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Building Inspection Services


BW-12 / Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act Updates

Changes in Flood Insurance

Contractors Change in Services for Town of Kiawah Island

If you have an open permit application or plan review in process with Charleston County, Charleston County will complete these active cases only.  Charleston County will not accept applications for the Town of Kiawah after June 30th, 2013.

Beginning Monday, July 1st, 2013 the Town of Kiawah Island will begin to provide 1) building inspections and permitting, 2) plan review, 3) contractor licensing and, 4) zoning permit applications at the Kiawah Island Municipal Center located at 21 Beachwalker Drive, Kiawah Island SC.

All new applications, plan review requests or inquiries should be directed to Bruce Spicher, Chief Building Official.  He can be reached via email at or by phone at 843-768-9166.   The hours of operation are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.  The requisite forms can be obtained on the Town website at under the Departments tab, listed as Building Services.

If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact the Town of Kiawah Island at 843-768-9166. 

On July 1, 2013, the following codes will be implemented:

2012 International Residential Code (with modifications)
2012 International Building Code (with modifications)
2012 International Fire Code (with modifications)
2012 International Plumbing Code
2012 International Fuel Gas Code (with modifications)
2012 International Mechanical Code
2011 National Electrical Code (with modifications)
The 2009 International Energy Code effective January 1, 2013 

The SC modifications can be found at:


Contact Information

Building Inspection Services Department
Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Service Building
4045 Bridge View Drive
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 202-6930
(843) 202-6936 (Fax)

Office Hours
8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Inspector Availability
7:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.
4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Programs & Plans:

Online Services, Forms & Fees:


Building Inspection Services & Permitting Ordinances:

  • Flood (1526)
  • Fee (1612, Amended by 1635 and Adopted on 6/15/10.) 
  • Building (1557)

Building Inspections
Building Plan Reviews
Building Code Enforcement
Construction-related Permits
Contractor Licensing


The Building Inspection Services Department assures compliance with the International Building, Residential, Plumbing, Mechanical, Fuel Gas, Fire, and Energy Conservation Codes; the National Electrical Code; and other construction-related federal, state, and local laws to preserve the safety, health and welfare of County residents.


Charleston County’s Building Inspection Services Department also provides building inspection services for the following municipalities:

  • Awendaw

  • Hollywood

  • Kiawah Island

  • Meggett

  • Ravenel

  • Rockville

  • Seabrook Island


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Department Responsibilities

dot Inspect property to ensure that building structures are maintained or constructed in accordance with standards, codes, regulations, ordinances, and construction requirements.
dot Issue permits for construction work   (See also Planning for Zoning Permit Information)
dot Provide pre-construction plan review services
dot Provide administrative support to the Construction Board of Adjustment and Appeal
dot Issue contractor licenses/registration.
dot Coordinate and maintain the Charleston Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan
dot Coordinate construction,  hazardous and environmental related educational programs and demonstration projects
dot Issue County contractor licenses/registration

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Important Information
dot Permit placards are required to be on all job sites for inspections, or reinspection fees may be imposed.
dot A copy of the approved plans is required to be on all job sites for inspections, or reinspection fees may be imposed.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need a permit if my project is under $1,000?
A: The homeowner does not need a permit for doing work under $1,000.00 if the work does not require an inspection and provided that homeowner is doing the actual work.  A Specialty contractor working for a homeowner would not need a permit for work under $1,000.00 if the work doesn’t require an inspection and the whole project only involves one trade; otherwise, permits are required for all trades and work no matter the value.
Q: How do I schedule an Inspection?
A: Call the Building Inspection Services Department at (843) 202-6930, request an inspection through the County’s web site (, or fax inspection requests to (843) 202-6936.  Inspections can be scheduled for the same day provided the inspection request is received by 11:00 a.m. and based on inspector location and daily work load.  You will need to provide your permit number, job location and type of inspection needed.  Please be sure all work has been completed before requesting an inspection.
Q: I have scheduled an inspection for today. When should I expect the inspector on the job site?
A: An inspector can usually determine the time of arrival within a few hours.  However, the public is encouraged to contact an inspector before 8:30 a.m., if an approximate time is needed.
Q: How will I know the results of my inspection?

The results of your inspection will be marked/signed approved on the permit placard or a non-compliance notice will be posted at the job site. You can also check on-line by using your established account on ( or through a general search by:


Step 1: Type “” for citizens access portal

Step 2.: Select Property Search

Step 3: Type in address Step 4: Press search button





As a homeowner, can I get the required permit(s) to work on my house without a contractor?




Yes, if you or your immediate family members are performing the work and if you will live in your home for at least two years after the work is completed.




Who can I employ to perform construction work on my property?




Other than the homeowner or his immediate family, only licensed contractors are permitted to work on your property.




Can a home owner secure a permit to make alterations on an existing structure?




Yes, if the home owner is qualified to do the work and resides in the home. However, each project must be approved by a Building Inspector before work can begin.




What should I do to have my property inspected for electrical and gas code compliance inspection?




First, obtain a gas or electrical safety permit from the Planning Department or Building Inspection Services.  Then, call the Building Inspection Services Department (843) 202-6930 and request an inspection. You may also request an inspection through the County’s web site (







How does one become a County-licensed Contractor?



Those who are licensed or registered by the State of South Carolina as a contactor are eligible to request County contractor licensure.  If you are not a South Carolina licensed contractor, contact PSI Exams or call 1-800-733-9267, ext. 278 for licensing exam information.



How long does a contractor’s license last?



A contractor’s license is valid for one year beginning February 1 or September 1 depending on the type of licnese and as long as your State required license remains in effect.



How do I obtain or renew my contractor’s license?



Mail a copy of your current South Carolina State license and the application/renewal form (located on the County’s web site) with appropriate fee to the Charleston County Building Inspection Services Department.  Once your license is received and processed, a receipt will be sent back to you as notification of application/renewal.  Renewals may be submitted through the County’s web site (



Can general contractors perform work such as electrical, plumbing or mechanical?



No.  There are difference qualification requirements for each trade, and various agencies in the State of South Carolina offer the necessary exams.  For more information, please contact the Contractor Licensing Technician at (843) 202-6931.



Why must decals be displayed?



Decals are displayed on contractor vehicles to identify which contractors are properly licensed or registered by Charleston County.

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Common Terms

Base Flood Elevation-- The elevation of an area in relation to the mean sea level expected to be reached during a flood. Based on historic data, these figures indicate which areas are most likely to be flooded.

CRS, Community Rating System --The measure of an area's compliance with federal guidelines governing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map)-- An official map of a community on which the Federal Insurance Administrator has delineated both the special flood hazard areas and the risk premium zones applicable to the community.

Flood Elevation Certificate-- A document describing the base flood elevation of a property. Flood Elevation Certificates are required before receiving framing or rough-in inspections in flood zones. They are available through any private land surveyor.

Permit-- An official document or certificate issued by the building official authorizing performance of a specified activity.

Substantial Improvement --Any repair, reconstruction or improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50 percent of the property's market value.

Variance-- A grant of relief which would allow construction in a manner otherwise prohibited by required standards. Variances are granted only when specific enforcement of standards will result in unnecessary hardship.

Appeal –  a request to have the applicable construction Board review and confirm or change a decision of the Charleston County Building Official or his designee.

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In 1953, the S.C. General Assembly adopted the state's first plumbing code. This created a need for plumbing inspections, which were initially performed by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. At the request of local contractors, architects and engineers, Charleston County Council adopted plumbing codes in 1968 and established the Department of Building Inspection Services to enforce them. Council also adopted the Zoning and Flood Plain Management Ordinances in 1973, Standard Mechanical Code in 1981, and Fire Prevention Code in 1982, and Decal Ordinance in 1990. These ordinances are also enforced by the Department, which currently operates as the Building Inspections Department.

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Interesting Facts

dot The Department was recognized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a Class 4 in the Community Rating system as part of the National Flood Insurance Program based on activities the County performs to enhance our ability to withstand floods. This allows Charleston County residents to receive 30% discounts on flood insurance premiums.
dot The Department has been rated by the private insurance industry's Building Code Effectiveness Grading program as a Class 2. This rating, one of the highest ratings granted to a county in the program to date, results in various property insurance premium discounts, depending on the individual insurance company.
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