Understanding the Building and Development Process

Learn more about the Hamilton County building and development process, including the requirements & procedures to take your project from concept to completion.

Our department administers the regulations and adopted plans that guide where and how new development occurs in Hamilton County. Our goal is to balance the health, safety, and general welfare of the community with a property owner’s desire to maximize the land use.

Development and construction within Hamilton County involves a number of agencies, jurisdictions, and utilities. The review process, boards and commissions, regulations, and required permits necessary to begin construction may vary depending on whether your development is in a rural area, an urbanized township, a village, or a city.

We work to ensure your development proposal receives a thorough and efficient review process and we will coordinate with other departments and stakeholders, including:

  • Neighboring property owners
  • Public agencies
  • Utility companies
  • Elected officials
  • General public
  • Developers
  • Engineers
  • Architects
  • Attorneys

Our Development Services Facilitator and Staff are here to answer your questions and guide you every step of the way.


Icon - Development Process Step 1: Predevelopment Step 1: Predevelopment

Applicants are encouraged to contact Hamilton County to discuss any contemplated development project for due diligence purposes. At their option, applicants can choose to either set up a comprehensive predevelopment meeting with all jurisdictional parties or communicate with individual agencies. This meeting is not required and Development Services Staff will not approve any plans or issue permits as a result.

Predevelopment Meeting

Predevelopment Meeting Packet  

Contact Michael Stehlin, Chief Building Official at (513) 946-4519 to set up a predevelopment meeting for your project that includes all corresponding development department and agencies to review and discuss your proposed project. Invited attendees include all local jurisdictions, including those listed below. There is no cost to set up this meeting.

The applicant can also complete an Individual Departmental Verification for their site due diligence. These are some suggested options that each applicant should contemplate prior to submitting for any proposed development project.

  1. Verify Sewer and Water Availability - Preliminary application for water availability and sewer availability (Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati  ).
  2. Verify if any Environmental or Historical issues may impact the site. Contact Dan Taphorn at the Soil and Water Conservation District (513) 772-7645 to discuss.
    1. Filing applicable Nationwide 401 or 404 permits for wetlands and stream remediation.
    2. Verify if the site is an Indiana Bat habitat, an endangered species in Ohio.
    3. Verify if any historical buildings may be located on the site.
  3. Verification of 100-year Floodplain – Applicants are required to confirm if there proposed development is located in the 100-year floodplain by having a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) review. Contact Olivia Maltry, Floodplain Technician at (513) 946-4760.
  4. Preliminary concept review for Access Management and Transportation with the Hamilton County Engineer (Recommended for large projects). Contact Eric Beck at (513) 946-8430.
  5. Contact Development Services to discuss zoning and subdivision options and or requirements for a project with Hamilton County Development Services.
    1. Call Bryan Snyder at Development Services (513) 946-4464.
    2. Schedule Pre-Application Meeting with Development Services Administrator (if necessary or required)

Icon - Development Process Step 2: Zoning Step 2: Zoning

Verify, adjust and or change the Zoning for site (if necessary). Zoning is a set of standards that specify what may or may not be permitted on a property. All uses must meet the applicable zoning requirements for their specific property including, but not limited to setbacks, heights, lots sizes, landscaping, buffer yards, signage, lighting, fences, and walls. Attainment of the desired zoning may be obtained by right or through a number of zoning procedures dependent on the current zoning and the desired uses.

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Icon - Development Process Step 3: Subdivision and Lot Split Step 3: Subdivision / Lot Split

This process includes the division of any property into new parcels in compliance with the Rules and Regulations of the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission for Plats and Subdivision of Land within the Unincorporated Territory of Hamilton County, Ohio. All lots must comply with applicable local zoning and applicable regulations of sewer or sewerage disposal authorities. All subdivision functions within the unincorporated townships in Hamilton County are coordinated through the Hamilton County Subdivision Administrator in the Planning and Development Department.

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Icon - Development Process Step 4: Site Improvements Step 4: Site Improvements

Site improvements to a property can be completed provided applicants submit and are approved for all necessary permits. At the applicants option, site improvements that are part of a building permit can be separately submitted and completed in advance of or during a building permit application for any structure on the site. Site preparation may be permitted however, but no work on any structure will be permitted without a building permit. Structures include most retaining walls - call Building and Inspections at (513) 946-4550 for retaining wall requirements.

Soil and Water (Earthworks Movement Permits  )
Stormwater (Stormwater Drainage System (SDS)) or (Floodplain Management)
Engineer (Driveway Permit)

Icon - Development Process Step 5: Zoning Certificates Step 5: Zoning Certificates

Following zoning compliance and/or subdivision approval, applicants can submit for a Zoning Certificate. Applicants must submit for a zoning certificate for most structural improvements. A zoning certificate will be issued pending conformance to the zoning resolutions. An application must be filed with Hamilton County Zoning or the local zoning authority.

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Hamilton County Buildings + Inspections Division is the permitting authority for commercial and residential projects in all unincorporated Hamilton County. In addition, we provide these services for the following municipalities:Amberley Village, Elmwood Place*, Indian Hill, North Bend and Terrace Park*, and Wyoming*. After a zoning certificate has been issued by the respective jurisdiction, we accept, process, review, inspect, and issue building permits.

This coordinated process requires approvals from various permitting agencies (sewer, water, fire, health department, etc.), but some functions (Electric Permits) must be applied for separately.

  • Track the building permit process using ezTrak Online Services

*Commercial permits only.

Icon - Building Process Step 1: Presubmission Step 1: Presubmission

Schedule a meeting to discuss your project, ask questions and learn more about the Hamilton County review process prior to submitting your plans.

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Icon - Building Process Step 2: Application Step 2: Application

The permit Counter of the Hamilton County Planning + Development Department Coordinates all Building permit applications.

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Icon - Building Process Step 3: Review and Approval Step 3: Review and Approval

A Hamilton County Planning + Development Building Plan Examiner will review application in the order of receipt based on the submission type. Review time tables are dependent on the submission type, any required revisions, customer turnarounds and workloads. Hamilton County has established goals to initiate a review based on each type of review.

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Icon - Building Process Step 4: Post-Approval and Permits by Non-HCPD Agencies Step 4: Post-Approval and Permits by Non-HCPD Agencies

Dependent on the project, there are several other permits and inspections that may be required for approval. Below is partial list of these approvals and permits, which may be applicable to your project:

  • Plumbing Permits – Hamilton County Public Health District permits and inspects all plumbing, backflow devices and water heaters for all of Hamilton County, except the Cities of Cincinnati, Norwood, Springdale and Sharonville. (Click here for Details  )
  • Food services –  Hamilton County Public Health District licenses and inspects food service operators for all of Hamilton County, except the Cities of Cincinnati, Norwood, Springdale and Sharonville. (Click here for details  )
  • Electrical – I.B.I.. (Inspection Bureau, Inc.) reviews and inspects all electric plans on behalf of the Building and Inspections Division of the Planning and Development Department as well as the City of Cincinnati and over thirty other municipalities. (Click here for details  )
  • Onsite Sewer Collections Inspections - Hamilton County Public Health (HCPH) approves plans, issues permits and conducts inspections for all household sewage treatment systems and small flow onsite sewage treatment systems located within their jurisdiction (all of Hamilton County excluding cities of Cincinnati, Norwood, Springdale, Sharonville).   Applicants will need to schedule inspections with HCPH District during construction.  (Click here for details  )
  • Sewer Taps and inspections – Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSDGC) provides sanitary sewer service to most of Hamilton County (exceptions include Glendale, Indian Hill, Terrace Park, Harrison, Harrison Township, Whitewater Township). Applicants must obtain a Sewer Tap and Inspection before a building Certificate of Occupancy can be issued.  (Click here for details  )   Please see contact information for any other sewer water jurisdiction
  • Water Taps and inspections - Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) provides Water service to most of Hamilton County (exceptions include, Glendale, Indian Hill, Addyston, Cleves (including Western Miami Township and most of Whitewater Township), Portions of Harrison Township, Harrison, Loveland and Wyoming).  Applicants requiring a new or upgraded service must obtain a Water Tap and Inspection before a building Certificate of Occupancy can be issued.  (Click here for details  ) Please be aware that older water meters may need to be replaced.  Please see contact information for any other water jurisdiction.
  • Utility coordination – Be sure to contact the local energy provider.  Most Hamilton County is served by Duke Energy for Gas and Electric.

Icon - Building Process Step 5: Inspections Step 5: Inspections

Once a building permit is issued Applicants can begin work on the project and call in for required inspections. Building Inspections are completed by the Hamilton County Planning + Development Department ( Buildings + Inspections). There are also other inspection that are completed by other agencies which are required before an Certificate of Occupancy can be issued.

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