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.

Approval of sub permits may take up to 3 business days. This time may vary if prior approvals are required or additional information is needed. Applicants will be notified by email when the permit is ready.

Do I need a sub permit?

A sub permit is required for the installation, extension, repair, or alteration of any plumbing system, heating or cooling equipment system, or electrical wiring, appliances or equipment.

Types of work covered under this permit include but are not limited to:

  1. Installation or replacement of heating and cooling equipment and water heaters
  2. Installation of generators or irrigation systems
  3. Water or sewer line repairs
  4. Emergency power restoration


  • A permit is not required for the replacement of a water heater and associated electrical circuitry in one or two-family dwellings if the replacement meets the conditions in NC General Statute 160A-417(a)(2).
  • A permit is not required for the repair or replacement of electrical lighting fixtures or devices in one or two-family dwellings that meet the conditions listed in NC General Statute 160A-417(a)(4).


Applying for a permit

1. Download the application

You can download the applications here. The residential application is for one and two-family dwellings and townhouses and the commercial application is for everything else.


2.Submit the application

Applications can be emailed to us at permits@townofchapehill.org or faxed to 919-932-2954. You may also drop the application off at the Permit Center in Town Hall.

Please allow up to 2 business days for processing. This time may vary if additional approvals are required or additional information needed.

Related Pages


Water Heater Replacement Exception

If ALL of the following requirements are met, a water heater may be replaced without a permit. If one of the following requirements is missing, then a permit is required.:

  • The work is restricted to one- or two-family dwellings only (no buildings with three or more dwelling units and no commercial buildings).
  • The work has to be performed by a North Carolina Licensed Plumbing Contractor (or a bona-fide employee of a North Carolina Licensed Plumbing Contractor).
  • The licensee is required to personally examine the work at completion.
  • The licensee is required to ensure that a leak test has been performed on the gas piping.
  • The energy use rate or thermal input is not greater than the water heater which is being replaced.
  • The replacement is required to be installed in accordance with the current edition of the State Building Code (plumbing section).
  • There is no change in fuel.
  • There is no change in energy source.
  • There is no change in location.
  • There is no change in capacity.
  • There is no change in routing or sizing of venting or piping.
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