Guide to Obtain Commercial Building Permits in Columbus Ohio

A Guide To Acquiring Commercial Permits In Columbus, Ohio

Navigating the permit acquisition process is an important first step for business owners to operate legally and successfully. Understanding the specific regulations and guidelines set by the city of Columbus is vital for starting a new business, expanding an existing operation, or making changes to your commercial property.

By obtaining the necessary permits provided by Express Permits, you demonstrate your commitment to responsible business practices and foster a positive relationship with local authorities. This guide aims to demystify the permit acquisition process, empowering you to make informed decisions that contribute to the growth and longevity of your business in Columbus, Ohio.


The first step in any construction project is acquiring the appropriate permits. In Columbus, City Code requirements go beyond permits in certain instances. If your project falls within a historic district or commission area, a design review of the proposed project is necessary before obtaining permits. Make sure to refer to the Online Zoning Map to determine if your project is located in one of these areas. For projects in historic districts or commission areas, a Certificate of Appropriateness is required.

Here is a list of available permits provided by the City of Columbus:

  1. New Construction, Additions, Alterations, and Accessory Structures: To construct any new addition, alteration, or accessory structure for a commercial or mixed-use building, a building permit is necessary. Depending on the project's scope, additional permits may be required.
  2. Phased Construction: Phased construction permits are typically associated with new construction projects and allow for the fast-tracking of a project. Prior approval from the chief building official is required to obtain these permits. Although the fees for this process are higher than standard plan review and permit fees, projects with three or more phases may qualify for a reduced square footage fee.
  3. Tents: If you plan to erect a tent larger than 400 square feet, a building permit is required.
  4. Roof, Siding, Doors, and Windows: When replacing a roof, siding, exterior doors, or windows, you must obtain the appropriate permit. If you are replacing multiple items simultaneously, they can be covered under a single permit. It's important to complete all work before requesting an inspection to avoid additional trips for inspections.
  5. Fence and Masonry Walls: Constructing a fence taller than 6 feet or any masonry walls (regardless of height) requires a building permit.
  6. Deck: If you are building a deck that is not associated with a larger construction project, a building permit is necessary.
  7. Patio: Installing a patio on an existing building requires a building permit.
  8. Parking Lot: Constructing a parking lot necessitates a building permit. If you plan to install lighting, an electrical permit is also required.
  9. Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing: For new construction, additions, alterations, accessory structures, or replacement of existing specialty trade systems, separate permits are required for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work. In some cases, an independent plan review may be necessary if the work is not covered by a building permit.
  10. Minor Limited Scope: Minor limited scope permits are associated with minor repair work on existing commercial or mixed-use structures. These permits require a single inspection of 15 minutes or less and do not require plan approval. Refer to the MLS List for more information.
  11. Medical Gas: If you are installing medical gas systems, a separate plan review and permit are necessary. Use the Medical Gas Application to complete this type of project.
  12. Advance Construction Start: An advance construction start permit allows owners to begin work on an existing building before plan approval. This permit is intended for specific types of work, such as fire damage repairs, interior alterations, or tenant improvement projects. It does not include inspections and is subject to a follow-up building permit.
  13. Secure Permit: When a building is damaged, abandoned, and not secure, a secure permit is required. This permit is valid for three months and must be renewed until the building is safe to occupy.
  14. Demolition: If you are demolishing commercial or mixed-use buildings and their accessory structures, a demolition permit is necessary. Ensure that a contractor licensed or registered with the City of Columbus performs the work.
  15. Fire Suppression: Fire suppression permits may be required for commercial and mixed-use building projects, and a separate plan review may be necessary.
  16. Fire Alarm, Detection, Suppression, and Activation Devices: For commercial and mixed-use projects, permits for fire alarms, detection systems, suppression systems, and activation devices may be required. A separate plan review might also be necessary.
  17. Repair-and-Replace Permit: Repair-and-replace permits are typically required for modifying or repairing existing equipment in commercial and mixed-use projects.

For links to permit applications or for more information on acquiring permits in Columbus, you can visit The City of Columbus website here.


Navigating the permit acquisition process can be complex, but at Express Permits, we are here to simplify the journey. By understanding the various types of permits required for your commercial construction project in Columbus, Ohio, you can ensure compliance with local codes and regulations.

Our team is ready to assist you throughout the permit application process, providing guidance and support to help you obtain the necessary permits efficiently and effectively. Contact Express Permits today to streamline your construction permit journey and set your project in motion!

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