Building Permits & Inspections

Always remember that building permits are required when constructing any item on your lots. Make sure to check with the Planning Department before construction to see if a building permit will be required for your new construction.

Major repairs and renovations will require a building permit. Plans and specifications will be required when doing these types of construction. Some minor repairs like the replacement of doors, windows and roof shingles may not require a permit however, an application must be submitted so that the Planning staff can make that determination. The Planning Department will be able to guide you in any new regulations that may have been passed down from the state and or the federal level. As we have seen in the most recent events around the world, good building practices save lives and in turn poor building practices does not produce positive outcomes. Lets make sure to use safe building practices.


All Commercial Construction will need to adhere to the following Standards adopted by the City of Alton:

The City of Alton is Raising the Bar for it’s Standards.  See Bar-Lift link below.




You may also want to review the following:

If you need assistance and would like to set up a consultation with one of the Planning staff, contact the Planning Department at (956)432-0760 or e-mail at


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Will I require an inspection for a re-connection of electricity?

A: Yes. In order to provide better service for a healthier and safer environment, an inspection will be required on electrical re-connections. Please advise the Planning Department so they can guide you with proper procedure. (also read Building Safety above).

Q: What does the term “Grandfathered” mean?

A: Grandfathered is a layman’s term for an existing non-conforming use or structure. When a use or structure is in operation and regulation changes to make that use no longer legal, it is generally considered “existing non-conforming” or “Grandfathered”. This means a new structure that does not meet the new code for the district cannot be constructed, or a new use of this type that does not meet the new code will no be permitted. However, as long as the existing use or structure is not abandoned for a period of 6 months or more, or subject to destruction in excess of 50% of the property value, it may continue its current operation.

Q: What is the difference between a Conditional Use Permit and a Variance?

A: The most important distinction between a conditional use permit and a variance is the type of deviation from the zoning ordinance.

*A “conditional use permit” involves uses that generally are not consistent with a particular zoning district, but are allowed in specific circumstances set forth in the city’s zoning ordinance. This permit is issued with conditions. An applicant for a conditional use permit must show that the standards and criteria in the ordinance will be satisfied. This permit “runs with the land” and is not granted to a specific owner. The city can revoke a conditional use permit if there is not substantial compliance with the conditions set forth in the issued permit.

*A “variance” is a permit departure from strict enforcement of the code if such enforcement would cause the owner undue hardship. Undue hardship means: The property cannot be put to reasonable use without the variance. The owner’s plight is not caused by the owner and is due to circumstances unique to the property. The variance, if granted, will not altar locality’s essential character. Economic circumstances alone cannot create an undue hardship. All three of the aforementioned criteria must apply in order to prove “undue hardship”.

Q: Can I build a 6 foot or 8 foot solid fence to enclose my front yard.

A: No. Unless the subdivision plat and/or covenants prohibits all fencing in the front yard, all fence construction would be governed by the ICC International Building Code. Solid fencing in front yards is not allowed however an application to construct a fence of no more the 4 feet that is not of solid construction (example of non solid fencing: Hurricane, wrought iron, wood picket fencing) may be allowed upon approved by the Planning Department.