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Building Permits Around the World

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I have always been curious about building permits process around the globe. And was wondering of some of the engineers outside the US (or may be some US engineers familiar with other countries) can shed some light on the process,

 

e.g.

 

1.       Are they even called permits

2.       Who issues them? (city? State? Independent agency? Fed Gov?)

3.       How much of a pain is it

4.       How long does a basic permit take to obtain

5.       Are fee required? Are they high or low?

6.       When is it required (or not required)

7.       What codes are used

8.       Are plan checks and inspections required and to what extent

 

Thanks

 

Bill