Building and Fire Services

Frequently Asked Questions
Keep in mind:

All the information on our web page is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal or other professional advice. You should not rely on this information in buying real estate or hiring a contractor without first contacting an attorney.

Zoning is the vehicle by which municipalities regulate the use of land within its boundaries. We use the Land Use Law and zoning maps in reviewing applications we receive. The Land Use Law lists the uses that are permitted in various zoning districts set up by the Town Board. The zoning map outlines where the particular zoning districts are. Copies of the Land Use Law and the zoning map are available at the Town Clerk's Office in Town Hall. The Land Use Law (Chapter 190 of the Code of the Town of Colonie ) is available on a link from the Town's home page (not the Building Department home page). Before you start your project, let us know what you're doing and where you want to do it and we can let you know if you're in compliance with our Land Use Law. If you are not, we can let you know what your options are.

New York State law mandates when a permit is required. It's easier to tell you when you don't need a permit. Repair work; other than structural, electrical, plumbing do not require a permit. For example, if you are replacing the shingles on your roof, but not the plywood or rafters, a permit is not required. The replacement of siding is the same. Replacement windows, as long as the sizes are the same, do not require a permit. Storage sheds, even prefabricated ones, require a building permit. A building and zoning permit is required for a change in tenant of a commercial space, even if no construction is being performed. A residential change of tenant does not require a building permit.


Building permits and Certificates of Occupancy will only be issued between the hours of 8 and 4.

A residential building permit application (one copy) must be completed. Two copies of the building plans must be submitted for all projects. If the project involves work, an electrical inspection application needs to be filled out. For the Commercial, Residential, and miscellaneous fee schedules, see the permit fee schedules at the Document Center. An architect's wet stamp is required on the building plans for any home or if the project costs over $20,000. Also for residential construction an architect's stamp is required for all additions over 300 square feet and any 2-story addition.

The Land Use Law permits a "customary home occupation" as long as:

  1. There are no outside employees.
  2. No more than 15% of the residence is utilized.
  3. No deliveries or additional traffic results.
  4. No exterior signage exists on the property.
  5. There is no external impact to the neighborhood.

A good rule of thumb; if your neighborhood is impacted by your home business, it is probably not OK.

12 months for a residential permit, 24 months for a commercial permit.

A building and zoning permit is required by the Town Land Use Law. We inspect the tenant space to verify that it is still in compliance with the Land Use Law and the New York State Building Code and that no changes have been made that would interfere with safe exiting or become a fire hazard. We then issue a Certificate of Occupancy for the new tenant. Insurance carriers and banks are increasingly requiring Certificate of Occupancy for tenants.

No. However if you are installing an inground pool or a pool less than 48" above grade, then an enclosure, normally a fence, is required by the Building Code.

In addition, we suggest you identify your property line and also be mindful of extending fences such that it does not obstruct traffic view. The maximum height for fences in New York State is 10 feet.

All generators, both Residential and Commercial require a building permit. All building permit applications require the submission of a site plan. Permit cost is based on the cost of construction. See residential and commercial fee schedules.

In any case, a third party electrical inspection is required by one of the certified agencies listed here prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Compliance.

Permanent home standby generators have become increasingly popular in recent years due to the harsh weather experienced in the great northeast. Building permits are required for these installations. See here for additional information.

Garage sales are intended to be a means for homeowners or renters to rid themselves of unneeded household items. The Land Use Law limits garage sales to no more than three per 12-month period. However, when a homeowner or renter imports items for sale, then it is a violation of our zoning law, since it is the same as running a business from a residence. Refer to the Land Use Law for additional regulations. New York State also regulated garage sales according to the number and amount of sales before sales tax has to be collected. Any questions regarding collecting of sales tax should be referred to the New York State Tax Department.

You must fill out a building and zoning permit application. It must be accompanied by 2 sets of scaled drawings showing how the structure is to be built. Pools obviously are exempt from the requirement of scaled drawings. Sheds, if pre-built, can be accompanied by the manufacturer's literature illustrating the construction. We also need 2 plot plans of the property lines and the dwelling. If you do not have a plot plan or survey of your property we may be able to help you. If you or the previous homeowner has applied for a building permit within the last 30 years, we may have a plot plan or survey of your property in our files.

You can obtain a survey by submitting a FOIL request.

All solar panels both Residential and Commercial and roof mounted and ground mounted require a building permit as of May 16, 2016. All ground mounted solar panels require the submission of a site plan.

In any case, a third party electrical inspection is required by one of the certified agencies listed here prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Compliance.

For a list of approved electrical inspectors click here.


Public Operations Center
Second Floor
347 Old Niskayuna Road
Latham, NY 12110-2286