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Importance and Need For Solar Permits

As is common practice with most structural changes to a property, having appropriate solar permits is required when considering this alternative energy source. Municipal and county state regulations come into play, requiring property owners to apply and obtain permission before making this important change to any type of property. However, residential, commercial and industrial properties may vary when it comes to regulatory guidelines. Further, the time required for installation and the fees associated with the application process vary according to the jurisdiction.   

There are two methods of requesting approval. Either the property owner or a licensed contractor must submit viable plans to the correct offices requesting the approval. Obtaining the approval differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, often meaning that it can be difficult for a property owner to seek the necessary solar permits alone. Hiring a contractor simplifies the process for the property owner.

Once the application is submitted, the installer must wait a number of business days for the application to be reviewed. The number of days will differ depending on the jurisdiction and the type of property of the proposed installation. Generally, a residential application will be reviewed within 10 business days, and a commercial application will be reviewed within 21 business days. When obtaining a quote from a licensed contractor, the purchaser should ask about the estimated time of installation, including the estimated days needed for the jurisdiction approval of the installation.

Even the type of documents necessary in the application process will vary according to the jurisdiction. Electrical plans, equipment plans, location plans, elevation plans, roof plans, site plans, construction plans, projected size, and devices and materials utilized may all be part of the required documents necessary for application approval. Once the documents and application have been submitted, an engineer will complete an inspection of the site to ensure the proposed plans will work with the site.

Fees associated with solar permits will again vary by jurisdiction. Fees may be affected by site zone; type of property; inspection costs; application, processing, and filing charges; local petitions; and zoning variances. Commonly, contractors will include the costs of the fees in the quoted cost of the photovoltaic panels. To make sure there is proper pricing, a potential purchaser should ask the contractor whether or not the fees associated with the installation are included in the cost.

Once approval has been provided and the proper solar permits obtained, installation can begin. When completed by a contractor, the installation usually takes about one and a half days, depending on the type of property. During the installation an inspector can arrive at any time to inspect the process. In addition, the completed project must have one final inspection before the activation of the array, generally preformed by a utility company.

Photovoltaic panels are a popular choice for property owners. Acquiring the right solar permits are often necessary, although incorrect information or missing documentation can cause an application to be delayed or denied. Hiring a professional installer or contractor helps the property owner insure proper installation from the start of the project to the finish.


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