Commercial Building Permits

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When is a commercial building permit required?

A commercial building permit is generally required when changes or alterations are made to a commercial and/or multi-family building or when any new construction is undertaken.

  • Electrical, mechanical and plumbing work also require permits.
  • A permit may also be required to turn utilities back on after a fire.

All projects, whether they need a permit or not, must comply with the adopted building codes and regulations and the Hilton Head Island Municipal Code.

Commercial Building Permit Process

Step 1. Submit Application for Permit

Commercial Building Permit Application

Step 2. Plan Review

  1. Depending on your proposed project, plans will be reviewed by various divisions.
    • Types of reviews include planning and zoning, structural and fire.
    • The assigned reviewers check to see that your application is in compliance with the specific code or regulations. If the reviewer needs additional information you will be contacted with identified items required.
  2. Revise Plans for Corrections Needed
    • Complete and timely responses will speed up the re-review of the project.
    • If the revisions are complete, the reviewer will sign off and the project will move on in the process (see step 3).
    • If the reviewer needs additional information or has identified additional corrections they will request this information from you (return to steps 2 and 2a).

Step 3. Plans Approved, Permit Issued

  1. When all required reviews are approved, your permit will be in pre-issue status and you will be notified of your final fee total.
  2. After the balance is paid the plans submitter will be notified that the approved plans and permit are available for pick up.

Step 4. Inspections

  1. When you pick up your permit, you will receive an inspection card listing all of the inspections you will need during construction.
  2. Inspections can be scheduled online or by calling 843-341-4757.

Step 5. Certificate of Occupancy

After passing all inspections and submitting any requested final paperwork, you will receive a Certificate of Occupancy for new construction or a "Final" for other construction.

View our Community Development Application Process Table

What's Needed? (Submittal Requirements)

Site Plan Submittal

  • Two sets of site plans and building elevations for commercial construction
  • A tree survey may be required, depending on extent of construction and location of site
  • Drawings must be drawn to scale indicating:
    • Setback, buffer and height requirements of the Land Management Ordinance (LMO)
    • All new construction including fences with boundaries of adjoining properties
    • Existing structures, if applicable
    • Spot grades or topographic lines to establish pre-construction grade
    • Total square footage of parcel and total square footage of impervious and pervious land
    • Mean Sea Level (MSL) height of first habitable floor
    • Floor to Floor height or MSL or each additional floor
    • Dimension top of roof and any roof feature
    • Required Base Flood Elevation if construction is in a flood hazard zone

Building Plan Submittal

  • Two sets of complete building plans and specifications including, properly sealed by an SC registered architect or engineer (Per SC law, for building size, height or occupancy)
  • One digital copy of complete building plans and specifications
  • Drawings must indicate:
    • Footings/Foundation plans and fasteners. Piers and pilings require structural calculations from an engineer.
    • Floor framing plan with structural calculations if requested
    • Roof framing plan
    • Energy calculations if requested
    • Septic tank permit, if applicable
    • V zone certification, if applicable
    • Elevations

Reminder:  Checklists are required to be submitted with all building applications. The checklists assist in a speedy submittal process. Incomplete or incorrect checklists will result in applications being turned away.

Codes, Design Requirements, Setbacks

Design Requirements

  • Wind design 140mph ultimate, ASCE 7-16
  • Seismic design D0
  • Flood design ASCE 24-14


Setbacks are subject to Planning Division requirements based on the zoning district it is located.


Building permit fees are based on a comparison of the declared cost of construction and the minimum cost of construction as outlined by the International Code Council.

  • The fee is calculated using the higher of the two compared figures.

Plan Review Fee

A Plan Review Fee is assessed when the value construction exceeds $1,000 and a plan is required to be submitted.

  • The fee is 75 percent of the permit fee

New Construction

Valuation Rate
$500 - 2,000 $35
$2,001 - 3,000 $38.50
$3,001 - 50,000 $38.50 plus $4.50 for each additional $1,000, or fraction of, up to $50,000
$50,001 and over $250 plus $4 for each additional $1,000, or fraction of, construction value

Miscellaneous Construction, Repairs, Renovations, or Additions

Valuation Rate
$0 - 1,000 $35
$1,001 - 2,000 $70
$2,001 - 3,000 $77
$3,001 - 50,000 $77 plus $9 for each additional $1,000, or fraction of, up to $50,000
$50,001 and over $500 plus $4 for each additional $1,000, or fraction of, construction value

Permit Expiration

  • A permit expires if work authorized is not started within six months of the date of issue or if work is abandoned or suspended for a period of six months.
  • If an extension is required, submit your request in writing indicating the reason for the delay in completion of the project.
  • Keep in mind that a structure cannot be occupied until a Certificate of Occupancy is issued for a new structure.


Contact the Community Development Information Center at or 843-341-4757