A certificate of occupancy (or CO) is used to confirm that a new building has been inspected, and is ready for use by the intended occupants. The document is issued by a local government agency or most often, the building department. It certifies that the building is in compliance with all local laws and building codes.
Steps to Getting a Certificate of Occupancy
The certificate of occupancy is the last step in the process of building or remodeling.
- A building permit is taken out before work begins, to demonstrate that the work planned will follow local laws and building codes.
- One or more building inspections will take place during the project, until the CO is issued. There can be separate inspections for plumbing, electrical and HVAC, depending on the scope of the construction project.
- A final inspection is needed to confirm that all work is completed.
- Only then will a certificate of occupancy be issued.
This process provides homeowners who have little/no knowledge of building codes, with the assurance their new home is safe to occupy. It’s also important because some home insurance policies will not pay claims for damage to a property that has not been approved for occupancy.
Photo credit goes to the state of Oregon, for the sample certificate of occupancy. On this form, the following information is required:
- Building permit number.
- Address of the structure.
- Name and address of the owner of the property.
- Description of the work
- Statement that the residence has been inspected, with reference to which code.
- Name of the building official performing the inspection.
- Any special conditions of the building permit.
- License and contact information for the contractors listed.