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Guide to Permitting

The Guide to Permitting for Land and Building Improvements was developed to assist homeowners as well as developers working in the City of Pittsburgh.  The permitting process is relatively the same for the applicant working on a one- or two-family home or on a larger residential, commercial, industrial or institutional project.  However, the permitting process for the one- or two-family home will typically occur in a shorter amount of time.

The City departments and other related agencies include:

  • Department of City Planning – Development Administration and Review (Zoning)
  • Bureau of Building Inspection (BBI)
  • Department of Public Works (DPW)
  • Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA)
  • Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD)

The chart below illustrates the importance of the Department of City Planning - Development Administration and Review (Zoning) as the first step in the process.  BBI permit applications begin after Zoning Office approval.  Permit applications at PWSA, ACHD, and DPW can begin once the Zoning Office reviews are underway. Click on the chart to view a larger chart with more permit details and departmental links.

Basic Permit Chart 


The Department of City Planning - Development Administration and Review (Zoning) is the starting point for all permit applications.  The development, whether it is a one- or two-family home or a much larger commercial development, must be reviewed and approved by the Zoning Office.  Required submittals include a Development Review Application and possibly Design Drawings.  The Zoning Staff reviews the application materials and if the development meets the requirements of the City of Pittsburgh Zoning Code, then the development receives Zoning Approval.

The Bureau of Building Inspection (BBI) issues Building permits and Occupancy permits. Permit applications at the BBI are made after the development has received Zoning Office approval.  BBI regulates the construction, demolition and occupancy of all buildings and structures within the City of Pittsburgh.

The Department of Public Works (DPW) operates in conjunction with several City departments to coordinate work within City Right-of Ways.  This can include excavation in a City street for utility work, construction of a building that encroaches into the City right-of-way, and other similar items.  DPW permit applications occur in multiple places throughout the Permitting Guidelines chart.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) provides sewer and water service to customers within the City of Pittsburgh.  (Some areas within the City of Pittsburgh are provided water service by other water authorities.)  For one- or two-family homes, an applicant will have to complete several permit forms at the PWSA Permit Counter.  For other types of development, the PWSA Water and Sewer Use Application is the first submittal.  Water and/or Sewer Tap-In Drawings may also be required depending on the size of the development.

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) reviews and approves the plumbing.  The Plumbing Division issues all plumbing permits.  A final inspection of the plumbing is required and must be completed prior to the issuance of a plumbing permit by ACHD. Other divisions of the ACHD, such as the Food Division and the Housing Division, may have their own permitting requirements for restaurants and various residential projects.

More detailed information on the available permits can be found on the website of each of the departments.  All departments can be contacted by phone to obtain general information or request data that cannot be found on the websites.


Many permit applications for construction or renovation of a one- or two-family home can be processed and approved within one day.  This usually requires that the applicant visit the various departments in person, complete the application forms, and pay any associated permit fees.  The link below provides additional information on the permitting process.

Permit Information for Homeowners


The permitting process for commercial, industrial, institutional, and larger residential developments requires that the Developer begin at the Department of City Planning - Development Administration and Review (Zoning).  The permit applications required at the other City departments will be dependant on the type of work.  Each department and agency uses separate permit forms and requires various types of drawings and supplemental materials.  The link below provides additional information on the permitting process.

Permit Information for Developers


The following link provides a list of standalone permits for specific items such as a fireworks permit or a parade license. The list contains links to the web pages on which the applications are available.

Miscellaneous Permits and Licenses List



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