Building Permit Application

The City of Dubuque Inspection & Construction Services Division issues building permits for commercial and residential projects. Our building inspectors are responsible for examining all construction plans and documents to ensure all work meets minimum code requirements prior to the issuance of the permit. Our inspectors will perform field inspections throughout your project to ensure work is being done according to the submitted application and plans. Upon completion, our inspectors will issue a final completion letter or certificate of occupancy for each project.

Residential Permit Information

Residential & Commercial Building Inspector
Mike Sievers | Email
Phone: 563-589-4154

Commercial Permit Information

Commercial Building Inspector
Jeff Zasada | Email
Phone: 563-690-6037

Residential Building Permit Applications are Required for: 

  • Single-family dwellings
  • Townhomes
  • Two-family dwellings
  • New construction
  • Additions or alterations (including decks, patios, and fences)
  • Garages and carports
  • Any accessory structure larger than 200 square feet
  • Retaining walls over 4 feet in height
  • Interior Remodel Projects
  • Backyard Swimming Pools

Why Building Permits are Important / Work That Requires a Permit

NOTE: The Planning and Zoning Department needs to approve all site plans prior to building permit issuance.

Application Process

  1. Submit a permit application with construction plans or drawings.
    1. Online permit application form
    2. Printable permit application form (Excel file)

2. Download the Plan Review Checklist, complete, save and submit with the application.

3. Inspection & Construction Services will perform a plan review of the submitted construction documents and will provide plan review notes and/or plan approval prior to permit issuance.

4. Permit applications for new construction projects must include a site plan for review and approval by the Planning and Zoning Department prior to permit issuance.

5. A plan review fee will be charged for all new construction, additions, remodels, and accessory buildings over 200 square feet in size.

6. All other general building permits being applied for can submit the residential building permit application along with a detailed work description of the project or work being done.

  • NOTE:  By providing as much detail about your project as possible including product specifications when appropriate, the plan reviewer will be able to provide helpful feedback that could prevent potential code deficiencies that may be identified at the time of inspection.

7. In addition to a building permit, if the scope of work for your proposed project includes plumbing, mechanical, or electrical, a separate permit application must be submitted for each trade.  

Building permit applications can be submitted online (link in 1a above), by mail, e-mail, or in person at the Inspection & Construction Services Division located at the Historic Federal Building, 350 W 6th St., Suite 312 (3rd floor) in the Housing & Community Development Department office.  All permit applications must be paid in full prior to the issuance of the permit and work beginning.  Payment options include cash, check, or credit/debit card payments.  Credit/debit card payments must be made over the phone at 563-589-4150 or in-person.

Residential Garage Guide
Site Plan Example
Building Permit Fees

Guidelines and Code-Related Information

  1. Decks

A building permit is required for any deck that is attached to a structure or any detached deck 30 inches or more above the adjacent grade. Inspections are required on permitted projects when the pier holes are open, before any framing is concealed and the project is completed. 

The following requirements must be met even if a building permit is not required:

  1. Please contact Planning Services at 563-589-4210 for information regarding the required setback distances from property lines.
  2. A minimum depth of 42 inches is required for any deck that is attached to a dwelling or structure that has frost protection.
  3. Guardrails are required to be installed on all decks or open stairways that are 30 inches or more above grade or the floor below. The guardrail shall not be less than 36 inches in height. Intermediate rails shall be spaced sot hat an object 4 inches in diameter cannot pass through. The top of the guardrails for stairways, exclusive of their landings, may have a minimum height of 34 inches. Guardrails shall be constructed to support 20 pounds per square foot of lateral load.
  4. Stairways shall be a minimum of 36 inches wide with a maximum rise of 7.75 inches and run of 10 inches. 
  5. A handrail shall be provided on at least one side of stairways of 4 or more risers. The handrail shall be continuous with a height of between 34 and 38 inches measured vertically from the nosing of the treads. The handrail shall be between 1.25 inches and 2 inches wide and provide a gripping surface.
  6. Joists should not overhand the beam by more than 2 feet, nor should beams overhang support posts by more than 1 foot unless a special design is approved by City of Dubuque Inspection and Construction Services.
  7. All decks shall be designed to support a live load of 40 pounds per square foot.
  8. All connections between decks and dwelling shall be weatherproof. Any cuts in the exterior finish of the dwelling shall be flashed or caulked. All exposed wood used in the construction of decks is required to be wood and natural resistance to decay (redwood, cedar, etc.) or approved treated wood. This includes posts, beams, joists, and decking.
  9. Headers joists more than 6e feet long and tails joists more than 12 feet long shall be supported by approved joist hangers and fasteners (no roofing nails) sized and installed per the manufacturer's listing. All fasteners shall be corrosion resistant and approved for the specific use.

Special Design Note: Some deck designs may not be appropriate should the construction of roof or enclosure be a future consideration.

Download code guidelines for decks.

  1. Emergency Escape & Rescue Openings
  1. Garages
  1. Fences
  1. Gas Piping
  1. Swimming Pools
  1. Vinyl Siding

Commercial Building Permit Applications are Required for: 

  • All Non-Residential Structures, including all multi-family residential buildings with three or more dwelling units.

NOTE: The Planning and Zoning Department needs to approve all site plans prior to building permit issuance

Application Requirements

  1. New construction, additions or alterations, and interior remodel projects require construction plans to be submitted with the permit application. 
  2. All new construction projects are required to submit a site plan for review and approval by the Planning and Zoning Department prior to permit issuance. 
  3. A plan review fee is charged for all new construction, additions, remodels, and accessory building over 200 square feet. The plan review fee is 20% of the permit fee. 

Online Permit Application
Commercial Building Permit Application  (Excel File)
Building Permit Fees

Food Establishments Additional Requirements

  1. Contact the City of Dubuque Health Department (563.589.4181) to fill out a separate Health Department Food Establishment Application and provide plans and specifications as required by the Health Department. 
  2. Fill out a Fats, Oils, and Grease (F.O.G) application and submit to the Water & Resource Recovery Center for processing.
  3. Fill out a Grease Interceptor Checklist Form and submit to Inspection & Construction Services for review.


Permanent and Temporary Signs

All signs require a separate permanent sign permit application or temporary sign permit application, reviewed for approval by the Planning and Zoning Department prior to permit issuance. Signs applications should be submitted at the same time your site plan or building plans are submitted to make sure approval is granted prior to moving forward with your project. The City of Dubuque requires sign contractors to obtain an annual license from the Inspection & Construction Services Division.