Tue, Sep 19, 2017
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Building Permits:

Scottsdale requires a structural engineer report on the specific structure for residential PV and DHW. This costs a minimum of $500, usually higher. However, this has identified some potentially dangerous residences.

The Cities of Gilbert and Mesa do not require any permit for residential systems that do not involve changes to the main service electrical panel. The City of Mesa extends this to commercial systems. In Mesa the exemption includes the parking canopy construction as “just another mounting structure for the solar". A zoning review may be required in Mesa unless there are existing canopies and the solar canopy fits in with the others. However, if a building permit is needed in Mesa, it generally takes ‘only’ 20 working days, but Mesa is on a 4-day/week schedule so this means 5 weeks.

Plan review and permits generally add about 2% to the cost of a PV system.

The Cities of Gilbert and Mesa have generally accepted roof layout requirements intended to improve fire fighter safety in the event a house fire requires roof ventilation or other fire fighter roof access. Since building permits are not required, there is no formal check on this unless complaints are filed. There are many residential PV systems that do not conform to this requirement. 

A recent project to install a covered parking canopy with a PV system on residential property in the City of Phoenix was a permit problem. In Phoenix simple PV systems can have a building permit issued ‘over the counter’ the same day with a set of properly designed plans. Not so simple with a large PV system on a separate parking canopy, located on a hillside lot. First of all, the Residential counter in the permit office takes a quick look at the plans and says “We are not staffed to review a parking structure, you need to go to the Commercial counter (another wait), then the Commercial counter looks up the property and states “This is residential, we cannot handle residential, go back to the Residential counter”. After insisting that the supervisors of these counters discuss this, they decide that two separate permits (structure and PV) are needed. The structure permit starts with a Site Plan that must include the square footages of the lot, hillside designated area, under roof area, disturbed areas, etc., all based on the original building permit for the lot many years ago. If the present owner of the lot does not have this information, one must wait for the City of Phoenix to search the archives. This took weeks and several meetings with zoning. Only after a building permit for the parking structure has been issued can a separate permit for the PV system be issued, and not over the counter. The whole procedure can take three months.