What is a Certificate of Occupancy? (C.O.)
A C.O. is required for all buildings or structures that are occupied or used. Basically, when a tenant leases a new space, a new C.O. shall be required. Upon issuance of a C.O. and approval of all required inspections, utilities will be released in the new tenant's name. The C.O. contains information concerning the owner or tenant, address of the building, a description of the portions of the building and the use intended, building code verifications for the group and classification of the building or structure, and approval of the Building Official.
When is a C.O. required?
When a new building is constructed and occupied;
If an existing building or lease space is remodeled, enlarged, or altered;
When any new use, tenant, or occupant is established;
When any use, tenant, or occupant of any tenant or lease space is changed;
When any tenant "name" or ownership is changed;
If there is a change in use which would place the building or lease space in a different occupancy classification (group and/or division) as referenced in the International Building Code.
Buildings/structures in specified zoning districts may be used for any permitted uses. However, no building or structure shall be erected, altered, converted, arranged, designed, or used for other than those uses specified as permitted uses in the district in which it is located, according to the Use Matrix, and in accordance with the provisions of the applicable Articles of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. It is often difficult to change the use of a building or space and comply with the building and fire codes as well as the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. For example, a building that was designed and constructed as an office or a retail use will typically not comply with City requirements for a restaurant, daycare facility or church. The addition of a fire protection system is often required and is an extremely costly modification. If a change in use is anticipated, it is recommended that Building Inspection be contacted prior to proceeding with any further contracts. The best solution is to bring building plans and visit a Plans Examiner regarding the proposed change in use.
Why is a C.O. needed?
The Fire Department uses the C.O. information to help identify potential hazards that may be encountered while responding to emergency calls. The Post Office requires a current C.O. with the correct address before mail will be delivered. When the building is new, the C.O. verifies that it conforms to the most current life safety standards. When the building is existing, has an ownership change, tenant change, or change in building use, a new C.O. is required to provide that the building is still safe to occupy.
How is a C.O. obtained?
For new or remodel construction, a C.O. is generated upon completion of the final building inspection. For existing buildings, the owner or tenant must complete an application requesting a C.O. This application may be obtained by downloading the application from our web site, visiting Building Inspection within City Hall, or by mail or fax. There is a $100.00 application fee, and this fee must accompany the application.
When the Building Inspection Department receives the completed application and fee, a Plans Examiner will process the application. The Plans Examiner checks the information supplied by the applicant, verifies the zoning requirements for the business, and updates the City's records. When an approved application is completed, the applicant is called to verify the date when a Building Inspector can come to the application site for an inspection. All occupancy applications require approved inspections prior to C.O. issuance. If the inspection fails, a reinspection fee of $50.00 may be assessed. Upon successful completion of the building final inspection, the Building Official will issue the C.O.
What should be done with a C.O. once it is obtained?
The C.O. is required to be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises and shall not be removed except by the Building Official.
Can a C.O. be revoked?
Yes. The Building Official may, in writing, suspend or revoke a C.O. whenever it is determined that the certificate was issued in error, or on the basis of incorrect information supplied, or when it is determined that the building, or a portion of the building or structure is in violation of any ordinance, regulation, or provision of the building codes.