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Buying or Selling a Home

Does Sparta Township require an inspection on the resale of a home?

                No.  We do not require a Certificate of Continued Occupancy on the resale of a home. 

A Smoke Detector Certification is required and is performed by the Fire Prevention Department; Please call 973-729-4227 to schedule an appointment.  If you need a letter stating that a CCO is not required you must request it in writing and there is a $5 fee.  Please allow ample time before your closing.

I’m selling my house, is the Township going to make me remove my underground oil storage tank?

No.  As long as the tank is still being used and it is not leaking it may remain in place.  A prospective buyer may want you to remove or properly abandon it in place, but that is a contractual negotiation between you and the buyer. 

I’m selling my house, the buyer’s inspector said some items are not “up to code”, is the Township going to make me bring my house up to the current code?

No.  Codes are updated every three years, there is no requirement that existing buildings conform to new codes unless work is being done.  This is a contractual negotiation between you and the buyer. 

General Building Codes and Procedures
     When is a permit required?

A permit is required to construct, enlarge, repair, renovate, alter, reconstruct or demolish a structure or to install or alter equipment, such as heating or air conditioning.  There are exceptions for ordinary maintenance. 

The following are not considered ordinary repairs and would require a permit:

·         Cutting away of any wall, partition or portion thereof.

·         The removal or change of any structural beam or bearing support.

·         The removal or change of any required means of egress.

·         Any work affecting structural or fire safety.

·         Any work that will increase the nonconformity of any building or structure.

·         Addition to, or alteration, replacement or relocation of water supply, sewer drainage, gas, soil, waste, vent or similar piping.

·         Addition to, or alteration, replacement or relocation of electrical wiring other than low voltage communication wiring in a one or two family home.

·         Installation of wood paneling.

The following are considered ordinary repairs and would not require a permit:

·         Exterior or interior painting.

·         Installation, repair or replacement of less than 25% of plaster or drywall in any given room.

·         Vinyl or Paper wall covering.

·         Replacement of glass in any door or window.  (The glass must be of the type required by code.)

·         The installation and replacement of any window or door, including garage doors, in the same opening without altering the dimensions or framing of the original opening.  This includes storm windows and doors.  Replacement egress doors and windows shall reduce the required height, width or net clear opening of the previous window or door.

·         Repair or replacement of any non-structural member such as kitchen cabinets.

·         The replacement or installation of any flooring material in a one or two family home.

·         The repair or installation of interior or exterior trim or molding.

·         The repair of existing roof material not exceeding 25% of the total roof area in any 12-month period. 

·         The repair of existing siding, with like material, not exceeding 25% of the total building exterior wall area in    any 12-month period.

·         The repair or replacement of any part of a porch or stoop, which does not support a roof.

·         Te replacement or installation of screens.

·         Installation of roll or batt insulation when installed within 1 ½ inch of an interior finish.

·         Replacement of exterior rain gutters and leaders.

·         Replacement hose bib valves in single-family homes, replacement hose bib valves must have an atmospheric vacuum breaker.

·         Refinishing of any plumbing fixtures.  Relining of plumbing fixtures is not considered an ordinary repair.

·         Repair of leaks by replacement of piping between two fittings only.

·         Replacement of faucets or working parts of faucets.

·         Replacement of valves other than shower or combination bath/shower valves.

·         Replacement of working parts of valves.

·         Replacement of traps in single-family homes.

·         Replacement of a toilet, bathroom sink or kitchen sink, provided no change in pipe arrangement is needed.  Replacement toilets shall use a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush.

·         Replacement of existing domestic clothes washers or dishwashers.

·         Replacement of any receptacle (outlet), switch, or lighting fixture rated at 20 amps or less and operating at less than 150 volts.  Replacement of a receptacle in a location requiring a ground fault circuit interrupter by the electric code is not considered an ordinary repair and requires a permit. 

·         The installation of battery operated smoke detectors.

·         Repair or Replacement of heating or air conditioning components; motors, pumps and fans of the same capacity; heating supply and return piping and radiation elements not requiring the rearrangement of the piping system; ductwork or control devices (thermostats).

·         Replacement of kitchen range hoods in a single family home.

·         Replacement of clothes dryers, stoves or ovens within dwelling units provided no change in fuel type, location or electrical characteristics is required.


If you are unsure whether you need a permit, please call the Building Department and well will be glad to assist you. 


My hot water heater broke on a Friday night, do I need to wait until Monday and get a permit before I have it replaced?

No.  You are allowed to make emergency repairs and get a permit as soon as possible, but not more than 72 hours later and have all required inspections.

Can the Building Department recommend a Contractor?

No.  We would refer you to the phone book.

Do I need a permit to re-roof my house?

Yes.  If you are doing more than 25% of the total area of the roof in any 12 month period.

Do I need a permit to reside my house?

Yes.  If you are doing more than 25% of the total exterior wall area in any 12 month period.

What are the Building Department’s hours?

                The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Can I request a specific time for inspections?

                No.  Unfortunately due to the volume of inspections we cannot guarantee a specific time. 

What is the best time to talk to an inspector?

                Between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on the days that inspections are performed for the subcode.

What forms will I need for my permit application?

We use standard multi-part State application forms.  They are available at the Building Department office at no charge. 

Can you fax me the forms?

                No.  The forms are multi-part carbon copy forms. 

Can I use forms from another town?

                Yes.  As long as they are the standard New Jersey State forms. 

Can I draw the construction drawings myself or do I need an architect?

Maybe.  You can do your own drawings if they are for an owner occupied single family home.  All other structures need to be drawn and sealed by an architect and/or engineer licensed in New Jersey. 

How many copies of the construction drawing do I need to submit with my application?


What needs to be on the construction drawings?

·         Occupant load

·         Construction type

·         Use Group(s)

·         Scale, ¼ inch – 1 foot minimum, showing all dimensions

·         Code and Year used for the design

·         Floor plans of all levels with all rooms labeled

·         Location of smoke detectors

·         Elevations (front, side and rear) indicating window and door dimensions

·         Insulation R-values.  (An Energy Code Compliance Report must be included with your application)

·         Location of safety glazing

·         Manufacturer’s design specifications for prefabricated fireplaces

·         Foundation plan

·         Footing details (minimum footing depth is 42”)

·         Structural framing plans of all levels accurately detailing all members

·         Structural details of connections

·         Typical wall section with sheathing thickness and type (special products or devices require a research or evaluation report)

·         Roof framing plan

·         List of material specifications including but not limited t grade and species of lumber, concrete strength, and steel strength

·         List of design load criteria: live load, dead load, snow load, wind load, bearing capacity, and lateral earth pressure (for Sparta Township:  ground snow load = 40 psf and wind speed = 80 mph)

·         Name of the person preparing the drawings

·         If plans are prepared by a registered design professional, both sets of plans must bear the original seal and signature

·         Truss Shop Drawings for pre-engineered floor or roof trusses

·         Plumbing fixture layout and riser diagram

·         Electrical plan

How long will it take to get my permit after I make an application?

The Building Department has up to 20 business days to review your complete application after all prior approvals (Health Dept., Zoning, etc.) are met.  Smaller projects like decks and sheds are generally done more quickly.

Do I need a permit for a shed?

Yes and no.  Sheds 100 sq. ft. do not require a building permit; they do require a zoning permit.  Sheds 100 sq. ft. and over require a building permit and a zoning permit must follow the setbacks for your zone.  Sheds over 200 sq. ft. require a building permit and a zoning permit and require a foundation.

Do I need a permit to put up a fence?

Yes and No.  A building permit is not required for a fence unless it is barrier for a pool.  A zoning permit is required for all fences.  If you are replacing a fence around a pool, a building permit is required and it must meet the current code. 

When is a permit required for a pool?

A permit is required if any of the following is true about the pool:

·         It is capable of holding water more than 24 inches in depth

·         It has more than 250 sq. ft. of surface area

·         It has recirculating filter

Requirements for pools can be complicated; we suggest you come to the office and pickup our pool packet.

I’m having replacement windows installed, do I need a permit?

Maybe.  If the replacement window does not require the wall framing to be changed and does not change the original opening size, a permit is not required.  If the wall framing or original size were to be changed, a permit would be required.

Can the Building Department answer questions about my well or septic system?

No.  Wells and septic systems are handled by the Health Department.  Please direct all questions to them, they will be glad to try to answer any of your questions.  Their phone number is 973-729-6174.

How are the fees for permits calculated?

Building permits for new structures and additions are based on a fee per cubic foot of volume.  Building permits for alterations are based on a fee per dollar amount of the estimated cost of the work.  Roofing, siding, pools and sheds have a flat fee. Electric, plumbing and fire permits are based on the number of fixtures or appliances being installed.

My neighbors are doing work and I don’t think they have a permit can an inspector come check it out?

Yes.  Call the Building Department with the address and we’ll check to see if a permit has been issued, if not, we’ll send an inspector put to investigate, but please note to be fair to everyone the inspector may note violations on other properties in the neighborhood, which may include your home. 

Are there certain hours that construction activities can take place? 

Yes.  Construction activities conducted by a contractor may take place between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.  Construction activities conducted by a homeowner on his/her own home may take place between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.  The ordinance is enforced by the Police Department. 

What codes are used in Sparta Township?

International Building and Residential Codes – New Jersey Editions. 


Are there any restrictions on fences?

Yes.  The maximum height of a fence is 4 feet in your front yard and 50% open, 6 feet in your side and rear yard.  Please be aware that if your house faces more than one street you have more than one front yard.  The good side of the fence must face out.  There is no setback for fences, but we recommend that you keep it back from the property line so that you may maintain your fence without trespassing on your neighbor’s property.  Fences cannot be topped with barbed wire or razor wire.  Houses on corners may not install a fence in the “sight triangle” that would obscure the view of motorists approaching an intersection.  A zoning permit is required prior to installing a fence, be sure to bring a copy of your property survey.