Home to the headquarters of Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Delta Air, and a list of other Fortune 100 and other major companies, Atlanta, GA is a hub of commercial activity in the United States. In 2022, Atlanta was also one of the fastest-growing metro areas in terms of residential influx, making it an ideal location for businesses to expand and thrive. When it comes to getting Atlanta building permits for commercial projects, however, the process can be incredibly involved. That’s why we put together this beginner’s guide to help get you get started.

Key Players in the Atlanta Permitting Process

The primary authority for Atlanta building permits is the Department of City Planning Office of Buildings. They’re in charge of construction and signage projects and are responsible for reviewing applications, issuing permits, conducting inspections, and carrying out code enforcement.

The Office of Zoning and Development is also involved. This segment of the local government maintains regulations on building height, size, placement on the lot, and the density of buildings in any given area, along with a range of other more specific issues.

And, if you’re building in a historic or landmark area, you can expect to interact with the Office of Design, which is responsible for overseeing compliance and maintaining the aesthetics of certain areas within the City of Atlanta.

What Are the Steps Involved in Obtaining Atlanta Building Permits?

Step 1: Research and Gathering Documents

Step one to obtaining Atlanta building permits involves thorough research and gathering all required documents. In Atlanta, all projects require the same basic documentation, including a cover sheet that lists various details including occupancy information, building height, and zoning district.

In addition to this, some projects may require supplemental files, such as a signed and sealed survey completed by a Georgia-registered Land Surveyor. These types of documents can vary by project and it’s important to include everything in your application in order to get into review.

The permitting experts at Scout can perform this step on your behalf, so you can focus on your project with the confidence that your application will be submitted successfully on the first go.

Step 2: Complete the Initial Commercial Permit Application

When you’re ready to submit your application, Atlanta offers a convenient online application portal for the process. After submitting, the Department of City Planning (DCP) will run a completeness check on your application. Once your application is accepted, you can pay the required fees in person or online via the ACA portal.

Step 3: Initial Permit Review

Once your application enters into review, it will be sent to various departments, including Building, Zoning, and Arborist. The initial review process takes an estimated 10-14 business days on average, and any comments or approvals will be noted directly in the online portal.

While it sounds straightforward, permitting expediters can help ensure that your application doesn’t get lost in the shuffle by conducting regular follow-ups and keeping you apprised of your review status.

Step 4: Revisions

After the initial review is complete, the applicant has the opportunity to make revisions or respond to comments in the online application portal. Depending on the changes that need to be made, this may trigger a second review phase. If a project requires more than 3 reviews, you may be asked to pay additional fees to cover the expenses.

Step 5: Permit Issuance

Upon review completion, the DCP may request any outstanding supplement documentation that still needs to be submitted, like a contractor’s license. Final fees may also be invoiced at this point, which can also be paid online.

Once approved, all submitted plans and materials will receive a stamp from the DCP and permits can be downloaded from the online portal.

The City of Atlanta, unlike many municipalities, provides a detailed outline of these steps on its website. However, the system is extensive and with information spread across various web pages and PDFs, it can be extremely difficult to track down every piece of information that pertains to your specific project.

At Scout Services, we specialize in permit expediting for commercial projects. We also have the experience needed to navigate through the Atlanta building permits system so your project can stay on track without costly delays or back-and-forth with the city.

Requirements Specific to Getting Atlanta Building Permits

Special Districts

When applying for Atlanta building permits, you may come across some of Atlanta’s zoning overlays, such as the BeltLine, which is an initiative that aims to increase the connectivity between green space, trails, and transit within the city.

Other special districts include the Historic and Landmark districts, as well as the Special Public Interest districts. All projects in these areas are subject to additional regulations that may impact significant parts of your project, so make sure you’re aware of them before submitting your application.

Entitlement Approvals

Certain projects in Atlanta may also require entitlement approvals. More information can be found on their site or you can contact us at Scout Services and we help you determine whether this is something that applies to your project.

FAQs for Obtaining Atlanta Building Permits

Q: How long does the review process take in Atlanta?

The initial review takes 10-14 business days on average. Additional reviews may be required for comments and changes.

Q: Are there any express permit options available?

For commercial projects, there are some over-the-counter permit review programs available for things such as:

  • Minor interior improvements limited to an area of 5000 sq. ft.
  • Minor MEP work
  • Re-roof without structural changes
  • And more found in the Atlanta DCP Permitting Guide

Q: Can I submit a new construction project application a the same time as a Land Development application?

The City of Atlanta does not allow simultaneous applications outside of demolitions and land development applications.

Partner With Scout Services for a Streamlined Atlanta Building Permits Process

At Scout Services, it’s our mission to simplify the commercial permitting process no matter where you are in the U.S. With our national reach and local knowledge, we can help you navigate complex permitting requirements and review systems for a wide range of projects, including solar, hospitality, signage, telecom, and more.

We’re experienced and trusted partners for architects, engineers, GCs, and business owners in a variety of industries. With our commitment to collaboration and constant communication, we handle the permitting process so you can focus on doing what you do best.

Do you need to apply for Atlanta building permits soon? Get us involved early to ensure a streamlined and well-managed process.

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.