Property owners have the right to develop or improve their property and structures in compliance with Town Code. When doing so, they are responsible for ensuring building permits are obtained from the Building Department PRIOR to work being started when they intend to:
- construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure
- install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical or plumbing system
- install a solid fuel burning heating appliance, chimney, or flue in any dwelling unit (installation is regulated by New York State Building Codes)
Property owners are also responsible for closing the loop on permitted projects, ensuring that all required inspections have been performed—including the final inspection—and that a Certificate of Occupancy/Certificate of Compliance has been issued by the Town of Penfield. Failure to complete this process will complicate future projects and delay real estate transactions.
The Building Department issues building permits enforces the New York Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, Town Laws, The Town Zoning Ordinance, Town Design Criteria and conditions of approval from the Town Board, Planning Board, and Zoning Board.
General answers to popular topics are addressed below. Please call the Building Department at (585) 340-8636 for answers to your specific questions.
Do I Need a Permit?
New York State Building Code requires that any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, to install, enlarge alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical or plumbing system, or the installation of a solid fuel burning heating appliance, chimney or flue in any dwelling unit, the installation of which is regulated by New York State Building Codes, or to cause such work to be done, shall first make an application to the building official and obtain the required permit.
Accessory Structures (sheds, barns, gazebos, ...)
Building permits are required for ALL residential accessory structures, both permanent and temporary.
Residential accessory structures are stand-alone buildings that are incidental and subordinate to the principal building on the same lot. Examples include tool, garden, or utility sheds; storage buildings; detached garages; pool houses; gazebos; barns, and other farm buildings.
250-5-1 code: Single-Family Residental District Code
Decks and Patios
A building permit is required for all residential deck structures, including decks attached to another structure, pool, or free-standing. Generally, decks attached to a structure must be a minimum of 50 feet from the right-of-way, 10 feet from the side, and 25 feet from the rear property lines. Pool decks must be a minimum of 50 feet from the right-of-way, 10 feet from the side, and 10 feet from the rear property lines. Corner lots and some subdivisions have unique setback requirements, please contact the Building Department for more information. Encroachment into public easements of record or drainage swales is not allowed.
250-5-1 code: Single-Family Residental District Code
Building Permits are required for concrete, paver, or other hard-surface patios, exclusive of sidewalks, walkways, or pathways. Other accessory structures such as pergolas, fire pits, and outdoor kitchens may be included in the permit for the patio if they are constructed/installed at the same time and footprint as the patio. However, spas/hot tubs require a separate building permit.
Patios require a site inspection and final Inspection. Other inspections may be required depending on the scope of the project.
Residential Patios Information sheet
A "Work within the Right-of-Way Permit" must be obtained by anyone wishing to use or work within any part of the right-of-way. A separate request must be filled out for each roadway cut within the right-of-way.
A building permit is not required for residential fences. * However, there are compliance requirements. Please refer to Town Code for details and regulations.
250-7.1 Fences. hedges and screen plantings
- There are no property line setback requirements for fences, they may be located right up to the property line.
- The maximum permitted height of a fence is 6 feet EXCEPT for fences located within 20 feet of the front property line, in which case the maximum permitted height is 3 feet.*
- The most decorative side of the fence (if there is one) is required to face outwards, toward neighboring properties.
- Fences should not be located within any easements or in a manner that will adversely impact existing drainage patterns.
Building Permits are required for the conversion of any non-habitable unfinished basement into a habitable space. This includes, but is not limited to, playrooms, bedrooms, recreation rooms, home offices, and other comparable uses.
A building permit is required for any permanently installed standby electrical generator.
A permanent standby generator is a backup electrical system installed outside the home that operates automatically to supply power to a home during a power outage. Permanent standby generators are typically connected to either a natural gas supply line or a propane tank.
A permit is required for permanently installed standby generators. The following is a list of documents required to
be submitted for a permit application:
- Town of Penfield Fuel Burning Appliance Permit Application
- Manufacturer install instructions
- RG&E Natural Gas Appliance Inventory (if natural gas install)
- RG&E Elevated Pressure Commitment Letter (if inventory BTU is > 350,000)
- Survey map of the property indicating the location of generator and distance from the house (may use a hand-drawn diagram to satisfy if survey map not available)
- Contractor insurances (or CE-200)
Within Historic Districts
Controls on Penfield landmarks and structures within historic districts
Any owner of a Penfield landmark who desires to repair the exterior of an existing building or structure has the right to repair with the identical materials, finishes, and paint colors as were in place at the time of designation and may do so without a certificate of appropriateness. The Historic Preservation Board shall have no control over interior changes in any building or structure as long as no evidence of such changes appears on the exterior.
Any owners desiring to make alterations to a structure shall design such alterations only in a manner compatible with the exterior style of the structure, the design, scale, detail, trim, manner and materials of construction.
Any owners who desire to demolish a structure shall obtain a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Board. After granting of such a certificate, a period of 120 days must elapse before a demolition permit can be issued. During this period, the Historic Preservation Board may require an appraisal to determine the fair market value of the property proposed to be demolished if in its view such appraisal is necessary to grant or deny a certificate of appropriateness. In addition, anyone who desires to save the structure by suitable means may also have this time to determine a fair price by appraisal and to locate a purchaser who will agree not to raze the structure.New structures in Historic Preservation Overlay Districts and on landmark sites shall harmonize with the general character of the structures in the district or with the landmark. However, new structures shall not be required to comply with any particular style or architectural period unless required by an approved Town plan.
Criteria for issuance of certificate of appropriateness
In making a decision on a certificate of appropriateness, the Historic Preservation Board shall not consider changes to interior spaces unless evidence of such changes appears on the exterior. The Board's decision shall be based on the following elements:
Any alteration of existing properties shall be compatible with their historic character, as well as with the surrounding properties.
Properties which contribute to the character of the Historic Preservation Overlay District shall be retained with their historic features altered as little as possible.
New construction shall be compatible with other properties in the district in which it is located.
Consideration shall be given to approved municipal plans affecting the property(ies).
In applying the principle of compatibility, the Historic Preservation Board shall consider the following factors:
The general design, character, and appropriateness to the property of the proposed alteration or new construction.
The scale and size of the proposed alteration or new construction in relation to the property itself, surrounding properties, and the neighborhood.
The texture, materials, and color and their relation to similar features of other properties in the neighborhood.
The visual compatibility with surrounding properties, including the proportion of the property's front facade, proportion and arrangement of shutters, windows, and other openings within the facade, roof shape, and the rhythm of the spacing of other properties on the streets, including setbacks.
The importance of historic, architectural, or other features to the significance of the property.
Application for the Designation of a Landmark (town)
NYS Historic Preservation Office - https://parks.ny.gov/shpo
National Register of Historic Places - https://www.nps.gov