How to Get Proper City Approval for a New Garage Build or Renovation

When you’re getting ready to kick off a new garage build or renovation, the paperwork certainly doesn’t top the list of the “most exciting steps” in the process.

However, taking the time to understand local zoning and permit requirements is essential to help your new garage build or renovation go smoothly. Taking thorough measurements, creating a complete project plan, and securing the right documentation and approvals will save everyone some headaches!

Here are four steps you can take to get proper city approval for your new garage build or renovation.

Step 1: Research

Approval processes can vary based on your unique project and where you live. For example, in Milwaukee, you’ll need to get a permit in order to demolish an old garage, build a new garage, or replace an existing garage. You will also want to look into permitting requirements for any changes to the entry of the driveway.

In the research process, you’ll find some of these regulations come directly from the State of Wisconsin, while others are specific to municipalities or even certain neighborhoods. The best way to find out your exact requirements for a new garage build is to call your local building inspector.

Step 2: Measure

When you reach out for approval for your garage project, you’ll want to be ready with key information to be sure your project design will meet your local requirements from the start. It’s a good idea to have certain measurements and numbers on hand.

  • The total square footage of your project
  • The total area of your property (or lot)
  • The planned setbacks and distance from your garage to surrounding features like houses, streets, alleyways, and lot lines

Luckily, Milwaukee does not require a certified survey of your property; only scope of work or plan for the garage is needed when you apply for your building permit. This includes drawings for your project, such as a floor plan and elevations of each side of the garage. Depending on the municipality you reside in, colored drawings are required, and you must show all windows, siding, doors, and garage door in the correct location with dimensions. That said, garage height is a dimension that must be included on all plans, no matter where you live.

From there, a Plan Examiner will review your documents to ensure that the project meets the state building code, as well as local building and zoning codes.

Step 3: Plan your Timeline

Be sure to keep an eye out for details on the turnaround time for obtaining approval or ask about it when you submit your material. Sometimes, there are several steps to this process. Keep in mind reviews can take time!

You’ll want to factor your processing time for permits and approvals into the overall project timeline, which could be up to 2-3 months to process in Milwaukee.

Step 4: If You Don’t Know, Ask!

Milwaukee offers plenty of detailed resources to answer your questions through the Department of Neighborhood Services. The offices are open every day but Wednesday, and you can also find excellent information on their website. Their latest hours, email and telephone contact information and even certain project requirements are online and ready to go, 24/7.

Here are some additional resources we’d recommend for getting started!

  • Does It Need a Permit?: This handy directory from the City of Milwaukee is quick and easy and includes the key contact information for many types of projects.
  • Garages (Accessory to One- and Two-Family Homes) Guide: This step-by-step guide breaks out exactly what you need to do to acquire a permit from the Milwaukee Permit and Development Center. Remember, the best resources for permit paperwork come directly from the city or the State of Wisconsin!

As your local garage expert, J.D. Griffiths is here to share our expertise with you! We do all the heavy lifting from start to finish to help get your garage build or remodel off the ground. Unless your municipality requires a certified survey of your property, that’s the only aspect you’re on the line to provide. But chances are if you live in Milwaukee, you likely don’t need to.

Reach out today: we’re happy to help answer your questions and work with you to take every step to make your garage dream a reality.