Building Inspection

Documents & Departmental Forms


Single Family Home Permit Guidelines

This list is a guide to the requirements for a building permit for a single-family house in Portsmouth, RI.  Many properties and projects have unique restrictions and may require additional documentation not on this list.

  1. SITE PLAN - The Site Plan should show the location of the house with dimensions to the property lines, Soil Erosion Control Plan and Septic design layout. Some sites will require coastal information or flood zone information. If in a flood zone, we require an Elevation Certificate prior to issuance of a permit. 
  2. BUILDING PLANS - Building plans should include:  foundation plan, floor plans, elevations, cross sections and construction details. These plans shall be drawn to scale and have sufficient information to relay the scope of work and that it will meet code. Additionally if there are any engineered beams (LVL) or trusses, we require a layout plan and related calculations. 
  3. ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTATION - If your property has any special restrictions, such as an approved variance(s) or coastal ascents, they shall be submitted. Coastal properties may also require shear wall bracing, engineered foundations with breakaway walls and Elevation Certificates.  
  4. LOT RESTRICTIONS - Small lots or tight lots may require as-built to verify the proper location on the property prior to the framing stage. Likewise, houses that are pushing the height restriction may require a height as-built when the ridge is framed.  
  5. IMPACT FEES - Lots that have been created (subdivided) after 2003 are subjected to an impact fee prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy.

Our building permits are all electronic and submitted on-line. Plans can be attached electronically or copies dropped off at Town Hall. Plans must also be submitted to the Fire Department for approval of the location of smoke and CO detectors.

Inspection Department Responsibilities

The Department of Building Inspection is tasked with the following duties:

  • Building permit issuance
  • Clerical and technical support to the Board of Review
  • Depository of crucial data on building and mechanical construction, Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) permit history, engineering data, zoning and subdivision history, and similar data. The changing regulatory climate and developments in the building trades and construction industry requires that each member of the department engage in continuing education to stay current on the latest developments in their field
  • Enforcement of the following codes and ordinances:
    • Minimum Housing Code
    • Regulations that protect the handicapped and the disabled
    • Zoning Ordinance
  • Inspections:
    • Building
    • Electrical
    • Mechanical
    • Plumbing
  • Other projects at the direction of the council and/or the administrator
  • Plan review
  • Primary resource to the other town departments on issues affecting their physical plant and the town's parks and recreation areas. This extends to regular safety and maintenance inspections at town playgrounds
  • Significant interface with a variety of state agencies including CRMC and DEM
  • Significant interface with the public