Step 3 - Prepare to Apply

Graphic arrow showing step 3, Prepare.
Make sure you have all required documents and plans BEFORE you apply for your permits online.

Now that you’ve defined your project and reviewed the types of permits you may need, it’s time to assemble the documentation you’ll need to apply. Below, you’ll find detailed checklists of what you need for common permits, as well as document examples.

Important: Have you checked with the Health Department on whether you will need a septic permit or evaluation? Even if you don’t think your project will affect your septic system, it’s best to check with the Health Department first so there are no surprises later. Septic permits must be issued before you can get any other permits. Call the department at 406-258-4990. You can read more on septic system evaluations in the Resources section.

Application Checklists

Detached accessory structures over 200 sq ft: In Missoula County, the design criteria for detached accessory buildings and other structures is based on International Building Codes Chapter 16 Section 1604.5  Risk categories are based on the threat to human life in the event of structure failure.  Be sure to verify with your builder/supplier/Licensed Design Professional that your structure is designed with the appropriate Risk category, Snow load, Windshear and Seismic zones for your project location and they are noted on your stamped plans.

In Missoula County, the only structures accepted as Risk Category 1 are Agricultural Buildings, Self Storage Facilities and personal storage sheds under 200 square feet, all other structures and uses are Risk Category II or higher.

Different permits involve different documentation requirements. Be sure to carefully review the documentation required for each permit you’ll need.


Expiration of Application and Permits 

If you apply for a permit online and we notify you that the application is not complete, you will have two weeks from the notification date to complete it. If we do not receive a complete application package in two weeks, we will send you an email that your application is cancelled unless you request an extension first.

Any in-person applications that are incomplete will not be accepted. 

The International Residential and Building Codes dictate that all permits and applications will expire unless pursued in good faith (see references below).

Permit Applications

Once a permit application has been reviewed and approved for issuance, you have six months to pay for the permit. You also have six months to pick up the permit, a copy of the approved plans, and the inspection card. If you fail to pay for or pick up the permit, approved plans, or inspection card within six months, the permit is abandoned and voided. 

Reference International Building Code 105.3.2 and International Residential Code 105.3.2 Time limitation of application:  An application for permit for any proposed work shall be deemed to have been abandoned 180 days after the date of filing, unless such application has been pursued in good faith or a permit has been issued; except that the building official is authorized to grant one or more extensions of time for additional periods not exceeding 180 days each. The extension shall be requested in writing and justifiable cause demonstrated.


We will not refund an application review fee if the application is canceled, abandoned or void if the building review was already completed.

Issued Permits

After you pay for and pick up your building permit, approved plans, and inspection card, they are valid for one year.   

Reference International Building Code 105.5 and International Residential Code 105.5 Expiration.  Every permit issued shall become invalid unless the work on the site authorized by such permit is commenced within 180 days after its issuance, or if the work authorized on the site by such permit is suspended or abandoned for a period of 180 days after the time the work is commenced. The building official is authorized to grant, in writing, one or more extensions of time, for periods not more than 180 days each.  The extension shall be required in writing and justifiable cause demonstrated. Each inspection automatically extends the permit out 6 months when nearing the 365-day period. 

**A valid completed inspection will automatically extend the permit for six months.

You may request an extension of time to complete an application or to finish the work under an issued permit if we determine that there is good cause for such an extension.  The permit extension form must be approved and signed by the Missoula County Building Official.

If we do not receive a request for extension of an existing permit, then the permit will enter "Expired" status. 

The options for the applicant will be: 

  1. Call for an inspection (if they have work to inspect), or 
  2. Apply for an extension (no cost): 
    1. "Application" Extension
    2. "Permit" Extension
  3. Do nothing, in which case, the applicant will receive an email notice of abandoned/expired permit and file a Notice of Violation on the property title indicating an open permit exists. If the application is abandoned/expired and a Stop Work Order (SWO) has been issued, then a Notice of Violation (NOV) would be filed.



Once you’ve gathered all the necessary documentation, you’re ready for Step 4: Apply for Permits.