Permitting / Codes

City of Aiken Building & Construction Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to contact an inspector? Who can I speak to regarding commercial and residential building code questions?

Please call the Building Inspection Division office at 803-642-7675 from 8:10 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

How do I find out the status of my building permit application?

Please call the Building Inspection Division at 803-642-7675 for answers to permit status questions.

How can I schedule an inspection?

Please call the Building Inspection Division office at 803-642-7675 from 8:10 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Inspections called in or emailed by 4:00 pm will be scheduled for the next business day, excluding holidays.

Do I need a contractor’s license if I am building my own home? Do I need a license to do building, plumbing, electrical, or mechanical/gas work on my own house?

No. However, you must follow South Carolina state law with respect to building permits and establishing residency in the home that you are constructing. For example, if you build your own residence, you are not allowed to sell or rent the home within two years after completion or the issuing of a Certificate of Occupancy. In addition, you must supervise the construction yourself, and you may only build or improve a one family or two family residence without a contractor’s license. Also, as the owner of the residential building or structure you must promptly file as a matter of public record a notice with the register of deeds, indexed under your name in the grantor’s index, stating that the residential building or structure was constructed by the owner as an unlicensed builder. It is also your responsibility to make sure that people employed by you have licenses required by state law and by City of Aiken licensing ordinances. Your construction must comply with all applicable laws, ordinances, building codes, and zoning regulations.

If I don’t agree with the Building Official’s interpretation of a building code requirement that affects my job, can I appeal that decision? How?

Yes. You can appeal the Building Official’s interpretation of the adopted codes. You must notify the Building Official in writing of your intent to appeal. The Building Official will then assemble the City’s Building Code Board of Appeals and notify you of the hearing date. The Board can only hear appeals relating to code interpretations. The Board cannot grant variances to the adopted codes. Please contact the Building Official at 803-642-7675 for assistance.

What is a “Specialty Contractor”? Do they need a contractor’s license?

A Residential Specialty Contractor is an independent contractor who is not a licensed residential builder. The Specialty Contractor contracts with licensed residential builders, general contractors, or individual property owners to do construction work, repairs, improvements, or re-improvements which requires special skills and involves the use of specialized construction trades or crafts, when the undertakings exceed two hundred dollars ($200) and are not regulated by certain other code provisions.

Residential Specialty Contracting includes the following areas of contracting and other areas as the commission may recognize by regulation:

  • plumbers (state examination required for license);
  • electricians (state examination required for license);
  • heating and air conditioning installers and repairers (state examination required for license);
  • vinyl and aluminum siding installers;
  • insulation installers;
  • roofers;
  • floor covering installers;
  • masons;
  • dry wall installers/repairs;
  • carpenters;
  • stucco installers;
  • painters/wall paperers.
Is a contractor or someone with a specialty license required to get a City business license?

Yes. Any person who does any type of construction in the City of Aiken for profit is required to obtain a business license prior to doing work and, if necessary, obtain a permit. Please contact the Business License Administrator at 803-642-7642 for questions about business licensing.

Do I need to have a business license to do a construction project?

Yes. Any person who does any type of construction in the City of Aiken for profit is required to obtain a business license prior to doing work and, if necessary, obtain a permit. Please contact the Business License Administrator at 803-642-7642 for questions about business licensing.

Does a contractor have to submit a list of his/her subcontractors on a job to the Building Inspection Division?

Yes, because the major subcontractors (electric, mechanical/gas, and plumbing) are required to obtain separate permits for their work, and all subcontractors working on the project are required to have a City of Aiken business license.

What is the turnaround time for the approval of a building permit?

The average processing time for a residential building permit is approximately 5 to 7 business day, excluding holidays. Most commercial building permit applications with a General Contractor identified on the application are processed in approximately 15 business days, excluding holidays. Processing time will be longer if submitted applications are incomplete or if more information and/or additional plans are requested by our office.

How many copies of a plan do I need to turn in for permitting?

Two (2) copies of plans should be submitted for review with permit applications. For commercial projects, if the building exceeds 5,000 square feet or will be used as a place of assembly or for institutional or educational purposes plans must be designed and stamped by a design professional.

Do I have to pay a plan review fee before plans will be reviewed by the Building Inspection Division?

No. An up-front fee is not required when plans are submitted for review. A plan review fee will be collected when the building permit has been approved and is ready to be issued.

How long is a building permit valid?

An issued building permit is null and void if authorized construction is not commenced within 6 months of the issue date, or if construction is suspended/abandoned for 6 months after commencement.

What time is building construction (noise) allowed? Can work be done on weekends?

The City Code of Aiken permits construction noise during daytime hours between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm, Monday through Saturday, and the hours between 9:00 am and 10:00 pm on Sunday. Construction noise may be exempt from the daytime hour requirement if a permit has been obtained from the City in advance.

Where and when do I obtain a Certificate of Occupancy for my project?

A Certificate of Occupancy (CO) is issued by the Building Official after the final inspection of the project is approved and any and all necessary documents, such as load calculations, compaction reports, etc., are on file. In most cases, an issued CO is automatically emailed or mailed to the builder of record or the owner-builder. Issued CO’s can also be picked up at the Building Inspection Division office in Room 201 on the second floor of the City Municipal Building located at 214 Park Ave SW.

What is the process of changing or adding a contractor once a building permit has been issued?

Please send the Building Inspection Division a written statement about the subcontractor addition or change with the subcontractor‘s names, the building permit (application) number and the construction address. The written statement can be faxed to 803-642-7672. The written statement is necessary so that we have a record of the addition/change and, if applicable, a refund can be processed for the subcontractor who is no longer doing the work on the project.

When is a permit required?

Almost always. A permit is required when work is done on a building or structure, or the systems serving the structure (electrical, mechanical/gas, and plumbing. Some examples of projects requiring a permit are (applies to residential and commercial):

New construction

  • Accessory structures
    • Detached garage
    • Carport (including metal pre-built)
  • Workshop or storage building/shed
  • Pool house
  • Pergola

Renovations and remodels

  • Change in Occupancy for a commercial use
  • Enclosing an existing covered porch, attached carport, or screen porch
  • Replacement windows
  • Vinyl siding that is newly applied or is replaced (changed out)
  • Porch cover over slab or deck
  • Finishing an attic
  • Additions to any structure
  • Attached garage
  • Sunroom
  • Screen porch
  • Electrical, mechanical/gas, and plumbing work
    • Installing or replacing a furnace or air conditioner
    • Installing gas lines for a gas fireplace or a gas stove
    • Installing or replacing a hot water heater (including tankless water heaters)
    • Changing out an electrical panel (electrical upgrade)
    • Moving receptacles
    • Re-wiring
    • Electrical service for solar panels
  • Demolition of an existing structure
  • Adding a detached or attached deck to a house
  • Swimming pool

Please call the Building Inspection Division at 803-642-7675 if you have questions about whether a permit is required for a construction project.

What kinds of projects DO NOT require a building permit?

Below is a list of some examples of projects that do not require a permit:

  • Replacement of non-structural, cosmetic elements such as floor and wall coverings, cabinets and countertops
  • Constructing a driveway or parking pad
  • Constructing sidewalks and grade level patios
  • Accessory buildings/sheds that are 200 square feet or smaller in size

Please call the Building Inspection Division at 803-642-7675 if you have questions about whether a permit is required for a construction project.

What kinds of projects require a plumbing permit?

Moving plumbing fixtures (such as rearranging where the shower and toilet are in bathroom) and/or changing out a water heater require a plumbing permit. A permit is not required for changing out plumbing fixtures, for example, a new sink installed in same place where the old sink was located.

Is a permit required for re-roofing a residential or commercial structure?

Maybe. Re-shingling a roof with no changes to the structure of the roof does not require a building permit. Roofing contractors must have a valid state license and a current City of Aiken business license to do any re-roofing work in the city limits. Please contact the Planning Department at 803-642-7608 to check if the property to be re-roofed is in an historic or overlay district and could possible require Planning approval for the roofing project.

Is a permit required to add a shed or storage building to my property? Are there any size restrictions or setback requirements?

Maybe. A shed or storage building (pre-built or built on site) that is larger than 200 square feet requires a building permit. First, please contact the Planning Department at 803-642-7608 to ask about setback requirements for the proposed structure and to check if the property where the shed/storage building is to be placed or built is in an historic or overlay district and could possible require Planning approval before construction. We also recommend that, if applicable, residential property owners check with their Homeowners’ Association for any possible covenant restrictions, such as type or style of storage building required, when planning for a construction project. Please note that contractors must have a valid state license and a current City of Aiken business license to build or place any size pre-built shed/storage building in the city limits.

Is a permit required for the installation of fences?

Maybe. Fences not over 6 feet high do not require a building permit. First, please call the Planning Department at 803-642-7675 to ask if the property to be fenced has setback requirements or zoning restrictions and to check if the property where the fence is to be built is in an historic or overlay district and could possible require Planning approval before construction. We also recommend that, if applicable, residential property owners check with their Homeowners’ Association for any possible covenant restrictions, such as type or style of fencing required, when planning for a fencing project. Please note that contractors must have a valid state license and a current City of Aiken business license to build any size fence in the city limits.

Do ordinary repairs require a permit?

Maybe. A permit in not required for repair work unless the project involves extending utilities, such as water lines, plumbing lines, and electrical lines, etc. Please contact the Building Inspection Division at 803-642-7675 if you have questions about whether a project will require a permit.

What height fence do I need to have around a pool?

The top of the fence should be at least 48” above grade measured on the side of the fence that faces away from the swimming pool.

Are there any height restrictions on a detached building I want to add in my yard? Is there a size restriction?

Yes. The ridge of a detached building can’t be higher than the ridge of the house. Also, the total square footage of all accessory buildings can’t be more than 50% of the heated square footage of the primary dwelling. In the case of a detached garage with a bonus room above, both floors count as accessory square footage.

How big do the windows need to be for my bedroom addition?

The minimum clear open area of at least one window in each bedroom must be 5.7 square feet to allow a fireman and the occupant to escape in case of a fire. Grade floor openings can be 5.0 square feet if window sill height is not more than 44 inches above finished ground level outside window.

Can I have a window above my tub or shower?

Yes. Glass block windows are permitted. All other windows must be tempered glass if the bottom edge of the window is less than 60” above the floor or walking surface or 60” horizontal from the water’s edge of a bathtub.

What are the requirements for ramps?

Residential and commercial ramps shall have a maximum slope of 1” vertically to 12” horizontally. For residences a handrail is required on one side. Handrails are required on both sides for businesses if the ramp rises more than 6”. All handrails shall be 34”-38” above the ramp surface.

When are handrails required on porches and decks?

On porches and decks when open sides are more than 30” above grade within 36” of the edge of the walking surface must have handrails/guardrails not less than 36” high. When fixed seating is adjacent to a guardrail, the height of the guardrail is to be measured from the seat.

When are handrails required on steps?

Handrails are required on at least one side of each continuous run of steps with four or more risers. Handrail height minimum of 34” is required. Guardrails are required on steps more than 30” above grade. Minimum height of guardrail is 34” to a maximum of 38”.

Are handicapped restrooms required in a business?

Yes, for all new construction. Please call the Building Inspection Division at 803-642-7675 if you have questions about handicapped restroom requirements for existing businesses.

Who do I contact to request a building address change or the addition of a building number to my building?

Please call the Engineering & Utilities Department at 803-642-7610.

How does a builder find out the addresses and tax parcel numbers assigned to lots in a neighborhood?

Please call the Engineering & Utilities Department at 803-642-7610.

Who do I talk to about placing a roll-off container (dumpster) for construction debris on the public sidewalk or in the street?

Please call the Aiken Department of Public Safety at 803-642-7620.

Who issues elevator permits and inspects elevators?

Please call the SCDLLR’s Office of Elevators and Amusement Rides at 803-896-7630 or online at http://www.llr.state.sc.us/elevators/index.asp?=contact.htm.

Where can I find general information about mold?

lease contact South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)’s Air Quality Bureau at 803-898-4123 or go to DHEC online for more information at http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/baq/IndoorAirQuality/ . The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also has mold information on their web page located at http://www.epa.gov/mold/.

How do I find a certified mold risk assessor, inspector, or contractor in my area?

At this time, the state of South Carolina does not license mold inspectors. However, there are several professional associations that offer training and certification for mold inspectors. We recommend searching online or in the Yellow Pages for a “certified mold inspector”.

Where can I find general information about lead?

Please contact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at 800-424-5323 or online at http://www.epa.gov/lead/index.html.

How do I find a certified lead risk assessor, inspector, or contractor in my area?

Look under “Lead” in the phone book or call the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-5323. You may also contact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Lead Program at 404-562-8994 or online at http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/toolkits.htm.

Who do I call regarding lead paint training and certification (Lead-Safe Certification Program)?

Please contact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Lead Program at 404-562-8994 or online at http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/toolkits.htm.

Who do I call about lead disposal issues?

Please contact the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)’s Bureau of Land and Waste Management at 803-896-4000 for questions about disposal of wastes painted with lead-based paint or go online to http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/lwm/.

Who do I contact regarding asbestos inspections/removal?

Please call the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)’s Air Quality Bureau at 803-898-4123 or go to DHEC online for more information at http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/baq/Asbestos/.

How do I file a complaint about a broken water or sewer line?

Please call the Engineering & Utilities Department at 803-642-7617.

Who do I contact about the installation of a water meter?

Please call the Finance Department at 803-642-7725.

Who do I contact regarding street paving?

Please call the Engineering & Utilities Department at 803-642-7610.

What Department do I call regarding easement between properties?

Please call the Engineering & Utilities Department at 803-642-7610.

Where can I get copies of the Zoning Regulation?

The Zoning Ordinance for the City of Aiken is available for viewing online at https://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=15314. Please contact the Planning Department at 803-642-7608 if you have any questions.

Who can I talk to regarding Landmark/Historical buildings?

Please call the Planning Department at 803-642-7608.

Where does one obtain a copy of the ordinance for fire sprinklers?

Please call the Planning Department at 803-642-7608.

What department can I contact to become a licensed contractor?

Please contact the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (LLR) in Columbia by calling 803-896-4300 or by emailing contactllr@llr.sc.gov.

Where can I take the test to become a licensed contractor?

Please contact the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (LLR) in Columbia by calling 803-896-4300.