Borough of West Reading adopted the statewide building code, officially know as the Uniform Construction Code (UCC).
The UCC set minimum standards for design and construction. The UCC has adopted the International Code Council Family of Codes. For more information on the PA Uniform Construction Code go to: PA L&I Building Code Website
What is a Building Permit?
It's an official document or certificate issued by the Borough and regulated by the State which has jurisdiction and authorizes performance of a specified activity. The building project must be in accordance with approved drawings and specifications.
Why Do I Need a Building Permit?
The Building Codes are minimum safety standards of all building construction. These codes ensure the safety of you, your family, anyone entering the building/structure and all future occupants.
A building permit is required for all projects involving construction of any type, including the placement of pre-fabricated accessory structures, electrical, plumbing, heat source upgrades, installing an artificial or natural fence, creating a parking space, sidewalk replacement, retaining walls, etc. Review our Permit Application Procedure and Building Permit Information for help with applying for building and zoning permits.
Hiring a Contractor?
Hiring a contractor who can efficiently perform renovations to your home seems to cause more fear and anxiety than any other decision you will make about your home. How do you know you have the right contractor, someone you can trust to do a good job for a fair price and stand behind their work? Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. But with due diligence and knowing what to look for you improve the odds of getting the right contractor.
What is a Contractor?
A contractor is someone who oversees the entire job, whether it's new construction or a major remodel job. The contractor is responsible for managing all aspects of the job including purchasing the materials and hiring the sub-contractors (subs).
Typically, you sign a contract with the contractor and make payments only to them. The contractor is responsible for paying the subs and suppliers. When you have a contractor on the job, you have a person you can go to with all your questions and comments about the work. The contractor in turn communicates your concerns to the subs. Smaller projects may be handled by your contractor directly with no subs.
Investigate your contractor ~
Whether you obtain referrals from people you trust or end up blindly calling listings from the phone book, it's important to investigate your contractor.
- Ask for multiple references
- Look a prospective contractor up on Google
- Look them up on your local chapter of the Better Business Bureau
- Check Google for review, bad reports or law suits
Even after you have checked their credentials and spoken with the contractor, ask yourself:
- Did the contractor return your call promptly?
- Were they on time for your meeting?
- During the meeting, did the contractor answer questions to your satisfaction?
- Willingly provide references?
- Lay out his expectations for the job?
- Did you communicate well?
If your contractor can't understand you or vice versa, your house and budget could be in serious jeopardy.
Bids and References ~
When you ask contractors to bid on your job, be sure and provide each one with an identical packet of information including plans and a suggested list of materials. The bids you receive should be in writing and contain an itemized list of labor and material charges. You want fixed costs, not time and material bids, which have a way of escalating if left open ended.
Keep them honest!
The bids you receive will tell you a lot about the people bidding. Was the bid ready when the contractor promised? It's a bad sign if the contractor breaks his first commitment to you. Was the bid outrageously high? The contractor is busy and only wants the job if you're willing to pay a premium for his time. Was the bid really low? This contractor either doesn't understand the scope of the job or deliberately underbid to get the job or will likely discover several unexpected problems not covered in the original contract and will require additional cash outlay.
When you get references from a contractor, make every effort to not only call the contractor's references, but to go over and see the work for yourself. You never know, that happy client could have entirely different quality standards than you do.
As stated above, ENSURE you check into your contractors business conduct before you sign a contract.
Check the credit history and bank references, verify the contractor carries both workers' compensation and liability insurance, and make sure there are no complaints against the contractor filed with the local consumer affairs office, builders' association, or Better Business Bureau as suggested above.
Take before, during and after pictures of the area being worked on.
Any changes to your original contract should be in writing of some type (email, contract amendment, fax, etc.).
Don't be afraid to compare prices of materials, some contractors may mark up your materials to recoup unplanned costs.
Building Permit Application
When your project includes constructing a new commercial building or structure, adding on to a commercial building or making structural and/or non-structural alterations to a commercial building, please complete the Building Permit Application and submit the required 3 sets of drawings for review.
Berks County Conservation District approval is required for any earth disturbance equal to or greater than 5,000 square feet. Please see their project application.
The following DO NOT require a permit: carpeting, painting, wallpapering and landscaping
The Building Permit Application is PDF format. You will need Adobe Reader of other Adobe software to view them.
A Certificate of Insurance is required prior to issuance of a permit for any contractor performing work within the Borough. Applications may be submitted to the Code Enforcement Office located within Borough Hall. Please call to check on the status of your application PRIOR to allowing any work to commence.
If a homeowner is performing repairs or the contractor is a sole proprietor and does not carry workers' compensation coverage please submit a worker's compensation affidavit with every permit application.
Property Owners with Commercial Space:
Prior to renting your commercial space to a particular type of business please contact the Zoning Officer to determine if this is a permissible use in your zoning district. The Zoning Officer can be reached in the Code Enforcement Department.
Prior to remodeling your building for any business, please contact the Zoning Officer and the Commercial Building Inspector to determine what type of upgrades may be required.
Prior to renting any area of your property as a residential rental unit, please contact the Code Enforcement Department to schedule an inspection. Also, see the "Rental Property" tab for additional information.
A Plumbing Permit must be acquired by a licensed, master plumber when installing new plumbing fixtures, new drain lines and water lines within a house or business, and when installing or altering venting systems. Please complete the plumbing application when doing bathroom renovations, kitchen renovations, additions involving plumbing, and new homes. Note: In residential construction; swapping out an existing fixture with a brand new fixture located in the same exact location does not require a permit.
A Certificate of Occupancy Inspection is required prior to the sale or transfer of ANY property located within the Borough. The Borough wants to ensure all single and multiple family dwellings meet certain zoning and property maintenance requirements prior to the property transfer. In order to effectively and efficiently ensure the dwelling units are in compliance, the Borough Code Enforcement Officer must inspect each property before the transfer of title.
The fee for this inspection is $100.00 for a single unit, add $25.00 for each additional unit. Inspections scheduled less than five (5) business days from settlement will be charged $200.00.
Applications for the Property Transfer Inspection may be completed by the seller, buyer, or agent for the seller or buyer of the property. The inspection fee must accompany the application form.
Certificate of Occupancy Application
Certificate of Occupancy Inspection Checklist
A Solicitation Permit is required for any type of door-to-door soliciting (i.e. products, services, handing out flyers/any materials, leaving flyers/brochures for residents or to attach door hangers, etc). Permits must be secured prior to soliciting activity. A Borough issued ID badge must be worn at all times while soliciting. If a person approaches your home and cannot provide an ID badge issued by the Codes Department please retain any contact information and forward to our attention.
A Sign Permit is required for all new signs and/or changes to existing signs. The fee for an initial, or revised commercial sign permit is $100.00. A permit must be completed and approved prior to the installation. We recommend obtaining permit approval prior to purchasing a sign.
A Temporary Sign Permit is required prior to installing any type of banner, special sale signage, flags, pennants, and similar temporary signs such as "A" Frame signs, etc. There is no fee for this permit.
Temporary signs are permissible not more than 4 times per year for a period of no more than 20 days per occurrence up to a maximum total of 60 days per calendar year. Temporary and banner signs shall be a maximum of 20 square feet per occurrence.
An Alarm Permit is required for all alarmed properties within the Borough, there is a one time permit fee of $50.00. Please be aware that after three (3) false alarms within a calendar year a fine of $100.00 will be issued for each and every false alarm thereafter until December 31st. Please contact the Code Enforcement Department promptly with any change to alarm company or emergency contact information.
A Burn Permit is required prior to the use of any type of chimnea or outdoor fireplace unit. All portable fireplace units must be located a minimum of fifteen (15) feet from all structures in the yard area. This permit application must be approved by the Fire Chief. The burn permit fee is $25.00 annually.
A Rental Occupancy Permit is required for all residential units and is to be acquired by the owner of the property. The fee for a rental occupancy permit is $75.00 per unit per year, which includes a mandatory bi-annual (every two years) interior and exterior inspection of every rental unit. A tenant listing of all occupants must be completed for every rental unit and updated within (10) days of any change in occupancy as well as on an annual basis. Please see the "Rental Property" tab for additional information.
- 2nd Reinspection ~ $50.00
- 3rd Reinspection ~ $75.00
- 4th Reinspection ~ $100.00
- 5th Reinspection ~ $125.00
Tenant Listing Form
A Garage Sale/Yard Sale Permit is required to be completed prior to the sale. The first permit is FREE and the second one is $5.00. Only two (2) garage/yard sales are permitted per calendar year. This does not include any advertised West Reading Borough wide event. Signs for your yard/garage sale may only be posted on your property. Signs may not be placed on telephone or electric poles or in the planting strip.
A Digging Permit application is required whenever a street or sidewalk is required to be cut to renew/install new underground service and/or digging to repair any under ground utility services. The fee is $50.00 for each sidewalk cut and $100.00 per street cut. Sidewalks must be restored per Borough specifications which also requires a building permit to be obtained prior to work commencing. NOTE: A PA 1 call MUST be placed at least 3 business days prior to digging.
A Zoning Permit application must be submitted and approved prior to allowing occupancy of any commercial space, installation of fence, creating parking areas, installation of a shed or accessory structure, etc. If a zoning application is denied by the Zoning Officer, the applicant may request a hearing before the West Reading Zoning Hearing Board.
A Dumpster or Storage Trailer Permit is required prior to placing a dumpster or POD within the street. Please give a minimum of 2 days notice prior to having the dumpster/POD placed.
The fees are as follows:
- Weekly ~ $25.00
- Monthly ~ $50.00
- 60-Day ~ $100.00