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Department of Buildings

In observance of the Emancipation Day holiday, DOB will be closed on Tuesday, April 16, 2024; no construction will be allowed on this day without an after-hours permit. You may report illegal construction by submitting an Illegal Construction Inspection Request Form during normal business hours or by calling 311.

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Report Illegal Construction

Report Illegal Construction conducted in the District of Columbia

Any construction in the District of Columbia without required building permits is illegal. Illegal construction is a public danger; it can hurt people and property.

If you see illegal construction activity in the District of Columbia, please report it by submitting an Illegal Construction Inspection Request Form or call 311. Give the address and describe the illegal construction, and DOB will schedule an inspection to investigate.

Report Illegal Construction

Legal Construction Hours

Construction in the District of Columbia is allowed Monday through Saturday from 7 am to 7 pm without any special permits. Customers must apply for an afterhours permit to work beyond these legal construction hours. If you believe work is being done after legal hours without a permit, please report it to DOB. A full list of no construction holidays can be found here.

What Work Requires a Permit?

Generally, the following are types of work require building permits:

  • New construction
  • Additions
  • Demolition
  • Construction of retaining walls, decks, fences, sheds, garages, and vaults
  • Erection of signs and awnings

You need a public space permit for the following:

  • Dumpsters in public space
  • Sidewalk construction and repair
  • Flag poles, planter boxes, retaining walls and fences in public space

Please note that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) issues public space permits.

You need a raze permit for demolition of buildings and structures. To raze structures larger than 500 square feet, you must show a certificate of insurance for $500,000 in coverage.

The following work requires a water or sewer excavation permit:

  • Water or sewer pipe installation
  • Connections to water and sewer mains in the street
  • Excavation for water meters and meter vaults in public space

Only licensed DC contractors within the specific trade may apply for these permits.

The following work requires a supplemental systems installation permit:

  • Air conditioning installation
  • Refrigeration system installation
  • Plumbing fixture installation
  • Electrical installation
  • Gas appliance installation

Only licensed DC contractors within the specific trade may apply for these permits.

For a complete understanding of what type of work requires a permit, please visit the How to Get a Permit webpage.

Penalties and Stop Work Orders

There is a $2000 fine per infraction for:

  • Work without a permit
  • Work outside the scope of a permit
  • Work before 7am or after 7pm Monday through Saturday or any time on Sunday, and on holidays.

If you break these laws again, you may be fined up to $4,000 per infraction.

DOB will not release the Stop Work Order until you pay the permit fee.

Stop Work Order Appeal Process

Under Title 12A, DC Municipal Regulations § 114.11, you have the right to appeal the Stop Work Order on your property. To exercise this right, you must complete and file this form within 15 calendar days after posting of the Stop Work Order. You may hand-deliver or mail your appeal to the Reviewing Official:

Chief Building Official
Department of Buildings
Office of Construction and Building Standards
1100 4th Street SW
Washington DC 20024

Within ten (10) working days of the Reviewing Official’s receipt of your Appeal Form, the Reviewing Official shall affirm, modify, or reverse the Stop Work Order. If the Reviewing Official denies your appeal or takes no action within  ten (10) working days, you may appeal to the DC Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). You may deliver or mail your written request for a hearing to:

Office of Administrative Hearings
One Judiciary Square
441 4th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001-2714
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