Major Phases of Construction – Permitting

Your lot/land has been purchased, your construction loan is in place, and while you have been completing pre-construction selections, your builder has been readying documentation for the application of permits required in the jurisdiction you are building in. If you are building in an unincorporated area, the permitting process may take several weeks…especially if you will be utilizing a septic system for waste disposal.

A surveyor becomes an integral part of the process at this point. A site plan must be prepared showing the location of the soils areas for a septic system and your new home.

Building Permit

The following information refers to county permitting in an area that I am very familiar with…Williamson County, Tennessee. Before you ever present your home plans to the Planning and Codes Department, you will have to have your septic permit issued by the Environmental Department. The Environmental Departments approves and permits septic systems after reviewing your site plan, home plans, percolation test results, specifications for oversized tubs, and physical identification of soils areas. This step alone may take several weeks, so be prepared for this phase of permitting to take time.

Your builder will probably apply for a land disturbance permit prior to the issuance of the building permit, so the site preparation may go forward. Activities may include removing top soil from the building envelope (taking care not to disturb soils in the cordoned off soils area for your septic system), installing a construction driveway, erecting temporary electric service, and accessing water for use during construction. If city water is available, the purchase of a water tap fee occurs at this time.


Following the issuance of the septic permit, and the issuance of a zoning certificate, your builder will submit plans with a permit application to the Planning and Codes Department.  This department reviews building plans for approval prior to the issuance of the building permit. This process may take weeks, and depends on the work load of the department personnel.

Upon procurement of the appropriate permits, you are ready to start the next major phase of construction – the Footer and Foundation – a critically important part of any building or structure. The next article will examine this phase of construction.

If you are thinking about building a new home, contact me…from concept through completion, one point of contact, one point of management…one home at a time.