Building and Right-of-Way Permits

Learn about the types of permits you need and how to get them

All permits require inspections. Read on to learn about the permit and inspection process.

There are two types of permits: permits for construction, often called building permits, and Right-of-Way permits. Both are available by visiting the Central Permit Office (CPO).

City Hall Commons 
201 E. Washington St.
Syracuse, NY 13202
First Floor

There is a limited amount of free parking available in front of the CPO on E. Washington St.


Building Permits

Building permits are proof that your building and facilities follow State rules ("code") and are safe for you, your employees, and your customers.

When you start making physical changes to your building, you will need to get the correct permits to get city approval to make changes. Permits aren't just for new buildings. You will need to get permits to make changes to the existing building as well. 

It's important to start early. If you are starting a new business, the process can take as long as 6 months to get through.  The average time to process an application that requires plan check is 6-8 weeks. Plan check means that staff from different departments will review the work you would like to complete to make sure it conforms to the building code and other laws.

Smaller projects, like a fence, don't usually require a plan check. Permits without plan check can be issued over the counter the same day. 

You may also need to get a permit if there is a change in the type of the business the space will be used for, even though no renovation is planned. Certain types of business will require different permits and inspections from the Codes, Fire, and/or Police Departments. The County Health Department may also need to inspect your work. 

When your plans are approved and you have paid your permit fees, you will receive your permits to begin construction, and schedule inspections.

Applicants are encouraged to submit their documents for zoning code review at the same time as building code review (permit application). Professionally certified drawings and plans required to issue building permits are expensive, so most developers have only preliminary plans prepared. After any zoning issues have been resolved, final documents are produced and submitted to the CPO. A second meeting with City departments is recommended, and may be required, when construction plans have changed substantially from earlier plans.

The following items are required for major projects:

  • Up to eight full sets of drawings, with one “wet stamped” by a licensed architect

  • Two stamped site plans, 

  • One stamped survey and 

  • Three sets of specs

You may submit documents electronically, but must submit printed documentation as outlined above. You may also have to submit other documents like reports and calculations, or a Stormwater Management Plan. After submitting the required documents to the CPO, they are routed to the appropriate departments for review. Which department depends on the type of work.

For building permits, plan reviews, elevator inspections and certificate questions, visit the CPO or call Code Enforcement.


Each permit type has an associated fee. 

List of permit fees (PDF)

Demolition Permit

In most cases, you also need a permit if you are going to demolish part or all of an existing structure. To receive a Demolition Permit, you will have to provide: 

  • Proof of insurance, both worker's compensation and site-specific insurance
  • Project site review
  • Copy of asbestos survey and asbestos abatement letter
  • Onondaga County Health Certificate 
  • You may also need permits from the Water and Fire Departments

Please contact Brian Eisenberg, Vacant Property Coordinator at the Division of Code Enforcement for more information.


You can contact Onondaga County about the Health Certificate at:


Right-of-Way Permits

If you are going to do construction or business on a sidewalk or street, you will need a right-of-way permit. Permits for construction might include putting in new utility lines, tree protection, or storing equipment on a sidewalk. Permits for conducting business like a sidewalk cafe or street fair are available through the same office.

Some right-of-way permits can be processed the same day, but most will take at least 5 days. Different departments review these permits, so they cannot be approved while you wait.

For right-of-way questions, please contact Youlanda Johnson, Zoning Application Coordinator. 


Purpose of Inspections

Any construction work which requires a permit will also require inspections. This applies to building permits and right-of-way permits. You will receive a copy of your permit and most post it before your inspection.

As you complete each phase of construction, you will need to have city inspectors visit to ensure that the work meets the safety standards in the New York State building code or local laws. The approved plans must also be available during each inspection.

Common items to be inspected are foundation excavations, concrete work, wood framing, ventilation equipment, plumbing, electrical, shear wall nailing, roof nailing etc. You may need several inspections from each category as construction proceeds.

When all of your building permit inspections are completed, a final inspection report is issued. If the report shows that your construction conforms to the building code,  you may receive your Certificate of Occupancy.

Elevator inspections must be completed by a private elevator inspector, who will report on your elevator to the City for you.

Plumbing inspections are conducted by Onondaga County's Plumbing Control Staff.

Onondaga County Plumbing Control

Schedule Inspection

The building owner or contractor should call to schedule an inspection around the time the work is completed.

You will need to provide the following information to schedule an inspection:

  • Inspection address
  • Permit number
  • Type of inspection(s)
  • Type of building (i.e. single family, apartment, commercial)
  • Contact name and phone number
  • Any special instructions for accessing the inspection site

Inspectors may be busy, so give yourself a few days before you will need an inspection to call and get it scheduled. 

This office schedules most inspections: 

  • Electrical Inspections - for electrical, fire alarm and security work
  • Building Permit Inspections - for the construction or alteration of structures, pools, fences and decks
  • Mechanical Permit Inspections - for HVAC and Refrigeration work, above/underground tanks, cooking hood systems and fireplaces
  • Sprinkler Permit Inspections - for sprinkler work


Plumbing Permits and Inspections

For plumbing permits and inspections, you must call the Onondaga County Plumbing Department.


Confirm Inspection  

You can call the Inspection desk to confirm your inspection. When you call, you will need: 

  • type of permit
  • address of inspection, 
  • floor or business name


Reschedule Inspection

To reschedule your inspection date and time, please give at least 24 hours notice, by calling the Codes office.


The cost of a building inspection is included in the permit fee.

However, there is a reinspection fee if an inspection call is made but the work is not ready for inspection or required corrections have not been completed. A reinspection fee will also be charged if the approval plans are not available or the inspector cannot gain access to the site to perform the inspection.

Inspection Day

The day of the inspection you will need to meet the inspector at your Inspection Address. You will need to have your permit and plans available for the inspector.

They will evaluate the work and record approvals on the permit to track construction progress. Approvals are also recorded into the city’s database.

Certificate of Occupancy

A Certificate of Occupancy is required before you can open your doors to the public. Once all your inspections receive final approval and all permit related fees are paid the city will issue you a Certificate of Occupancy for your location. This certificate indicates that your building is up to code, the facilities meet city safety rules and allows for utilities (power, water, and gas) to be connected to the building.

Sometimes an inspector may recognize that the building is safe, but not up to New York State code. In this case, the department that is affected may approve a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy at their discretion. A Temporary Certificate of Occupancy is generally issued for a 90-day period. The project must be re-inspected within 90 days to obtain a permanent Certificate of Occupancy.

Even if no construction work was performed in preparing your business to open, you may still need to schedule some inspections and pay associated fees. The Central Permit Office can tell you more.

On This Page

  • Understand the differences between building permits and right-of-way permits
  • Understand why the City requires inspections, and how the process works