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Do you have questions about your one- or two-family home project? Not sure where to turn? Look no further -- we've got the solution just for you. Our Residential Technical Assistance Center is staffed with code officials specializing in residential building code issues. They can answer your questions and offer guidance as you try to navigate your project, whether you're a homeowner doing your own work or an experienced contractor or architect with out-of-the-ordinary questions.
There are three ways to reach us...we're here to help!
Note: For questions pertaining to zoning, i.e. building setbacks, fencing, and property use please contact the appropriate planning/zoning jurisdiction:
Charlotte, Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Mint Hill, Matthews, or Pineville
Do I need a building permit to add a room to my house? You can add on to your
house if there is enough room in your yard and the addition meets the current
NC building codes. Contact the appropriate zoning jurisdiction for your area
regarding set-backs and space requirements for the addition. Links to each
zoning jurisdiction within Mecklenburg County are listed above.
What are the building set-backs for my property? A building setback is the
required distance that a building (structure) must be located from the property
lines of the adjacent property. The setbacks are determined by the appropriate
zoning jurisdiction and based on the zoning district. Please contact the
appropriate planning/zoning department having jurisdiction in your area. Links
to each zoning jurisdiction within Mecklenburg County are listed above.
Do I need a permit for a storage shed or an accessory building? A storage shed, or an
accessory building will need a building permit if any dimension is greater than
12 feet in any one dimension. If the building is less than 12 feet, it will not
need a building permit, but it will need a zoning permit.
What is the footing depth requirement? A footing in Mecklenburg
County must be at least 12 inches below grade, that is, the bottom of the
concrete must be 12 inches below the surface. This must be inspected before any
concrete is placed. If the soil is soft or not compacted well enough the usual
solution is to dig deeper until you hit good hard dirt and support a load of 2000 pounds per square foot.
Can I build my own house? The state of North Carolina
allows you to build your own home provided you personally will reside in the
home and that it is not for rent or intended for sale within one year after you
complete all construction. You will have to be bonded with Mecklenburg County.
As an option, you could choose to be the general contractor and hire all the
sub-contractors to work for you. You could pull the building permit and list
each licensed contractor on your permit. They would call in their own
inspections, but you would be acting as the general contractor for the project
and responsible for all work.
Can I convert my deck into a sunroom? Yes, you can but it will
need a full, masonry foundation built underneath it with a continuous concrete
footing. Most decks are built using wood posts on individual footings. When a
deck is converted to a sunroom the windows and the roof create additional wind
loads on the room which must be supported by a full foundation. The only
alternative to this would be to have a NC licensed engineer design a post or
pier foundation that would support the additional loading. A building permit
and an electrical permit is required for this and the floor, walls and roof
will have to be insulated. If the exterior door leading to this sunroom is
removed, a licensed mechanical contractor will have to provide heat to the
Do my plans have to be sealed by an architect or engineer? Generally, residential
plans do not require a seal from an architect or engineer. However, when the
plans contain structural elements exceeding the limits of the NC Residential
Code, or otherwise not conforming to this code, these elements shall be
designed in accordance with accepted engineering practice. This portion of the
plan must be sealed by an architect or engineer. In other words, if it is not
described in the code book it will need a seal. Examples of this would be truss
roof or floor systems, engineered wood beams like LVL or steel beams, unusual
foundations or retaining walls, unusual construction methods like log homes or
timber framed structures.
When does a window have to be tempered? Windows in hazardous
locations require safety glazing which is usually tempered glass in residential
construction. The code book describes 7 locations considered hazardous.
Generally it would be: glass in doors, a window within 2 feet of a door in the
same wall plane, a window less than 18 inches to the floor with a single pane
more than 9 square feet, any glass around a pool, hot tub, shower etc., windows
near a stairway, railing or a landing, all of these locations would require
tempered or other type of safety glazing.
Can I finish a room in the attic or basement? It is possible to finish a
room in the basement or the attic if it can be done in conformance with the
current NC residential codes. It would require a building permit plus
electrical, mechanical and plumbing permits, if there is plumbing involved. A
plan review is not required if the total cost is less than $175,000. If the
project is adding a second or third story to the house plan review would be
required and a NC licensed engineer would have to inspect the foundation for
soundness and its ability to carry the added load and provide drawings and/or a
letter providing information on how to structurally add the new stories. There
are egress, headroom and stair requirements also. Contact RTAC for further
Can I have an outdoor range in my screen porch? An outdoor range in a
screened in porch is allowed if the range is rated for outdoor use and it has
an exhaust hood and vent specified by the range manufacturer for use outdoors.
The "rating" is only assigned to products which have been tested by
an approved testing agency like UL or Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. for this
type application. If this were a gas range, 2 permits would be required,
electrical and mechanical.
What is the rise and run requirement for stairs in North Carolina? The maximum rise or step
height in NC is 81/4 inches. There is no minimum. The minimum tread depth is 9
inches with a 3/4-inch nosing. There is no maximum tread depth. A nosing is not
required where the tread depth is a minimum of 11 inches.
How much insulation do I need? In Mecklenburg County the
insulation requirements are: R-19 in a floor above a crawl space or garage,
R-15 in the exterior wall cavity or R-13 in the exterior wall cavity plus an
R-2.5 continuous insulation and R-38 in the attic. If there is a full basement
and the area is heated or conditioned space the basement walls would be
insulated to R-5 for continuous insulated sheathing on the interior or exterior
of the home or R-13 cavity insulation at the interior of the basement wall or
crawl space wall. A full day-light wall would need R-15 in the exterior wall
cavity or R-13 in the exterior wall cavity plus an R-2.5 continuous insulation.
RTAC Staff: 980-314-0919
Scott Westbrook, CTAC/RTAC Manager, 980-314-3114
Tim Parnell, Senior Plans Examiner