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ABCs of Certificate of Occupancy

What is a CO? It is a document issued by City Department of Building Official that serves as a proof that the structure built completed all the building work and suitable for occupation.

Why? Everyone wants to know the building structure they're purchasing is safe to occupy. That's why some municipalities go a step beyond the standard inspection and require a special permit, to ensure the building structures in their area meet safety codes.

Who needs it? It must be obtained before a commercial building or an individual lease space within a commercial building may be occupied, or if changes to an existing occupancy classification are made. It is not required for single-family residences, duplexes, and townhouses less than four stories, except for live-work units.

When? Normally, issued at the time of construction or when a remodel or change of use occurs.

How to use it? The original certificate must be posted in a clear, visible place on the premises.

Who can apply? A certificate will only be issued to the original applicant or the applicant's designated agent along with a letter on company letterhead stating that the agent can pick up the certificate. The letter must include the project number, the address, the name of the designated agents, and the name and signature of the applicant.

What will you need? Business must be set up with power for proposed use for an existing building. No active or inactive permits from another sections.

  • Certificate of Occupancy application (form CE-1045) and deed restriction declaration form 

  • Lease agreement, if applicable

  • For apartments, condominiums and townhouses: Current site map of all the buildings and Smoke alarm letter

Validity? A Certificate of Occupancy remains valid unless there is an increase/decrease of square footage, occupant load, and/or change of occupancy use. A new certificate is required after these types of changes.

Is it necessary? Yes, your lender will need it to close on your loan. Some lenders may close with a temporary CO but will have many conditions attached to the approval. Without a valid CO, your occupancy is illegal as it can be classified as an unauthorized structure by the authorities.

Who pays for the CO inspection? Typically, sellers bear the cost of the certificate of occupancy inspection process.

Fees? Ranges from $83 to $475.

Fee structure for permitting process
Fees for obtaining certificate of occupancy.

More information can be obtained at your city permitting center. Paragon Plans can assist you create a sitemap and get your permits.


#ParagonPlans #OccupancyCertificate #CityofHoustonPermits #HoustonPermittingCenter

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