Found A New Location For Your Business & Need To Renovate? Not So Fast.

By Robert Hand
May 21, 2023

Starting a business in a new location often means you need to make some changes in the layout so the space is efficient for your business, so you will need two things for a successful project: first, a good contractor and, second, a building permit from the City. This article details the steps in obtaining a permit and why some can be issued quickly and others may take years.

Building Permit ABC's

new orleans building permit

A building permit is meant to protect the City, neighbors and the neighborhood by ensuring compliance with building codes. Just ask Joe Bruno. You need a permit for any repair that changes the structure or use, but there are different requirements for minor changes versus changes over 50% of the assessed value. The only times you do not need a permit involves simple repairs, such as:

  1. Repairing flooring. 
  2. Removing aluminum siding.
  3. Interior painting.
  4. Roofing or gutters
  5. Fences

How To Obtain Your Building Permit

Building permits are issued by the Department of Safety & Permits at City Hall, and while the application can be filed online, your contractor has to make the application.

Here is the information you will need to file for a building permit:

  1. Municipal address of the property
  2. Market value of work to be done (even if you’re doing the work yourself)
  3. Owner’s name, address and telephone number
  4. Architect / Contractor name, address and telephone number (where applicable)
  5. Recorded Act of Sale, if the property has recently changed ownership
  6. Detailed description of work to be performed
  7. Plot plan reflecting all dimensions of the lot and all structures, setbacks to property lines and the location and dimensions of off-street parking spaces. If you are building an addition the square footage of the existing structure and the proposed addition are also required.
  8. Complete plans, stamped with live seals from a Louisiana licensed Architect or Civil Engineer, are required for all new construction, additions, and structural renovations.
  9. Previous/current and proposed use of the structure
  10. Number of floors or levels in the structure
  11. Certificate of Appropriateness, if the property is within a local historic district or a designated landmark
  12. Benchmark Certificate for all new construction or projects where work exceeds 50% of the value of the existing building
  13. Copy of a current Certificate of Registration for your contractor as well as the company name and license number.
  14. Check or money order payable to the City of New Orleans.

That is just for a Building Permit. These are the other permits you will need:

  1. Electrical: if you replace any electrical fixture other than changing light bulbs.
  2. Mechanical: Any repair of the air conditioning system, gas lines or elevators.
  3. Plumbing: Any water pipes replaced or remove any plumbing fixture. Only an Orleans Parish master plumber may apply for this permit.

If you remove paint for a building, first you must notify the Building Division. The penalty for renovating before getting a permit is a fine of twice the building permit price of around $1,000, plus the normal fee.

You may also need approval from the Historic Districts Landmark Commission, The Vieux Carre Commission. If the renovation exceeds 50% of the value of the structure, here are the estimated costs for some of the items needed just to file a permit:

  1. Plot plan showing the lot and dimensions- $2,500 to $5,000
  2. Architectural plans- $10,000 to $25,000
  3. Benchmark certificate-a survey within the last 6 months. $2,000 to $5,000
  4. Foundation drawings-stamped by an architect or engineer. $2,500 to $5,000
  5. Contract for renovation stating the value. Free provided by contractor.

Keep Your Permit In Mind When Negotiating Your Lease

Permits for simple building renovations can take a few weeks but renovations valued at over 50% of the assessed value can take months and even years. Here is one example where a future tenant signed a lease and started the process November 3, 2021 and received the Certificate of Occupancy 18 months later on March 21, 2023. The moral of the story is: when you are negotiating a lease, make sure your lease payments to the landlord start when you receive your certificate of occupancy.

For more information on finding the perfect space for a new location, see our blog at

Louisiana Commercial Realty

Commercial Real Estate Experts
Robert Hand, MBA, CCIM, SIOR
Licensed in Louisiana & Mississippi
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