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Residential Construction & Improvements

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Whether you are constructing a new home or making improvements to your existing home, there are many factors to consider.

Residential Building Permits

Residential Permit Application is required for most residential projects, except irrigation (separate permit).

Irrigation Permits 

An Irrigation Permit Application is required for all residential irrigation projects, including hose bibs for hand watering.  The Irrigation Submittal Guide is designed to assist those who wish to install an irrigation system at their residence.  To assist our citizens, the Potable Irrigation Plan Submittal Checklist should be completed and submitted along with 4 sets of irrigation plans.  A complete submittal includes an Irrigation Permit Application, Water and Sewer Service Application, Landscape Water Budget Calculation Sheet and Minor Encroachment Form for Irrigation, Fence and Landscaping (if necessary).

Water and Sewer Service Application - Use for all new residential  construction which require water and/or sewer services (in addition to any building permits already submitted).

Residential Driveway/Curb Cut Application - Use for all residential projects when working in the Right-of-Way on or around the driveway apron (see page 2 of the Residential Driveway/Curb Cut Application).

SPOT Permits

Permits for small projects can be obtained using our SPOT (Small Project One-hour Turnaround) program.  Applicants can visit the Development Services office between the hours of 8-11 a.m. with all required information (plot plan, building plans, contractor information, etc.,) and receive a permit within approximately one hour.  Staff members also help correct any problems with plans or paperwork while you wait, saving phone calls and delays.

Projects eligible for a SPOT Permit include decks, porches, storage buildings, additions of less than 500 square feet and conversions of attic or basement space of less than 1,500 square feet. Complex projects may require a more extensive plan review and may not be appropriate for a SPOT review.  A Plans Examiner will advise the applicant if a project is too complex to be reviewed as a SPOT.  For questions regarding our SPOT program, call (919) 469-4046.

One- and two-family homes require a completed application, available at our customer service counter. (See the Forms page for a sample application.) Provide us with two or three copies of the plans, a completed application, and a copy of the plot plan showing the house at exact scale (sample Plot Plan). Review usually takes two weeks. We will verify contractors’ licenses and ensure compliance with the Town zoning code and state building code. If all is approved, we will call you to pick up your permit.  The N.C. Residential Building Code requires that plans verify compliance with the state Energy Code.

Residential Decks 

Residential decks are wooden structures typically supported on posts and always require a building permit. Plans and an updated plot plan should be submitted for review before beginning work. See the Deck Design Assistant for more information.  In addition, the Residential Deck Guide provides a comprehensive list of construction requirements and construction details when building/restoring a residential deck.

Residential Pools, Spas, and Hot Tubs

The Permitting and Inspections Guide for Residential Swimming Pools, Spas, and Hot Tubs is intended to assist citizens who wish to install swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs on residential sites.

For more information on swimming pool safety, please visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website. You can also find information on swimming pool barriers on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website .

Residential Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Installation

Please see our Permitting and Inspections Guide for Residential Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment for detailed information on permitting and inspections requirements for EV charging stations.


Licensing & Insurance

An Owner Exemption Affidavit  is required when you intend to self-perform building construction work on a property that you own and that is your primary residence. This form requires notarization.

Single-Family Home Site Inspections

Certificates of occupancy for single-family homes also require site inspections, which are conducted by the Planning Department staff. For questions about site inspections, please contact the Planning Department at (919) 469-4082.

Inspections & Forms

Special Request and After Hours Inspection Application is required whenever you wish to request a special inspection or an inspection outside of normal inspection hours.

An Impervious Surface Certification is required for all residential new construction projects. The completed form will be picked-up at the job site by your inspector.

Residential Change Out Questionnaire is required for all residential HVAC and water heater change outs. This questionnaire is to be completed by the contractor and left on-site and available to the inspector.

Supplemental Forms

Change of Contractor - Use for all permits whenever you wish to change a contractor listed on the original permit and there is no change to the scope of work. If there are any changes to the scope of work, please use the Project Modification form instead.

Conditional Power Request - Use to request electrical utility service prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy.

Project Modification - Use for all commercial or residential projects whenever you wish to change the scope of work as described on the original application.

Reclaimed Water Use Statement of Compliance - Use for all new systems utilizing Reclaimed Water. Any relevant information must be provided, and each section must be initialed as appropriate, with a final signature at the end, to indicate proper compliance with program requirements.

Irrigation Minor Encroachment Agreement - Use for permission to encroach on certain public street right(s) of way and/or easements of the Town for the installation of irrigation fixtures, fencing, landscape plants and materials. 

Landscape Water Budget Calculation - Use this form to determine approximate water needs for the property identified above, measure the irrigated area in square feet and multiply by the conversion factor for the applicable month.

Fee Estimation

Cary's Fee Estimation Guide is intended to help you estimate building permit and development fees for your project.


Customer Service
Inspections & Permits Department
(919) 469-4046