Monday, September 16, 2019

Solar Panels – What You Need to Know

If you are looking to create a more energy-efficient space, than you may be considering installing solar panels.

Solar panels generate electricity and are usually installed on the roof. Only in rare cases, solar panels are installed on the ground. The City of Southlake requires permits from both planning and building inspections before any solar panels are installed.

There are many reasons homeowners and business owners have solar panels installed, the most common reason is to improve the environment and reduce the electric bill.  However, getting solar panels installed is not a turnkey process.

To get started, you must do the following:

  1. First, the applicant can select a contractor to install solar panels. Just be sure they are registered with the city before they install! See our tips on selecting a contractor.
  2. Next, the applicant must apply for a Specific Use Permit through Planning and Development Services. The applicant will have to go through the development process by attending a SPIN Town Hall Forum (which is optional), a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, and two City Council meetings. It is required through Southlake’s zoning ordinance that an applicant receives approval from City Council. The development process allows an opportunity for surrounding neighbors to understand what is being constructed or installed near their property.
  3. If the Specific Use Permit is approved by City Council, the applicant (or contractor for the project) will need to apply for and obtain an electrical permit from our Building Inspections division. Once the permit is obtained, solar panel installation can commence. After installation is completed, a Southlake building inspector will inspect that the solar panel was properly installed for building safety purposes. Undergoing the development process and obtaining the necessary permits ensures that the solar panel is designed for building safety and will be properly installed.

All construction must begin within six months of obtaining these permits. If you have any further questions about solar panels, please the Planning and Development website. For information on applications, fees and submittal schedules, click here.

Residential Building Permits 101

A new year comes with new home renovations. As we prepare our customized projects for the spring reveal, it’s important to know whether or not you need a permit.

The general purpose of a permit is to guarantee that a permanent record of the work performed is documented.  A permit also ensures that inspections are completed to reinforce the building/project is up to code. The code shows that the structure is safe from failure, fire and electrical damages.

So, what do you need a permit for? Well, that depends; most permits are mandatory on any remodels or updates that require a licensed trade such as plumbing or electrical work and anything that involves moving walls or has a structural component. Common permits are: swimming pool – installs, builds or fillings, construction of a building such as carports, patio covers and gazebos and foundation repair. Some items you may not know whether or not you need a permit for include replacing and adding water heaters, irrigation systems and septic to system hook up to City sewer.

Once you have determined whether or not you need a permit, you can fill out an online application on the City’s website or visit the Building Inspections Department at Town Hall.  Common information such as the address, scope work and a plan of what you doing as well as the information of the licensed contractor you will hire to do the job is required. This information must be known before you apply for a permit.  With the correct information and completed forms, the full process can take one or two weeks.

Please note, if you have a contractor that says you do not need a permit, error on the side of caution and please contact the City first.

If you are unsure about what to get a permit for just visit our website in the Residential Construction section here.

For a list of permit guidelines, click here. For questions regarding permits, please contact the Building Inspections Department at 817-748-8237 or 8236.