The Permitting Process Explained

The sign permitting process can be extensive and daunting. The purpose of a sign permit is to make sure the sign follows local zoning, building, and electrical codes as well as performed by a licensed and registered contractor.  It’s important for public safety that local governing authorities ensure contractors are doing quality work. Every city and state has different regulations and requires different paperwork, but overall the items listed below can give you an idea of what they are looking for:

  • Permit Application:  Permits typically must be obtained before signs can be erected, altered or repaired. Most applications require you to have the following information handy: he contractor, engineer and owner’s names and addresses, description, quantity and size of the sign, with notarized signatures.
  • Site Plan/ Land Title Survey: This document displays the legal description, property lines, easements, property location, the proposed site of signs, etc. The property owner should have a digital copy. If not available, one can be requested from the Land Surveying Company.
  • Shop Drawings: These structural drawings depict how the sign will be fabricated and secured at the location. Some cities, like Houston, require stamped engineering drawings that show complete foundation details as well as wind load calculations.
  • Encroachment Agreements: This is a legally binding real estate document signed by neighboring property owners when a property encroachment if found to exist. For example, an old sign is located over a city or utility property line, or if a reface will take place. The encroachment agreement ensures both property owners are aware of the sign location.
  • Plat Maps: Is the officially recorded map with a government entity such as a city engineer or recorder of deeds. This plan serves as the legal description of all the lots in the subdivision.

Our permit technicians use resources such as The Municode Library  (a city code database) to research local sign ordinances and requirements for signs. As stated above, each city, county, and state have different regulations, so it is important your sign contractor provide the necessary information to offer you a compliant sign.

Once the permit application (along with required documents) is submitted, the city Inspectors will review the packet and provide any feedback and may request additional information, or may approve or deny the permit. This process can take anywhere from 10 to 30 days, depending on if additional information is requested.

Typical feedback may include additions to the sign, like a higher footing, reducing the overall size of the sign, or questions regarding clarification on setbacks, property lines, or encroachments. Once those items are sent to the inspector, approval occurs within 10 to 15 days.  If additional departments, such as the DOT or Water Utilities are involved, the process may be longer. Be patient. These departments want to ensure the sign will not cause any problems down the road.

Once the sign permit is approved, fabrication can begin and your sign should be installed within a couple of weeks. Our permit techs are always learning about new ordinances as well as building relationships with local inspectors to provide better service to our clients. Although we cannot accelerate the permitting process, providing the necessary information to city officials in a timely manner, along with an open line of communication, ensures they have complete information for approvals.

If you have any questions regarding your sign permits, contact us today.


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