Building Inspections


Inspections Beaufort County Building / Permitting and planning permission

In the interest of public safety, the Beaufort County Department of Building Codes will implement the following procedures during the recovery process. These procedures are intended to protect the public’s safety and general welfare from hazards arising from structures that sustained damage  during a hurricane or other disaster.

Before permitting can begin after a disaster, the county should conduct a general damage assessment of the area.


(1) The Building Division and Division of Codes will reopen immediately upon proper notice at the current office location, or to an alternate location if the current location is damaged.
(2) Inspectors will be able to issue Temporary Permits for placement of campers, recreational vehicles and temporary structures on an owner’s property for a specified period during reconstruction. Repairs are to prevent further damage, according to the following policies: the International Codes, FEMA Substantial Damage Estimation software.
(3) The inspectors will notify the owners of the need to meet the requirements of building permits and advise all interested parties on the issues of reconstruction in post-disaster situations.



(1) The permitting process will depend on the extent of damage the property has sustained. Each property will be treated individually consistent with county ordinances and the requirements of the International Building Codes. When the property suffers minor damage, it may not require a permit, depending on the type of damage.

In most cases, a permit will be required if moderate damage is sustained. The amount of information necessary to satisfy the permitting process will be determined by the type and amount of damage the structure received. In most situations where a property has sustained major damage, the owner or contractor conducting the repair will be required to submit a full plan of reconstruction.

(2) During the damage assessment, the inspector will leave a color coded sign in a visible place at the site.  The color codes are as follows:

a. Green Card – No Restrictions

A green card denotes minor property damage. The card information includes permission to make minor repairs without having to obtain a building permit or planning permission. The buildings with minor damage can be habitable a short period of time with minimal repairs. Damage may include doors, windows, floors, furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters and other repairable damages.

b. Yellow Card – Limited entry

A yellow card indicates serious property damage. The card information includes instructions on how to apply for a zoning and building permit. The owner can not occupy the building, occupancy will be allowed only when the structure is classified with a green card – with no restrictions. The structures with moderate damage can be made habitable with extensive repairs. This category may include damage to the following portions of the structure: foundation, roof structure, wall sections and any other major components of the property.

c. Red card – Dangerous

A red card denotes the property has been destroyed. The card information will include the structure is unsafe and may not be occupied. This card is not to be considered a demolition order. Structures with major damage are considered destroyed and a total loss – meaning the damage is determined to be of such an extent that repair is not feasible.



Issuance requires a formal emergency resolution by the Beaufort County Council. When an emergency is officially declared by Beaufort County Council the following procedures will be implemented when issuing permits:

Minor damage (no restrictions on use or occupancy): No plans are required, no permit is required, and no inspection activity other than damage assessment is required.

Moderate damage (Use and Occupancy Restriction): A plan for repairs or a detailed list of work performed may be required. Development plan review is not required if there is no change in footprint of the building. Emergency building permit(s) is required. Building Inspections are required prior to work beginning and during construction.

Major Damage (Use and Occupancy Restriction): Flood regulation standards shall be implemented. This standard is based upon Beaufort County Flood Map standards adopted by Beaufort County to qualify for FEMA disaster planning and reconstruction funding. Flood mapping in place at the time of the disaster will be the standard for decisions. County Building Official, or other designated representative, may review decisions, where information is incomplete, and/or in conflict with reality, or in error.

General requirements: Plans and structural analysis may be required for repairs. If pre-existing structure is in compliance with zoning, and structure is not located in a flood zone or it is elevated to the proper base flood elevation and there is no change in the use or occupancy and there will be no expansion the building may be repaired after obtaining the building permit; or the building must be brought into full compliance with all applicable codes: zoning, building and flood regulations. Development plan review may not be required. Building inspections are required prior to and during construction.


In an emergency it may be necessary to allow existing non-conforming uses to rebuild. The owner or applicant must contact the Zoning Administrator to determine if the structure is non-conforming. The owner is encouraged to bring the following information which will help streamline the permitting process:
(1) An official copy of building and as-built site plans that include overall size and dimensions of structure.
(2) Recent photographs of the structure that supply construction and appearance detail of the structure.


The County will continue collecting permit fees. If conditions warrant a review of this policy, recommendations will be presented to County Council.


(1) Beaufort County’s flood regulations requires that all pre-firm buildings (FEMA definition – a building for which construction or substantial improvement occurred on or before December 31, 1974, or before the effective date of an initial Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) located in the 100 year floodplain be elevated to the required Base Flood Elevation if the building sustains >50% damage of its market value.

(2) The replacement value is determined before the improvements are made to the structure.

(3) In cases where there are questions about the extent of damage or flood zone designation, the inspector will complete a FEMA substantial damage form to make the determination.


(1) Electrical and Gas Safety Inspection Procedures: all buildings with a damaged electric and/or gas meter, damaged electrical service weather head, and/or with water submersion inside of the structure up to the elevation of electrical receptacles, will require an electrical safety inspection prior to electrical service being restored.

(2) Gas lines in buildings that have experienced a fire must be inspected prior to gas service being restored.

(3) Stop work orders placards are to be conspicuously placed near utility meters that are not to be reconnected without prior inspection

(4) Records of structures deemed unsafe for utility reconnection are to be maintained and released to the applicable electrical or gas utility as quickly as possible after the determination is made.


(1) The Beaufort County Board of Appeals will handle disputes directly associated with disaster-related reconstruction and construction.

(2) The Board shall act on all matters arising from disputed issues. Likely areas of deliberation are: decisions related to degree of damage, new codes, flood plain issues, and other matters that may develop

(3) Additional responsibilities may be assigned to the Board to meet needs as they develop.

(4) The Board shall reach a decision by majority vote, minutes and all other meeting requirements will be met as the Board functions during a disaster, including: Open meeting requirements, accessibility requirements and Freedom of Information requirements.