Obtaining a Permit

A construction permit must be obtained by the person that is legally authorized to perform the work. Generally, the North Carolina General Statutes require that construction work be performed by an appropriately State licensed contractor who is responsible for obtaining the permit. For zoning permits, either the landowner or the person responsible for the work can obtain the permit.

State Licensed Contractor

For almost all residential or commercial projects, the person performing construction-related work must be a State licensed contractor when the work involves: (1) construction for projects costing $30,000 or more, (2) plumbing, (3) mechanical, (4) electrical, (5) fire protection, and (6) gas. An unlicensed contractor or person for hire can perform only building construction work for jobs costing less than $30,000 and cannot perform any plumbing, mechanical, electrical, fire protection or gas work.

Owner-Occupied Exemption

The NC General Statutes provide an exemption from the State licensed contractor requirements that under specific requirements allows a landowner to obtain a construction permit for a project on land that they own and occupy. The law allows a person, firm or corporation that owns the land to obtain a construction permit and be responsible for the construction where otherwise a State licensed contractor is required. The owner must occupy the building and cannot rent, lease or sell the property. A landowner may apply for the owner-occupied exemption if they:
  • Own the land on which the building is constructed or altered;
  • Solely occupy the building for at least 12 months after completion;
  • Supervise and manage all aspects of the construction;
  • Obtain all required permits;
  • Are present for all required inspections (unless construction plans were prepared and sealed by a licensed architect);
  • Provide proof of Workers' Compensation insurance;
  • Provide a designated lien agent (unless the work involves a single-family dwelling or residential accessory structure); and
  • Execute a verified Work By Owner Affidavit (PDF) that attests to all exemption requirements.
For example, a homeowner does not need a general contractor's license when constructing or altering their own home, provided the homeowner obtains all required permits and occupies the home at least 12 months after completion. To obtain a permit, the owner must file for the exemption with their permit application.

More Information

If you have questions regarding your project, permits or the process, contact a construction plan reviewer at 336-883-3151.