Frequently Asked Questions

What construction projects require a building permit?

Most new construction will require a building permit. Only a couple of projects, being newly constructed, are exempt from building permits. These include detached residential accessory buildings that are 200 square feet and under in size and buildings being used for agricultural purposes only. If the project is deemed agricultural a permit should be applied for, after which the building department will have the applicant sign an agricultural affidavit. Some building permits may be harder to acquire if they could potentially be opposed by residents nearby or whom the build might affect. Zoning permits are still required for agricultural buildings. If you are changing the use of the building or the spaces within, building walls or altering the structure a building permit is required. If you are in doubt about needing a permit, it is advised that you check with the building department, prior to beginning your project.

What is the purpose of a building permit?

Building permits are a requirement of the state building code. Most building permits are issued by local units of government. The issuance of building permits help these local units keep track of construction activity in their area. This could also help to prevent any long-term problems from occurring in the future of the project. Having a building permit in place before this is of the utmost importance. By issuing permits, these units of government can also be sure that the buildings being constructed, are meeting the minimum requirements of the state building code, thereby providing safe buildings in our communities.

What happens if I start my project without a permit?

When the Building Department discovers a project that has been started without a permit, we first make an attempt at contacting the home owner, contractor or person in charge, in writing, that a permit is required for their project. If the required permit is not applied for within 1 full working day, a “Stop Work Order” is posted. If the “Stop Work Order” is ignored and no permit is applied for, civil citations and/or prosecution would be the next steps taken.

What happens if I don’t call for inspections?

Failure to call for inspections could result in delays and extra costs in the project. For example, if ceilings and walls are covered prior to frame inspection, finish materials may have to be removed so that the framing behind can be seen. Failure to have the required inspections will delay the issuance of the final approval and the “Certificate of Occupancy”. Many financial institutions and insurance companies are now requiring a Certificate of Occupancy prior to closing or insuring. A Certificate of Occupancy is issued after all the trades in the building project have had final approval.

Are there any papers I need to bring with me when I apply for a permit?

Yes, please review the Building Department Checklist posted under Reference Documents on our home page.


Building Department

Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm
*Doors Close Daily at 4:50pm*




23 E Pearl Street
Coldwater, MI 49036

Tiffany Watson
Data Coordinator

Tim Musser
Building Inspector

John Swartz
Building Inspector

Terry Thatcher
Plumbing \ Mechanical Inspector

Rick Hamilton
Electrical Inspector

Casey Hall
Electrical Inspector