How Do I Know if I Need a Building Permit?

Permits are required to protect life and property. Scan the list below to see if you project requires a permit or contact us to discuss your project. If you have further questions, please contact City of Cape Girardeau Development Services at 573-339-6327.
VIEW Development Permits Online – Cape Connect

Building & Utility Permits

Building Permits must be obtained to construct, enlarge, or alter a structure. The installation of a pre-manufactured carport is included. A building permit must also be obtained to change the occupancy of a building or structure; structural or non-structural alterations; to determine any accessibility requirements; or to install or alter any mechanical, electrical or plumbing equipment covered under the City of Cape Girardeau’s building codes.
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.
Electrical Permits must be obtained to install new electrical service, wiring, or appliances, or to alter or add to an existing installation, except 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 which involve only 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.
Demolition Permits must be obtained to demolish any structure. This permit can only be issued after all utilities have been disconnected. The owner and/or contractor is responsible for disconnecting the sewer at the property line. The City inspects the sewer disconnect prior to it being covered. Utility disconnect forms may be obtained from the Inspection Services Office prior to obtaining the permit. The demolition must be completed, the lot cleaned off and graded within 45 days of issuance of the permit.

Streets, Sidewalks & Driveways

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 & 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.
Driveway 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.

Other Permits

Fence Permits must be obtained to construct, extend, or replace any fence over 30” in height on private property or any recorded easement.
Retaining Wall Permits must be obtained to construct, extend, or replace any retaining wall over 4’ in height.
A Fill/Grading Permit is required to move or grade dirt on any property which involves earthwork, using mechanical equipment. This excludes general yard work.


Stormwater Management Permits must be obtained if grading/filling property or developing property. Shall be issued prior to issuance of a Building Permit 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. In some cases, stormwater management plans may be incorporated into the development of a subdivision, while in others stormwater management provisions will be included for individual lots.
Floodplain Development Permits must be obtained for all construction, development, or substantial improvement located within a special flood hazard area. Special flood hazard areas or delineated on maps provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
An Elevation Certificate is required upon the completion of any structure, including manufactured homes, certifying that the lowest floor, including basement, is elevated to or above the base flood elevation.
* Note: new building codes start July 1, 2015 *


  1. Making sure to get the proper permit is probably a good idea in order to avoid getting into any legal trouble. Getting a permit first, while not only legal, will probably help you know whether or not there is a problem with the land that you could cause if you start building first. Making sure to understand which one you need for your project, then doing research to know exactly what documents it requires and what restrictions your project will need, will probably help your project is accepted.

  2. I didn’t realize that permit was need to change the occupancy of a building as well. It’s good to know what situations may call for a permit beyond when one is just being constructed. That way, we can account for these things if a building we own changes purpose and avoid as many hangups as possible by getting the right permit in proper time.

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