Permit for temporary deck needed?

aquafire

Member
Feb 14, 2024
18
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I know that I would need a permit to add a deck to my house. However, I'm not sure if I'd need one if the deck was meant to be temporary. In our case, it's only going to be used for a wedding ceremony, before it will be taken apart and relocated. The structure will run alongside our home, and we plan to seat about 40 guests. What do you think?
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Location
United States
In most places, I believe they look at factors such as the deck's size, how far it is off the ground, whether it is attached to the home, and whether it will be used as a main entrance/exit to the home. I'd look into the exact requirements that trigger the need for a permit in your area, then try to stay within the bounds so you don't need one.
 
I know that I would need a permit to add a deck to my house. However, I'm not sure if I'd need one if the deck was meant to be temporary. In our case, it's only going to be used for a wedding ceremony, before it will be taken apart and relocated. The structure will run alongside our home, and we plan to seat about 40 guests. What do you think?

Congrats on the upcoming wedding! Weddings are definitely occasions where people go all out to make things perfect, like your plan to construct additional deck space for seating. That doesn't sound cheap to do. At my (low budget) wedding I remember my brother-in-law splurging and getting us Cristal for the head table. Sometimes you go over the top for the people you love but it's totally worth it if it's in the name of making lasting memories.

I reached out to a few different building departments to run this question by them and here's what they got back to me with:

Rockdale County, GA - Planning and Development Department:

Rockdale County does not acknowledge the existence of temporary decks. According to the county's regulations, decks are classified as accessory structures and are considered to be permanent constructions. Therefore, a building permit is required before any deck is built. If you wish to construct a deck, you must first obtain a permit, which entails the submission of an application, review, inspection, and payment of fees. Additionally, if you ever decide to remove the deck, you must also obtain a permit and pay fees for its demolition.

Glades County, FL - Community Development Department:

Engineered plans are required for a structure that is proposed to seat 40 people.

For something “temporary”, it may be easier and more cost effective to rent a stage that can be removed after the event.

Glades County staff also mentioned that their permit process is similar to Rockdale County's and that they'd likewise require building and demolition permits for the construction and removal of temporary decks. They mentioned that someone proposing a project like this in their jurisdiction would need to refer to Florida Building Code 2023 8th Edition for further specifics (in case anyone from Florida reads this).

Harwinton, CT - Building Department:

State of Connecticut building code may or may not require a permit for a temporary structure. Section R 105.2, as amended, states, #10 “Decks and ramps not exceeding 200 square feet in area, that are not more than 30 inches above grade at any point, are not attached to a dwelling, do not require guards, and do not serve the exit door required by section R311.4 “ would be exempt from permit requirement. So, if your deck meets all of that, no permit needed. If it doesn’t, we head to section R107.

Section R107.1 ,as amended, states “ The building official is authorized to issue a permit for temporary structures and temporary uses. Such permits shall be limited as to time of service, but shall not be permitted for more than 180 days. The building official is authorized to grant a single 180-day extension for demonstrated cause. R107.2 , Conformance. Temporary structures and uses shall conform to the structural strength, fire safety, means of egress, light, ventilation and sanitary requirements of this code as necessary to ensure the public health, safety and general welfare. There are some exceptions but not for decks.

To answer your question if a temporary deck needs a permit, MAYBE

Bottom line

If your local jurisdiction's requirements are anything like Rockdale and Glades Counties', then the work to permit/construct and then permit/demolish the deck may be more effort than it's worth. However, you should take a look at your jurisdiction's permit exemptions to see if there are criteria that can be met, like those stated in the Connecticut State Building Code (CSBC), such that you can avoid needing a permit altogether. It's also possible your building official could have discretionary authority, like Harwinton's per CSBC, to authorize the temporary deck - that's something else to keep in mind.

Assuming you can't fit under an exemption, I'd probably be inclined to look into renting a stage like Glades County staff suggested. The permit process (if any) seems like it would be much simpler.
 
I would imagine a permit would be required in most cases, but you could try and set one up without getting the required permit, as long as it's taken down soon after, you should be fine. I think if the deck stayed for a longer period of time, you could get into some trouble. But, you do risk the chance of getting fined for going against the rules, so keep that in mind.

But, it couldn't hurt to check with your local permitting office just in case and see if it's okay to do something like this, or at least check to see what you'd need to do in order to set up temporary decking. Some places may be more relaxed on it, but some may penalize you for not following up with the proper permits. Where I live, it would need to be permitted, as they view it as a building or extension of your property.
 
Amazing! I didn't expect to get so many helpful replies. That's what I love about this community; members are always friendly and willing to share their knowledge. My family and I sure appreciate the help. You've given us a lot to think about as we move towards the big day.
 
Even for a temporary structure like a wedding deck, you need a permit, but then regulations also vary by location. Permit requirements ensure safety and compliance with zoning laws. Failing to obtain a permit could result in fines or even having to dismantle the structure, therefore, it is advisable to check local building codes.
 
I want to say that obtaining a permit to add a temporary deck to your house is a prudent step because it will ensure compliance with building codes and safety standards as well.
 
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