General Development Process Steps

The City of Arlington’s Community Planning and Development Department’s mission is to make Arlington a premier City by engaging in visionary planning, building vibrant neighborhoods and serving residents, businesses and visitors. The Department assists small business owners throughout the permitting process and frequently asked questions regarding certificates of occupancy, building permits, inspections and more. 


Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What is the first thing I should do before I open my business? 
2. How do I know when I need a building permit? 
3. How do I apply for a building permit? 
4. How much will it cost to apply for a building permit? 
5. How long will it take to get my building plans approved? 
6. What happens when I receive my building permit? 
7. Are there additional considerations to open/expand a commercial business? 
8. How do I schedule inspections? 
9. How do I find a qualified Architect, Engineer, or Contractor?
10. How do I apply for a Certificate of Occupancy?
11. What happens if I don’t get a permit?
12. What happens if I get stuck?

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING I SHOULD DO BEFORE I OPEN MY BUSINESS?
The first, and most important step to consider, before you purchase property or sign a lease, is to find out what types of businesses are allowed at the property.  Whether you are thinking about opening a restaurant or buying a retail shop, you’ll want to confirm that desired uses are allowed, there are enough parking spaces, the building is suitable, along with many other factors. The best thing to do is schedule a free commercial consultation with the One Start Center, a one-stop shop for all property related services, to help verify your zoning (establishes the types of land use permitted on a specific tract of land) and ensure your property is platted (establishes the lot, block, and subdivision manes used in real estate transactions). 

DO I NEED A BUILDING PERMIT?
A building permit is required if you are considering any type of construction project that includes new, repair/alterations, remodeling, expansions, additions, or renovations to your business. 

A building permit is your legal permission to start construction; without a building permit your project may not comply with zoning requirements, fire codes, structural safety standards, and other building code requirements.  It is the property owner’s or tenant’s responsibility to make sure a building permit is obtained prior to commencing construction or demolition, when required.

Your construction project must comply with the locally adopted building codes for several reasons:
1. For your personal safety and that of your customers visiting your business.
2. To ensure the economic well-being of the community by reducing potential spread of fire and disease.
3. For the conservation of energy.

HOW DO I APPLY FOR A BUILDING PERMIT?
The ArlingtonPermits.com website is your online platform to apply and track the status of your permits, licenses and registrations for the City of Arlington. Alternatively, you may bring in your permit application to the One Start Development Center for processing.

Building permits may be applied for by the property owner or by an agent (contractor, engineer, architect, or tenant) on behalf of the owner.  If your contractor is applying, be sure to ask them to include your contact information on the application, such as your email address.  This will ensure that you are kept informed by email updates throughout the plan review and inspection process. Please note, when your permit is approved for issue, only a contractor registered with the City of Arlington may pick up the permit and plans. 

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO APPLY FOR A BUILDING PERMIT?
Commercial Building Permit fees are based on the value of the project.  You can access the building permit fee calculator to estimate the cost of your permit here.  Customers only need to enter the estimated construction value and the calculator will generate a fee estimate. 

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET MY BUILDING PLANS APPROVED?
Depending on the type of permit, the review time will vary.  The Plan Review Times can be found here.  If you are new to this process, we recommend you make an appointment with city staff to go over your submittal documentation. This will ensure your plans are accurate and ready for review. Your building permit will be granted once your plans meet city building codes. If there are problems with your submittal, your dedicated project manager will provide you with a list of deficiencies that will have to be addressed prior to getting your building permit approved. Staff will help you by performing timely reviews.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I RECEIVE MY BUILDING PERMIT?
Once your contractor picks up an issued permit and city stamped plans, construction can begin. If you have a contractor, they will need to register with the city at the One Start Center before they can obtain a permit, if they have not already done so. The general contractor will be responsible for scheduling required inspections. During the inspection process, knowledgeable staff can assist both the property owner and/or contractor on completing their projects in accordance with City of Arlington building codes. Inspectors work closely with other regulatory bodies in the city, such as the Fire Marshal’s Office and Health Services, to ensure all applicable local regulations are followed.

ARE THERE ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS TO OPEN/EXPAND A COMMERCIAL BUSINESS? 
Back Flow Assembly
Back flow prevention assemblies are required at all commercial facilities, irrigation systems, and construction meters.  The purpose of the back flow prevention assembly is to protect the public water supply and also to protect the customers and employees inside of the business.  Reduce Pressure Zone (RPZ) Back Flow Assembly are required on the incoming water line to any commercial facility.  RPZ’s are required to be installed at carbonated beverage machine and any other point-of-use application regarded as a high health hazard.

ADA Compliance
Most buildings are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Texas Architectural Barriers Act, which is the State of Texas’ version of the ADA.  New buildings and parking areas must be fully compliant with accessibility design standards.  For existing buildings, the level of compliance often depends on the scope of work being performed.  On any job that has a construction value that exceeds $50,000, the project must be registered with the State of Texas through Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), and the accessibility plan review and inspections are performed by a Registered Accessibility Specialist hired by the owner, architect, or general contractor.  The project number provided by TDLR must be included on the building permit application.

Fire Department Requirements
Fire Permit requirements vary based upon the business type and the business operation. 
It is beneficial for applicants to be very detailed when describing your business and the operations inside the business.  By doing so, the plans examiner can accurately review your business plans and practices and let you know what Fire Department requirements will be required.

Fire Permits must be applied for by a licensed contractor, and inspections for fire permits must be scheduled by the contractor doing the work.  Examples of fire permits are fire alarm, fire sprinkler system, kitchen hood suppression systems, special extinguishing systems and access control systems.  The contractor’s plans must be turned in and approved prior to work being done.  Plans can be turned in for review at the One Start Center.  After plans have been approved and work is completed, an inspection can be scheduled.  Typically, inspections can be scheduled within three days of the call-in request.

Before a business can move into a commercial space, a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) must be obtained and a life safety and fire inspection must be passed.  If you are leasing a move-in ready unit, you may apply for this before moving in the space. If you are remodeling the space and have an active building permit, you can apply for the CO before your final inspection, and the CO and building permit can be complete at the same time.  Inspections can typically be requested and scheduled up to the day before the inspection is needed.  

HOW DO I SCHEDULE INSPECTIONS?
There are two ways to schedule your inspections: 
1) online using the permit and inspection website, ArlingtonPermits.com
2) calling the 24-hour Inspection Request Line at (817) 261-8817.

If an inspection is requested by 7a.m., the inspection will be scheduled the next business day. Please remember, the inspection line is only for inspection requests. For cancellations or any other inspection concerns, please call the One Start Center. 

HOW DO I FIND A QUALIFIED ARCHITECT, ENGINEER, OR CONTRACTOR?
The city cannot recommend an architect, engineer or contractor; however, it is always suggested to receive at least three written quotes.  

HOW DO I GET CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY?
The Certificate of Occupancy (CO) ensures that your building and proposed use of the building/land complies with all regulations of the City of Arlington, including laws and ordinances. 

A building or tenant space may not be occupied, and the business may not be operated, until the CO is issued.  The applicant will need to process the application in person at the One Start Development Center. Building and Fire Inspections are required. Gas and/or electric services will not be released until all the appropriate departments have approved the CO application.  The Certificate of Occupancy is emailed to the listed responsible person once all necessary inspections are complete. 

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T GET A BUILDING PERMIT?
Permits protect the property/business owner and the general public.  If construction has started prior to the issuance of a building permit, costly repairs may be required to gain compliance and ensure your property is safe.  Removal of work that does not comply with the City of Arlington building codes and/or other applicable laws may be required.  In addition, if you receive a Stop Work Order for building without a permit, your permit fees may be doubled. The property owner is ultimately responsible for the work performed on his/her property. 

If a property is purchased and work was done without permitting, the new owner inherits the responsibility to permit the work.