In 2022, the city of Nashville, TN was the 5th fastest growing metro area in the United States. With an exceptionally strong economy and a thriving culture, Nashville is an ideal location for businesses in a wide range of industries, from food service and tourism to healthcare and IT. On top of that, low taxes and reasonable regulations make Nashville incredibly business-friendly. This is even the case when it comes to getting Nashville building permits.

However, there are still some challenges to consider when it comes to obtaining building permits for commercial projects in Nashville. Alongside the usual complexities of most permitting processes, the City of Nashville has jurisdiction over an uncommonly large area. That, paired with the sheer volume of permit applications coming in because of the rapid growth, and the Nashville Metro Codes Department is prone to becoming overloaded.

In order to get out ahead of these challenges, it’s good to have a general overview of what the permitting process in Nashville looks like.

Key Players in the Nashville Permitting Process

Nashville has one of the more straightforward permitting processes in the nation. When applying for commercial permits, you can expect to interact with the Nashville Metro Codes Department, the Zoning Division and Zoning Examiners, and the Nashville Fire Marshall on a semi-regular basis.

What Are the Steps Involved in Obtaining Nashville Building Permits?

Step 1: Due Diligence and Gathering Documents

The first step in acquiring building permits in any municipality involves performing due diligence and gathering all required documentation.

And while Nashville is simpler than most metropolitan areas in this regard, the city does require complete site plans to be submitted at the beginning of most commercial construction projects. Notable exceptions include additions, changes of use, or new construction, in which case site plans may be submitted after getting a temporary application number.

Outside of that, requirements may vary depending on the type of construction project you’re working on. An experienced permit expediter can help identify any additional needs related to your specific project.

Step 2: Complete the Initial Commercial Permit Application

After gathering all required permit application materials, it’s time to submit. Nashville requires the Commercial Permit Application and an electronic copy of the site plan to be submitted via email.

Next, your application will be assigned to a zoning examiner. You’ll also be assigned a permit application number and may receive further instructions for uploading additional electronic documents.

Step 3: Submit the Remaining Documentation

The third step in obtaining Nashville building permits is deceptively simple: after you receive your permit application number, you can digitally submit all remaining application materials.

But remember that accuracy and attention to detail are crucial at this stage. While Nashville may lack some of the more rigid complexities of municipalities like Miami or San Diego, minor oversights can still cause significant issues. An experienced permitting expediter can help ensure that all your application materials are complete and accurate so you can avoid delays and keep your project on schedule.

Step 4: Permit Review and Approval

Once materials are submitted accurately, your application goes into the review process where each department will assess it based on their own sets of regulations and requirements.

Consistent follow-up is absolutely essential here. Remember that Nashville’s jurisdiction covers a significant portion of the surrounding area and with the recent growth, building officials can’t possibly stay on top of every single application that comes through. You can track the progress of your application through Nashville’s online portal, but staying in touch personally may make the difference between your application receiving timely approval or getting lost in the shuffle for a few weeks.

This is where working with a permitting expediter becomes invaluable. Permitting expediters are skilled at navigating the permitting process so they can keep you informed and help you set realistic expectations for the rest of your project.

Step 5: Permit Acquisition

Upon approval, your Nashville building permits will be issued. Inspections are required throughout the construction process to ensure continued compliance.

Requirements Specific to Getting Nashville Building Permits

Because Nashville is less stringent than most metropolitan areas, there are no requirements unique to the city itself. However, it’s good to keep the following areas in mind.

Zoning and Land Use Requirements

Zoning restrictions and land use requirements in Nashville are similar to those found in other areas of the U.S. It’s important to ensure that your project aligns with the local designated land use and zoning regulations.

Depending on the nature and scope of your project, you may need to obtain special permits or variances. These are permissions granted by the local authorities that deviate from the standard zoning requirements. If your project qualifies, it’s important to investigate the specific permits or variances required and initiate the application process accordingly.

Environmental Impact Assessment

Determining whether your project requires environmental studies is an important step in the permitting process. Depending on the scale and potential environmental impact, local authorities may require an assessment for things such as stormwater management, waste disposal, and air quality.

Fire Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Fire safety and emergency preparedness are also crucial for obtaining Nashville building permits. Ensure that your project meets the necessary fire safety requirements, which may include alarms, sprinkler systems, and other suppression measures. Emergency exits should also be in place and accessible for people with disabilities.

Accessibility and ADA Compliance

And finally, ADA compliance is a must-have for every commercial project. Making your building accessible to people with disabilities is important to obtaining Nashville building permits and to achieving the overall purpose of your building. Installing ramps, designated parking, and other necessary accommodations is a good place to start.

FAQs for Obtaining Nashville Building Permits

Q: How long does it take to get a permit in Nashville?

A: Ideally, the permitting process in Nashville can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks. This includes the submittal and two separate reviews. On average, however, commercial permits can take longer depending on the scale, scope, and specific requirements of the project.

Q: Are there any expedited permitting processes available?

A: Nashville does not offer an expedited process through the city. Working with a third-party permit expediter like Scout Services, however, can help ensure accurate permit applications and timely reviews.

Q: What are the most common reasons for permit application delays?

A: Permit applications are most commonly delayed due to incomplete or inaccurate application materials. Something as minor as a mismatched date, a missing signature, or an omitted element on the cover sheet can result in your application being stuck in review for weeks. Again, consistent follow-up is crucial.

Get Your Nashville Building Permits with Support from Scout Services

At Scout, we deliver permit expediting services for a wide range of commercial projects. Our locally trained Field Scouts provide expertise for municipalities across the nation*, bringing the professional guidance you need for a smoother, more efficient permitting experience.

Our goal at Scout is to take the stress out of commercial permits so you can focus on keeping your project on track.

Do you have a project coming up? Whether you’re in Nashville or any other area of the country, we’re here to help.

Get in touch with our team today.

Disclaimer: While we aim to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information possible, the local regulations and standards that govern the permitting process are constantly evolving. Reach out to us about your next project and we’ll connect you with one of our permitting experts in your area.

*Scout Services does not operate in the New York metropolitan area.