We provide updates about changes to operations or inspections through our newsletter. Send us an email at permits@townofchapelhill.org if you're interested in receiving these updates.

During this unprecedented time, staff are working hard to convert operations to remote and electronic only. Permit Center staff will be available by phone from 8:30am to 3pm daily to allow time for processing requests and training. Due to the high volume of emails and phone calls, processing requests may be delayed. Requests will be completed in the order they're received.

Acceptance of building permit applications may take up to 2 business days. Applicants will be notified by email when the application has been accepted and sent to plan review.

Do I need a Residential Permit?

A residential permit is required for any of the following:

  • Constructing, altering, repairing, moving, or demolishing any building or structure;
    • Includes but not limited to renovations, remodels, structural work, foundation repairs, expanding the building envelope or conditioned space
  • Installing, extending, altering, or repairing any heating or cooling system;
  • Installing electrical wiring, devices, appliances, or equipment;
  • Installing, extending, or repairing any plumbing system

Permit requirements can be found in North Carolina General Statute 160A-417. You can also view our Residential Work Requiring a Permit page for additional details.

 If you need help determining if a permit is required, contact us! You can send an email that includes the property address, details for the proposed work, and the total cost to permits@townofchapelhill.org.

Single Family/Two-Family Residential Permit Application Worksheet

View Residential Zoning-Building application and requirements checklist


Do I need a Zoning Permit?

 If any of the conditions listed below are part of a residential permit application, zoning approval is required:

Zoning Fee Exempt            
  • Impervious surface (ISA) less than 500sqft
  • Land disturbance (LD) less than 1,500sqft
  • No grading              
Examples: Decks, porches, patios,sunrooms, finished attics or basements
 Minor Zoning             
  •  ISA from 500sqft to 1,500sqft
  • LD of 1,500sqft to 5,000sqft
  • Grading or new foundation
  • In or near a Special Protection Area (NCD, RCD, HD, Jordan Buffer)
 Examples: Small additions, new accessory dwelling units, new driveways, garages
 Regular Zoning
  •  ISA greater than 1,500sqft
  • LD greater than 5,000sqft
  • In or near a Special Protection Area (NCD, RCD, HD, Jordan Buffer)
 Examples: New houses, large additions, large hardscape/grading, pools
 Zoning Review Checklist (Summative)
Zoning Review Checklist (Explanatory)


If any of the conditions below are part of a Residential Building Permit application, a Zoning Compliance Permit is required. Please discuss with Planning staff in Building & Development Services if you are unsure.

  • 500 s.f. or more of impervious surface;
  • 1,500 s.f. or more of land disturbance;
  • Grading or filling;
  • 5 feet or less from the Resource Conservation District or Jordan Riparian Buffer boundaries;
  • Encroachment into the 100-year floodplain;
  • Encroachment into steep slopes per LUMO Section 5.3.2 (400 s.f. or greater of slopes 15% or greateR);
  • Inside the Historic District; or
  • Adding an accessory dwelling unit.


Applying for a Permit

You may submit an application by email to permits@townofchapelhill.org. Please review the residential permit application checklist for details on all of the required documents for your submittal.

Zoning Review

Time frames

Fee Exempt

Same day


Up to 5 business days


5 business days


Building Review

Time frames

Applications that don’t require plan review (trade work such as change-outs or generator installations, etc.)

2 business days

The time may increase if there is a zoning element but you will be notified


1 business day

Plan Review

5 business days

Approval for Issuance

5 business days


Need help?

No problem! Contact Building & Development Services to find answers to your questions.



 Related Forms


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