. See the plumbing permit application.

Housing Preservation / Apartment Licensing

What do inspectors look for when they do an inspection?

The Housing Inspector is enforcing the International Property Maintenance Code and amendments that have been adopted by the City of Lincoln. The items include, but are not limited to, the exterior and interior building maintenance, zoning, electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation and debris on premise. Life safety codes such as exiting, egress, and emergency lighting and fire protection are also enforced.

How long do I have to make the repairs that are required in a notice?

This will depend on the extent of the violation. Some items can be repaired in a few weeks while others need more time for bids, etc. The inspector is familiar with the processes required to make various repairs and will work with the landlord or owner to complete those repairs.

Are there any costs to the property owner for re-inspections done by the inspector?

The initial inspection and the follow-up inspection are not charged. The City has adopted a $75 inspection fee that will be charged for additional inspections that are required due to the repairs that have not been completed.

What happens if the owner does not make the repairs?

If the repairs are not made, the violations will be referred to the City Attorney and a court appearance will be scheduled. The County Court will assess court costs and a fine may be imposed by the judge.

What am I required to do if I want to sell my apartment, hotel, motel, or bed & breakfast building that has a permit?

Every owner of a property shall tender to a prospective buyer, at the time of the transfer of ownership of such property, a copy of a valid certificate of compliance or a notice of deficiencies, which shall include a copy of any notice and order issued pursuant to the Lincoln Minimum Housing Code or any other applicable law or ordinance, issued by the Building Official. Please review the Certificate of Compliance Checklist.

What am I required to do if I buy an apartment, hotel, motel or Bed & Breakfast?

If the building has 3 or more units and is in the City limits of Lincoln, it is required to have a permit to operate. The owner is required to apply for a permit within 30 days of the closing of the property with the Building and Safety Department.

How many unrelated individuals can live in a residence or an apartment?

The Lincoln Zoning restricts the occupancy of any single family residence to be occupied by a family and up to two unrelated individuals. If none of the occupants are related, this restricts the total number to 3 individuals.