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Permanent vs. Semi-Permanent Structures: How to Navigate Permits for Any Building Type

When setting up any type of building permit, there are many different elements you may need to navigate. Many people assume that a semi-permanent structure, such as a mobile home, factory-built building, manufactured building, manufactured home, single-wide, double-wide, or trailer, are governed by the same building codes as permanent structures. However, in the State of Florida, that’s not always the case.  

That’s why, before beginning any construction project, it’s essential to understand the type of permits required for your project and gather the necessary documentation, surveys, and information to submit to county and city planners (depending on the project type). The Jacksonville construction law attorneys with Cotney Construction Law will help you understand the permitting process for your specific project, as well as any considerations to take when unexpected changes may warrant the need for additional permits. 

Below, one of our Jacksonville construction attorneys shares a few key differences in the permitting process in permanent and semi-permanent structures.

Related: 4 Types of Commercial Building Permits

Florida Regulation Background

Florida Statute Chapter 553 provides Building Construction Standards which govern both Manufactured Buildings (Fla. Sta. §§ 553.35-553.42) and the Florida Building Code (Fla. Sta. §§ 553.70-553.898). The Florida Manufactured Building Act of 1979 and the building code in section 553.355 state: 

“The Florida Building Code and the Florida Fire Prevention and Lifesafety Codes shall be the minimum construction requirements governing the manufacture, design, construction, erection, alteration, modification, repair, and demolition of manufactured buildings.”

This means that the building safety codes required of buildings are also required of semi-permanent structures. However, it’s important to note that the law also marks a difference between mobile homes (specifically in a mobile home park) and manufactured structures. In fact, the subsequent section of this law states, “this part does not apply to mobile homes.” 

So, what counts as a mobile home? Florida Statute Chapter 723 Mobile Home Park Tenancies, Section 723.003 defines a “mobile home” as:

“… a residential structure, transportable in one or more sections, which is 8 body feet or more in width, over 35 body feet in length with the hitch, built on an integral chassis, designed to be used as a dwelling when connected to the required utilities, and not originally sold as a recreational vehicle, and includes the plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and electrical systems contained therein.”

Related: Cutting Through the Red Tape of Project Permitting

Department of Highway Safety Regulations

Strangely enough, there are some regulations that come from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Division that you may need to be mindful of when building a semi-permanent structure like a mobile home. 

Florida Administrative Code provides the Rules of Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Division of Motor Vehicles in Chapters 15C-1 and 15C-2. Chapter 15C-1 provides General Rules regarding the installation of mobile homes and generally refers back to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. However, there are codes from this department regarding the remodeling or repair of mobile homes, which is especially important when doing any type of add-on in a mobile home. The Mobile Home Repair and Remodeling Code is also known as 15-C-2.0081. Although quite brief, this code reiterates the requirements set forth in Fla. Sta. § 320.822. 

The code states:

“These guidelines shall be used to assure safe and livable housing and shall not be more stringent than the standard to which the home was originally constructed.

(1) Structure.

(a) Additions, including, but not limited to add-a-rooms, roof-overs and porches shall be free standing and self-supporting with only the flashing attached to the main unit unless the added unit has been designed to be married to the existing unit. All additions shall be constructed in compliance with State and locally adopted building codes.

(b) Anchoring of additions shall be in compliance with requirements for similar type construction.

(c) Repair or remodeling of a mobile/manufactured home shall require the use of material and design equivalent to the original construction. Structure shall include, but not be limited to, roof system, walls, floor system, windows and exterior doors of the mobile/manufactured home.

(2) Electrical repair and replacements shall require the use of material and design equivalent to the original construction.

(3) Plumbing repairs and replacements shall require the use of material and design equivalent to the original construction.”

Florida Building Code Regulations

Now that we have defined the differences in who governs different types of buildings, it should be noted that there are different building codes that may require different types of permits for each building type. 

For example, Florida Building Code R322.1.9 establishes jurisdiction over the installation of manufactured homes and that the installation of manufactured homes in flood hazard areas is subject to the applicable provisions of the local floodplain management ordinance. Further, in the State of Florida, semi-permanent structures must be able to withstand hurricane-force winds up to a specified wind-speed in each area. This is similar to the requirements of hurricane-force wind requirements in building a permanent structure. One of our Jacksonville construction attorneys will be able to help you understand all Florida building code regulations for your specific building type. 

Related: Who Can Secure a Building Permit?

How to Apply for a Permit for Any Type of Building

So, which projects require a permit? Ordinary minor repairs may be made with the approval of the Building Official without a permit, provided that such repairs shall not violate any of the provisions of the Florida Building Code. However, larger projects will require a permit as specified by Jacksonville municipal requirements

A licensed contractor can file for a building permit for both semi-permanent and permanent structures with written permission of the property owner. You may also be required to submit permit valuations, environmental surveys, and other supporting documents. In order to avoid disputes regarding building permits, a Jacksonville construction dispute lawyer will review all documentation and advise you on what else you may need. Further, if you are preparing to build any type of structure, an attorney from one of the Jacksonville construction law firms like Cotney Construction Law will walk you through every step of the way.

If you would like to speak with one of our Jacksonville construction law attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.