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by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
Building a house in Jamaica can be a simple task with few setbacks or an overwhelming endeavour, it all boils down to how well you prepare beforehand.
Yes, you will need permits and approval from various agencies when building for residential or commercial use in Jamaica. So before you start building let's look at them.
The building permit is issued by the local municipal corporation also known locally as the Parish Council. Approval is needed from this government organisation before you erect, modify, extend, demolish, add, alter, repair or renovate any structure, whether it is temporary or permanent.
This includes trailers, wooden structures or farmhouses, not just concrete ones. You must also apply if you change the use of the building from commercial to residential or vice versa.
To receive the approval of the municipal corporation, your design must meet the standards of the Jamaica Building Code standards. If your building or addition is greater than 300 metres squared, you must solicit the assistance and stamp of approval of a registered architect or engineer.
If your building is less than this a licensed draughtsman can be used.
You will need:
There may be isolated cases where other documents are needed so be prepared to submit supporting documents where necessary.
How many copies of my plan should I submit?
It will take approximately eight (8) weeks for residential single-family buildings to be approved. Other buildings may take longer to be approved. Also, when dealing with multiple departments, it may affect the timeline in which you receive approval.
After you have received approval to build, you should commence building within 6 months or your permit will expire. This will result in you needing to revalidate your permit and pay the fee which is 10% of the original costs.
This can only be done 4 times over a two-year period. After two years have lapsed if you still have not commenced building you will need to reapply and repay to obtain a new permit.
The permits for temporary buildings must be renewed yearly.
You are required by law to leave no less than 10 feet of space between the road and any building.
After your plans have been approved, you must collect your permits. If you are unable to collect them for whatever reason, you will need to give the person collecting them on your behalf a letter of authorisation. This should be stamped and signed by a Justice of the Peace of notary public.
If your application gets refused, you will be sent a letter from the Municipal Corporation outlining the reason for the refusal and the steps you can take to appeal the refusal. If you are unsuccessful with your appeal you should receive no more than 50% of the total fees paid to the Municipal Corporation.
Yes, approvals can be amended if necessary. For this to happen, you will need to return the building permit and the stamped plans to the Parish Council along with your new plans to receive approval. However, this comes with additional fees. For residential plans, it will cost an extra $3,500 and commercial building plans will cost $9,750.
Obtaining the necessary documents and approvals before you begin building or as necessary is highly recommended. If you are found to be building without a permit, you will be issued a stop notice and no work should resume until all the necessary steps are carried out for approval.
A plan must be submitted and approved and a permit issued before you continue building. If you begin building before submitting the plans then the fees will be doubled.
If a stop notice is issued and you continue to work it will result in you being taken to court and fined up to JMD 1,000,000. If the development continues beyond that, it will attract a fine of JMD 5,000 per day and may result in the confiscation of your property. If the latter occurs, ownership of your property will be given to the Crown.
A copy of the approved documents should be on-site at all times. It is important to contact the necessary departments and agencies to conduct inspections during construction to avoid issues in the long run.
You will also need an environmental permit from the National Environment and Planning Agency if you are building within the territory of Jamaica, whether on land or out at sea. This is to prevent impositions and damage to the environment and ecosystem of Jamaica from physical development.
The penalties for working without or in breach of an Environmental licence are:
You must complete the application and Project Information Form and submit them to NEPA. The information on the documents necessary can be obtained from the NEPA offices or via call:
NEPA Contact Information: +1 (876) 754-7540
I hope this helps you in the building process and that all goes well with your project!
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Do You Need A Permit To Build A House In Jamaica | Written: November 28, 2022