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The answer is almost always. A permit is required anytime work is done on a building or structure, or the systems serving the structure (including plumbing, mechanical and electrical wiring) with a few exceptions. In general, work on a one and two-family dwelling that is structural in nature or exceeds $15,000 in value will require a permit. The $15,000 exemption is not applicable to commercial or multi-family structures.
The North Carolina State Building Code states: "No person, firm or corporation shall erect, construct, enlarge, install, alter, repair, move, improve, remove, convert or demolish any building, structure, or service system without first obtaining a permit for such from the Inspections Department having jurisdiction."
Replacing an existing deck, steps and/or railings.
Replacing an air conditioning/heating system
Adding a ceiling fan (where one previously did not exist)
Kitchen, bathroom and other interior renovations involving structural/wall changes
Converting a porch to a sunroom (adding windows)
Siding and window replacement (provided the total value of the work exceeds $15,000)
These are examples but you are encouraged to contact the Planning and Inspections Department with any questions you may have at 252-354-3338. Our office is open:
The checklists and instructions for the various types of permits are available on the Permits Applications & Checklists page and will give you guidance on what needs to be submitted to obtain a permit.
Applications for building permits, signs, tree removal and all construction projects are only issued after they have been reviewed and approved by the Town's Planning Department. Following initial plan review generally, two things happen:
Yes. However, if your home is a rental property (short term or long term) then you may not act as your own contractor in any capacity.
If the property owner is unable to act as their own contractor, then a licensed General Contractor is required any time the value of the work being performed exceeds $30,000. Work under $30,000 does not require a licensed General Contractor.
The cost of the permit is based on several factors. Please view the current Permit Fee Schedule (PDF).
A CAMA Minor Permit is required for all activity on the oceanfront that requires a building or land-disturbing permit. In addition, CAMA Minor Permits are required for all activity requiring a building or land-disturbing permit within 575 feet of the normal high water of Bogue Sound. CAMA Minor Permits are processed through the Town's Planning and Inspections Office.
Yes, these types of development activities require a CAMA General Permit which is issued through the Morehead City Office of the NC Division of Coastal Management and they can be reached at 252-808-2808. You must also obtain a Town building permit for these development activities which can only be issued after the CAMA General Permit has been obtained.
A grading permit is required any time a property owner is undertaking land-disturbing activity like grading and the placement of fill on a lot. In general, landscaping activities do not require a permit.
In 2022, the Town of Emerald Isle introduced a program to address the vegetation needs throughout the community: Call Before You Cut.
If you plan to prune or remove any trees or vegetation from your property, chances are you will need to secure a permit from the Emerald Isle Planning Department for tree removal in advance. Anything that has at least a 3 inch caliper, at 36 inches above grade will require a permit.
The Town's development regulations require that 35% of every residential lot remain undisturbed and in its natural state. Trees with a diameter of 3 inches or greater and located in the required natural area may only be removed under certain circumstances. Please contact the Planning and Inspections Office in order to obtain further guidance at 252-354-3338.
Any development activity within a special flood hazard area requires a flood development permit in addition to other required permits. The Planning and Inspections Office can assist you in determining whether or not your property is in a special flood hazard area.