City of Florence Building Department - Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a maintenance checklist for existing residential structures/properties?

Yes.  Please see the Self Inspection Checklist

Am I within the jurisdiction of the City of Florence Building Department?

The Building Department's area of jurisdiction, in accordance with Section 11-40-10 of the Code of Alabama, includes the corporate limits and its Police Jurisdiction which extends 3 miles beyond the corporate limits of Florence, with some exceptions.  The Tennessee River serves as the boundary on the east and south sides of the City. Another exception would be the jurisdiction belonging to St. Florian.

Who assigns my street address?

The Building Department assigns street addresses within the City of Florence.  911 assigns addresses outside the city.

How is my property zoned?

The Building or Planning Departments can determine how your property is zoned. The official zoning map is maintained by and is located in the Planning Department.  The Building Department should be consulted concerning the Zoning Ordinance's Chart of Permitted Uses.

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Gary Williamson
Building Official

Building Department
Municipal Building Room 216
110 West College Street
Florence, AL 35630

Phone: (256) 760-6325
Fax: (256) 740-4651

When is a building permit required?

Building permits are required not only for new construction, additions and renovations, but also for the demolition or moving of structures, electrical changeovers, electrical upgrades, construction of parking lots, garages, carports, swimming pools, most storage buildings, and signs. When in doubt about whether a permit is required for a specific project, please contact the Building Department.

Can I do the work myself?

Any property owner may build his own building on his own land, provided: such building is for his own use; he has the proper building permit; he obtains inspections and complies with the building standards set forth in the building code. Only one (1) permit for residential construction shall be issued to an individual building his own residential dwelling during a calendar year.  An owner may not do his own gas and electrical work, unless he is properly licensed.

Due to the hazardous nature of gas, the City of Florence, as well as the State of Alabama, requires that all gas work be done by a certified gas contractor.  Gas work in the city limits requires city and state licenses.  Gas work done in the police jurisdiction requires a state license only.

Any electrical wiring, equipment or apparatus installed within the city must be done by a qualified licensed electrician.  Persons doing any wiring in their own home must first past the qualification test set up by the Electrical Inspector.

How is a permit obtained, and how long does the process take?

Permit applications may be picked up in the Building Department, or if requested, received by fax or mail. Some types of permits can be issued at the time the application is filed.  Other types require review of detailed drawings, which must be submitted and approved; these include, new residential construction (excluding most accessory structures), commercial and industrial jobs, and signs. New residential construction drawings can usually be reviewed, and a permit issued within two or three working days. 

In addition to Building Department review, drawings for commercial and industrial jobs are also examined by other departments.   Depending upon the complexity of the drawings, a permit for a commercial/industrial job can normally be issued within ten to fifteen working days.

How long is a permit valid?

The work for which a  permit has been issued must be started within six months of the issue date. As long as work has started within the six month period and reasonable work progress is made on the job, the permit is valid.

What is the cost of a permit?

Permit fees for new residential construction are based on the square footage.  Permit fees for commercial and industrial jobs are based on the cost of construction.  Sign permits are based upon the valuation plus installation cost of signage. A contractor license fee is applied to permits, for work performed inside the City Limits.  See Building Department Fee Schedule for more information.

Why do I need a permit if the job is not inside the City Limits?

A permit is required within the three (3) mile police jurisdiction; however a City contractor's license or license fee is not required. State Licensing regulations still apply within the Police Jurisdiction.   Zoning regulations do not apply within the jurisdiction outside the city limits with the exception of property that has been "zoned" and designated as "extra-territorial", in accordance with Legislative Act No. 2135.

When are drawings required?

For commercial and industrial jobs, a minimum of two complete sets of drawings are required, along with two additional site plans including landscape drawings, plus an additional set of electrical drawings. Plans are examined by Owen Sewell of the Building Department, with the exception of landscape drawings which are reviewed by Kathy Austin.  Mr. Sewell also coordinates a review of the plans with various departments.                    

Are drawings required to obtain a sign permit?

In addition to a permit application, a drawing of all proposed signage is required.  A site plan is also required for ground supported signs.    Sign permits are issued separately from building permits.  For more information contact Chad Boughner (256) 760-6336 or

When is an inspection required?

Inspections are required on all slabs and footings, framing, electrical (rough-ins, temporaries and finals), first and second stage plumbing, and final plumbing, and gas.  For more information a handout is available in the Building Department.

How is an inspection obtained?

It is the contractor's responsibility to telephone the Building Department, and request an inspection. Depending upon the volume of inspection requests, an inspection called in during the morning can normally be made in the afternoon.  Inspections called in during the afternoon will normally be made the following week day morning.