Before You Build - Small Projects

1. Overview

Are you planning a small project in your home or on your property? Small projects include:

  • Building an addition
  • Removing and replacing drywall 
  • Changing the layout of your home
  • Minor repairs to steps, storefronts, decks, pools, and garages
  • Installing fences 
  • Repairing and replacing driveways

For most construction projects, you’ll need a permit. Getting a permit is a way of making sure that your project is safe and follows local law and New York State rules ("building codes").

This page will walk you through the general process of planning and completing a small, residential project.

Keep in mind that this is only guidance. Check in with the Plans Examiner staff in the Central Permit Office for more details about what you need to do for your project. You can also visit our Residential Permitting Discovery Tool


If you have questions about your project, contact us at 315-448-8600 or email

2. Look into the rules

Check your zoning

Before you start, make sure your project is allowed by our zoning laws. The way that your property is zoned will affect the kind of projects you’re allowed to do.

For example, you can only build a pool in certain properties. If you live in a historic district, there are extra rules about what’s allowed. Learn more about permits and zoning reviews.

Review our safety guidelines

Your project needs to follow our rules for building safety. This includes fire prevention, health and safety, and environmental impact. You can find these regulations on our page for the Building Codes Review division. When you submit your permit application, we will review your project to make sure it meets safety requirements.


If you have questions about your project, contact us at 315-448-8600 or email

3. Plan your project

Decide whether you want to hire contractor or do the work yourself

The New York State Attorney General’s Office has information about how to choose a contractor. Visit their website to:

  • Learn how to find a trustworthy contractor
  • Check the status of a contractor’s license
  • Find out if people have filed complaints about a contractor or if the contractor has been sued

Create scale drawings of your project

Most projects will require scale drawings. Lots of websites can help you create scale floor plans, site plans, and elevations, such as:

Larger projects may require more detailed drawing sets. Some require a stamp from an engineer or architect. 

Follow our guidelines for your finalized construction plans

  • They must be drawn to scale.
  • They must include:
    • A survey and detailed site plan that shows elevations and contours
    • Location of the building you are working on and all buildings that are directly next to it
    • Water service and the sewer and storm drainage 
    • Building code analysis/code review for your specified occupancy
  • Structural plans must include complete foundation details, elevation and section views, and framing details.
  • If your project costs more than $20,000 and includes structural changes to the building that could affect its safety, you’ll need an architect or engineer’s stamp on your construction drawings. 

Gather other information and supporting documents 

What else will you need? The specifics depend on your project. But most permits will require more documents such as:

  • 1 copy of a stamped survey of your property
    Make sure to copy it at full size (don’t reduce the size when copying it). We don’t accept faxes of survey maps.
  • Workers’ Compensation waiver or certificate of insurance
    If you’re doing the work yourself, you’ll need a waiver. If you have a contractor doing the work, you’ll need either a:
  • Workers’ Compensation waiver (CE-200) (if the contractor doesn’t have Workers’ Compensation Insurance)
  • Certificate of Workers’ Compensation Insurance that names the City of Syracuse as the certificate holder
  • If it’s relevant to your project, you may want to also submit supporting documents in your application, such as soil reports, and/or structural, energy, or drainage calculations.

Will your construction project block the street or sidewalk? If so, you’ll need a liability waiver.


If you have questions about your project, contact us at 315-448-8600 or email

4. Submit your application and documents and pay the fee

When you’re ready, bring your documents and permit application fee to the Central Permit Office.

City Hall Commons, Room 101
201 East Washington Street
Syracuse, NY 13202
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

There is a limited amount of free parking available in front of the CPO on Warren Street.

Plan to be there for 30 minutes at least. We’ll go over your application and documents with you.

If you’re submitting design professional plans, please upload them to our goPost portal.

Pay your fee

You can pay the fees with a debit card, credit card, or a check or money order (made out to “City of Syracuse”).

The amount you need to pay will depend on:

  • The type of project 
  • The estimated cost of your project (including labor and materials) 

Getting approval

For smaller projects that don’t need additional reviews, you may get approval for your permit the same day. This is called “over the counter” approval.

For more complex projects, you leave your supporting documents with us or submit them to our goPost portal. Our staff will review them in detail. Some projects require a plan check. This is when different departments need to review your plans to make sure they follow the local and New York State laws.

On average, applications that require a plan check take 2 weeks to process. 


If you have questions about your project, contact us at 315-448-8600 or email

5. Follow up on your permit application

When we let you know the results of your permit application, we’ll give you guidance about what happens next. 

All projects will require an inspection. After you get your permit, some projects will also require electrical or HVAC permits.


If you have questions about your project, contact us at 315-448-8600 or email