Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need a building permit?
Not only is it the law, but building permits can also protect you. With a building permit, you get the advice of plan reviewers and inspectors who will approve each phase of your project, checking to see that the work is done in accordance with the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited Building & Sanitary Code, Zoning laws and the approved plans. Additionally, a building permit is required to show compliance with sanitary, safety and welfare concerns, including required setbacks from property lines and adjacent structures.
Working without a permit, when a permit is required, can result in fines and can cause problems when you sell your home. More importantly, you lose the assurance that the work you’re paying for is built to code, a minimum standard for safety.
When is a building permit required?
The City of Freeport/Lucaya uses a uniform building code called the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited Building & Sanitary Code. This code can be purchased from the Building & Development Services Department of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited located at the Southern Ridge Building, West Atlantic Drive. Part 1 (p. 42) of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited Building & Sanitary Code states: “GENERAL: No construction, enlargement, alteration, repair, movement, or demolition of a building or structure; nor installation of equipment or appur¬tenances regulated by this Code; shall be made without applying and obtaining a permit therefore from the Grand Bahama Port Authority or its designated agent.
How do I get a building permit?
Building permits are issued in the name of the person(s) performing the work. Only licensed contractors may obtain a permit. The following is a description of the steps required to obtain a permit:
- Fill out a Building Permit Application Form
- Owner/agent must attach proof of ownership (deed of conveyance) and sign the back of the Building Permit Application Form.
- Submit two sets of plans to the Grand Bahama Power Co., Grand Bahama Utility Co. and private developer (where applicable), in advance of submitting to the Building Department.
- Submit two sets of plans to include (as applicable) site/plot plan, floor plan, plumbing plan, electrical plan, hvac plan, elevations, electrical service panel, cross sections of structural walls with details of materials and fasteners, roof framing plan.
- Submit your permit application and stamped plans at the Permit Counter to obtain a tracking number. The customer services representative will enter into the computer the information from your application.
- The Permit Counter will keep your plans for routing through processing. They will direct you to pay a 50% deposit of permit fee at the Customer Services Department of the Grand Bahama Power Co. (Port Authority Administration Building). You will be notified once processing is completed.
- After all reviews have been signed off, please pay the balance of the permit fee and the permit card will issued.
Where do I get a permit?
Building permits are issued from the Southern Ridge Building, West Atlantic Drive.
If my property is on a septic tank, are there special requirements?
Yes, the tank needs to be decommissioned and filled in. Contact the Building Department for more information.
What happens if I have been cited for beginning construction prior to obtaining a permit?
If the construction conforms to code and your plans are acceptable, the permit will be issued and appropriate inspections will be made. If the construction does not conform to code, you have two options: Construction must be brought into compliance or construction must be removed. If the construction is not permitted under any circumstances, then it must be removed. You must have a permit to demolish and an inspection must be made to ensure that it has been demolished and the property cleared.
What are the penalties for beginning construction prior to obtaining a permit?
At the discretion of the Development Agent, appropriate inspections may be of a destructive nature. There is a penalty assessed equal to double the original building permit fee.
How long does it take to get a permit?
Permits for new construction are processed between 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Residential permits take approximately 30 working days and commercial permits take approximately 45 working days for processing. These time projections are for initial plans review only.
How will I know when I need inspections?
Inspections depend on what is involved in the project. Simply stated, an inspection is required prior to covering up any part of the construction.
How and when are inspections performed?
Inspections are performed from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Your plans and permit must be at the construction site and the address properly posted and visible from the street. The job to be inspected must be accessible. An OSHA approved ladder must be available if needed. Inspectors are located at the Building & Development Services Department. Inspectors are available to speak to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To request an inspection, you need your permit number and inspection type. The hours to call for an inspection are from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Inspections requested prior to 3:30 p.m. are performed the next business day. To request an inspection, please call one of the following telephone numbers: (242) 350-9166, (242) 350-9162, (242) 350-9178.
Do I need insurance for anyone helping me with the construction?
It is the owner's responsibility to obtain insurance for all those on the job except licensed contractors. Check with your insurance agent. Your homeowner's policy may provide coverage or you may need a rider to your policy to cover your liability. Contractors are required by the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited Building & Sanitary Code to carry Workers' Compensation Insurance if they have one or more employees.
May I do my own work?
No, all work must be performed by licensed contractors.
For how long is a building permit valid?
A building permit is valid provided an approved inspection is obtained within 90 days of its issuance, and an approved inspection is obtained every 90 days until completion.
I have hired a licensed contractor who has obtained the permit. Is there anything I need to know?
Inspectors give contractors an inspection results card upon completion of all inspections. It is advisable for all home owners to have the contractor(s) provide copies of all the inspection results cards.
Are there any early warning signs that I may be dealing with an unscrupulous contractor?
Yes. Early warning signs could include:
- A large down payment is requested before work begins.
- Many requests for money during early phases of construction.
- A verbal contract only, as person is not willing to put all terms in writing.
- You are asked to make your check payable to an individual’s name or asked to make payment in cash or to make the check payable to “cash.”
- The contractor suggests doing the work without permits or asks you, as the homeowner, to obtain the permit.
What should I do before making a final payment to the contractor?
The contractor should provide to you proof that all final inspections have been approved by the Building Department or provide a Certificate of Completion or Occupancy issued by the Building Department. If you want to verify that all inspection approvals have been obtained, you may call the Building Department at (242) 350-9178.
Additionally, you should request final release of liens from any individuals or firms who have provided labor, material or supplies, especially those who have sent you a “Notice to Owner” letter.
What if my contractor abandons the work or if I have a complaint regarding his/her performance?
You can contact the Building Department at (242) 350-9178 and file a complaint. The Contractor Licensing and Enforcement Section will investigate and work toward a resolution of the problem. If the permit is active, you should contact an Inspector by calling the Building Department’s Office, (242) 350-9178 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. However, it may be necessary for you to hire a new contractor to complete the work or you may complete the work as an owner-builder, if you qualify by passing a verbal test.
Are there any additional insurance requirements?
You should be advised that if your day labor employees cause any damage to persons or property, or if any of your day labor employees are injured on the job, you are liable. Your regular home insurance policy ordinarily DOES NOT cover this type of liability. Please check with your insurance agent.
A pool is being constructed on my property. Am I required to erect a safety barrier?
You are required to erect an approved safety barrier around the property or pool, under a building permit obtained from the Building Department, prior to final inspection of the pool. The safety barrier must also be inspected and approved by this department.
How long is my permit valid for and are inspections required?
Part 1 of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited Building & Sanitary Code requires that all construction work for which a permit is required shall be subject to inspection and approval by the Development Agent. It is the responsibility of the permit holder to cause the work to remain accessible and exposed for inspection purposes.
Permits will expire and become null and void if work authorized by such permits has not commenced within 90 days from permit issuance or has been suspended or abandoned at any time for a period of 90 days. Work shall be considered to be in active progress when the permit has received an approved inspection within 90 days.
What is a temporary structure?
A temporary structure is considered to be a tent or membrane structure erected for a period of less than 90 days that is used for special events such as revivals, carnivals, assemblies, circuses, sporting events and for the sale of items such as sparklers, Christmas trees, pumpkins, stuffed animals and/or flowers.
Do all temporary structures require a building permit?
No. Tents erected for camping and for events in single family residences do not require a building permit. Building permits are only required for temporary tents and membrane structures that are larger than 10' x 12' or any size membrane structure used for the sale of items such as sparklers, Christmas trees, pumpkins, stuffed animals and/or flowers.
I have a temporary structure that requires a permit. Where do I go to apply for a permit?
Building permits for the erection of temporary structures in the city of Freeport/Lucaya can be obtained from the Building & Development Services Department (Southern Ridge Building), West Atlantic Drive, on Monday through Friday, during the hours of 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.