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Building Department FAQs


What is a building permit?
A building permit is a document which grants legal permission to start the construction or alteration of a building or other structure in accordance with approved drawings and specifications.

Do I need a permit for my project?
Permits are required for new construction, additions, conversions, alterations, swimming pools, driveways, sheds, walls, installation of sanitary, water service and irrigation systems, extensions or modifications to the plumbing, heating/cooling, ventilation and electrical systems, generator installations etc. Permits are NOT required for re-roofing or decks (that do not have roof). Fence and sign permits are issued through the Planning and Zoning Department. 
**This is not meant to be an inclusive list. If you do not see your project listed or have a unique situation, please contact the Building Department for more information.
Why do I need a permit?
Permits ensure that construction within our municipality meets with standards set out in the New York State Building Code and the Code of the Town of Clarence. Your home renovation project must meet basic requirements for health, safety and structural soundness. Beyond this, the permit process makes sure that your plans are in line with other town requirements, such as zoning regulations and historic building designations.
 What happens if I don't get a permit?
The property owner may be subject to legal action for failure to obtain a building permit. If you carry out a renovation project that requires a building permit without having one, the town can issue a "Stop Work" order, which remains in effect until you obtain a permit. If the work doesn't meet the requirements of the building code, you may well have to redo the work at your own cost.
Work performed without a required building permit may hold up the sale of your property in the future and may also affect an insurance claim. Before any work begins on your home, check with your insurance representative, who can explain exactly what is needed to ensure continuous and adequate coverage, both during and after the renovation.

I've decided to build a house in Clarence. What is the permit process?
Visit the New Home Permit Process page for information.

How do I get a permit?
Stop by the Building Department office at 6221 Goodrich Road between the hours of 7:00am – 3:30pm to file an application for a permit. Each permit requires different information.  Call the office at 716-741-8950 in advance to find out what information you need to bring with you.   

 Who should get the permit- the homeowner or the contractor?
As the homeowner, you are legally responsible to ensure that a building permit is obtained when required. Your contractor or designer may apply for a permit, but the homeowner should ensure that a permit has been issued prior to any work beginning.

How do I pay for a permit?
After you are notified that your permit is complete, you must go to the Town Clerk's office to pay for your permit (Hours:8:30-4:30). The Clerk's office will issue you a receipt which you must bring to the Building Department to sign for and pick-up your completed permit. Fees are payable to Town of Clarence.
What inspections do I need on my project and how do I schedule them?
A list of inspections for new construction are listed here. All inspections must be made at least 24 hours in advance- with the exception of plumbing inspections, which can possibly be scheduled same-day. Inspections can be scheduled by calling the Building Department office at 741-8950 between the hours of 7:00 am - 3:30 pm.

I am currently building a home- how many inspections will need to be done?
The code enforcement officers conduct an average of 15 inspections of a singe family dwelling prior to completion.

 Do I need to have a certificate of occupancy prior to moving into my newly constructed home?
All permitted projects require inspections and a certificate of occupancy or certificate of compliance prior to occupying or using the building or space covered under the permit. This will be issued after it is determined during, a final inspection, that the project meets the applicable codes and standards.

 I need a plumber- can I hire anyone I want?         
All plumbers that do work in Clarence must be licensed by the Town.

Some things to consider when choosing a contractor:

  • Check for the contractor's experience in the type of construction proposed.
  • Interview the contractor and check the contractor's references.
  • Check availability of your chosen contractor with the State Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau.
  • Arrange a contract and ensure the contract covers all the work, including who prepares drawings and who arranges for inspections.
  • Before signing the contract, check the drawings to ensure they comply with what you want. Also check specifications and material proposed.
  • Confirm the type of warranty that is being given, and on a large contract, you may wish to obtain legal counsel before signing.
  • Confirm who is obtaining the building permit: contractor or homeowner. When the contractor is applying for the permit, make sure you see the permit card before allowing work to start. 
 Do I need a variance? How do I get one?
Information about and requests for variances are handled by the Planning and Zoning Department.

Do I need to have disability insurance to get a permit?
If you have employees, you need to have disability insurance. Proof of insurance must be given to the Building Department on a DB-120.1 Form. If you will be completing the work yourself and have no employees, you need to complete a waiver. You can obtain this waiver form by logging on to the Workers' Compensation Board's website, www.wcb.ny.gov. The form can be completed online and printed for submission to the Building Department.

 Do I need a permit to demolish a building?
All structures will require a permit to be demolished with the exception of detached residential structures and buildings previously used for agricultural purposes.

Does the Town keep blueprints for structures? How do I get a copy of them?
The Town retains records of all permitted projects in the Town of Clarence. The public is able to request copies of records puruant to the Freedom of Information Laws (FOIL) of New York State. To request records, either stop by the Building Department or mail/fax us a completed FOIL Request Form. There is a fee to receive copies of records. When your copies are completed, we will contact you. Copies may be paid for/picked up at the Town Clerk's Office.   

 What if I see something in a restaurant or store that I feel is unsafe?
Call the Building Department Monday-Friday from 7am - 3:30 pm or you may file the complaint through the Whistleblower Hotline. If the condition is of a fire safety nature, and you feel that it requires immediate attention, you may contact Amherst Fire Dispatch at 689-1212 for referral to the proper public officials.