Summer Improvements and City Permits

Summertime brings on favorable weather for common home and property improvements. If you’re improving property within Cape Girardeau’s city limits, then permits are issued through the city’s Development Services Department to ensure the protection of your property, yourself, and others. If you’re not sure whether or not you need a permit, then call 573-339-6327 for assistance. Applicable permits should be received before you start any work for which a permit is required. Additional information is available in our Development Guide. Here are some common types of improvements that require a permit:

Swimming pool, whether it’s an in-ground or above ground pool, if the pool’s depth is greater than 18 inches, then a permit is required and fencing must surround the area.

If you’re planning to construct, extend or replace any fence that is over 30 inches tall on your private property or recorded easement, then you’ll need a fence permit. Download the fence permit application here. The same goes for constructing, extending, or replacing any retaining wall that’s more than 4 feet tall – you’ll need a retaining wall permit. Download the retaining wall permit application here.

Liquid propane tanks have become a popular addition to Cape Girardeau residences as past winter storms have caused widespread power outages. No permit is required, but the tanks must be installed certain distances from neighboring structures or equipment. Contact the Cape Girardeau Fire Department or Development Services for more information.

Decks and retaining walls that are 4 feet tall or taller require permits. New sheds that are larger than 150 square feet are subject to setback requirements; contact Development Services for details.

Anytime you plan to dig anywhere on your property call 1-800-DIG-RITE at least 3 working days in advance. Read more about the Missouri One Call System here.

Building permits must be obtained to construct, enlarge, or alter a structure. Other instances requiring a building permit include installing a pre-manufactured carport, changing the occupancy, structural/non-structural alterations, sanitary or accessibility requirements, changing a building’s use, and/or to install or alter any equipment covered under the City’s adopted building codes. Download the applicable permit: residential buildings, commercial buildings. Additional building and other permits are available here. A Certificate of Occupancy is required on any residential, commercial or industrial structure that requires a building permit prior to the structure being occupied. The final occupancy inspection is especially important to ensure the safety of your structure.

If you will be installing electrical service, wiring, or appliances, or altering or adding to an existing installation , then you’ll need an electrical permit. Exceptions include minor repair work, such as replacing light switches, replacing fuses or circuit breakers, lamp sockets, and receptacles.

Plumbing permits are required for new plumbing or drain laying work, whenever alterations are made in the waste and/or vent line, and when existing piping or fixtures are replaced. A plumbing permit is not required for repairs only involving the working parts of a faucet or valve, clearance of stoppages, or repair or replacement of defective faucets or valves.

Mechanical permits must be obtained for installation of devices or appliances such as furnaces, air conditioners, gas piping, venting of gas appliances, generators, etc.

If you’re planning to tear down any structure, then you’ll need a demolition permit. This permit can be issued only after all utilities have been disconnected. The owner and/or contractor are responsible for disconnecting the sewer at the property line. The City inspects the sewer disconnect prior to it being covered. City Inspection Services can provide you with utility disconnect forms before you receive the demolition permit. The demolition must be completed, the lot cleaned off and graded within 45 days once the demolition permit has been issued.

Excavation permits are required for any work on city right-of-way for sewer, water, or gas connections, or for installing utility cables in right-of-way. This includes any street cut, or excavation behind the pavement on city right-of-way. Alteration to driveways and public street permits are required to construct, reconstruct, repair, alter, or grade any sidewalk section, curb, gutter, curb-cut, or driveway on city right-of-way. The portion of the driveway on city right-of-way must meet city ordinances and standards. Any variances are to be approved by the City Engineer. Driveways with a culvert permits must be obtained to construct, enlarge, or alter any culvert within the right-of-way. Sidewalk permits must be obtained to construct, replace, or alter any sidewalk.

Do you have dirt to move? If your grading requires any earthwork using mechanical equipment, then you’ll need a fill/grading permit. This excludes general yard work. If you’re planning to do grade/fill work on your development, then you’ll also need applicable stormwater management permits. The stormwater management permits shall be issued prior to any building permits to assure that stormwater runoff is adequately controlled. This provision applies to all development except for single-family and two-family construction on lots of record.

Floodplain development permits must be obtained for all construction, development, or substantial improvement located within a special flood hazard area. Special flood hazard areas are delineated on maps provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In addition, an elevation certificate is required upon the completion of any structure, including manufactured homes, certifying that the lowest floor (including the basement) is elevated at least one foot above the base flood elevation. Non-residential structures may be “flood-proofed” so that any finished floor located below the base flood elevation of the structure is watertight with walls substantially impermeable to the passage of water, in which case a flood proofing certificate is required in addition to an elevation certificate upon completion and prior to occupancy.