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Mon, March 18

Clarifying the parameters of permit requirements

Q: There are so many building permit application requirements in the city of Prescott. I was hoping you could take something that seems to be complex and make is easy to understand. - Mike, Prescott

A: Most residential projects require appropriate permits before construction can begin. The city permitting process is designed to ensure that all applicable federal, state and city regulations as well as local building codes and safety standards are enforced.

Every project is unique and there are required passages through the processing phase for permit requirements.

We are going to start with work that is exempt from permits; however, we encourage people to contact the City of Prescott to ensure all requirements are met.

A building permit in the City of Prescott is not required for the following:

• One-story detached residential accessory buildings on residential property being used as tool/storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet under the roof and does not have plumbing, electrical or mechanical components. This accessory building would require an approved site plan.

• Playground, gymnastic and similar equipment and structures for recreational and athletic activities, as long as they are for residential property use. Equipment on commercial property would require a permit.

• Fences not over 4 feet high at the front of the property and 6 feet high at the rear with no imposed loads. Fences require an approved site plan.

• Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge. Retaining walls require an approved site plan.

• Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1.

• Platforms, uncovered decks, walks and driveways not more than 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story below and are not part of an accessible route.

• Painting, interior and exterior, wallpapering, decorating work, installation of floor covering, cabinets or countertops, or similar finish work.

• Window awnings supported by an exterior wall when projecting not more than 54 inches from the wall and no additional support required.

• Prefabricated swimming pools with a depth less than 24 inches. The property must have the proper fencing and security.

• Sidewalks and driveways do not require a permit unless they affect drainage, e.g., the property is on a hill and/or there is a culvert on the property.

• Satellite dishes and antennas supported on the roof.

• Flagpoles not over 35 feet in height above finish grade when fully extended. A site plan is required.

• Any plugged-in appliance, including window air conditioners or swamp coolers.

• Reroofing of non-fire-rated residential structures except historic buildings and no sheathing is being replaced and not more than 2 layers of shingles.

• Garage door replacements. Small drywall repairs under 2 sheets or 64 square feet.

• Chimney cleaning and HVAC duct cleaning.

• Installation of screen doors. Any installation of low-voltage lighting.

• Change-out of faucets or toilets. Replacement of any electrical receptacle.

• Glass can be replaced inside the window frame; however replacement of the entire window does require a permit.

• Any emergency repair for appliances such as a hot water heater or electrical panel issues can be performed without a permit until the next business day when a permit must be issued and an inspection made.

• Landscaping does not require a permit, nor does the use of decorative materials. Irrigation systems and short rock walls do not. However, with the installation of an irrigation system, the backflow device does require a permit. Landscaping excludes fountains, fire pits and large decorative walls, which require permits. Landscape structures such as pergolas as long as they are free-standing and less than 200 square feet do not require a permit. Anything attached to the exterior structure requires a permit.

• Decorative wrought-iron fencing. A site plan is required.

• Installation of a mailbox; however, a right-of-way permit is required.

Exemption from the permit requirements of the Prescott City Building Code is not deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in violation of the provisions of the building code or any other laws or ordinances of the City of Prescott.

Next week we will discuss the items that require a building permit.

If you have any questions, call the City of Prescott Building Department at 777-1356.

Yavapai County Contractors Association (YCCA) is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities. Call YCCA for information on hiring a contractor at 778-0040. Submit questions to or through


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