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What is a Certificate of Occupancy?

A Certificate of Occupancy is a document issued by a local building department certifying a building's compliance with applicable building codes and other laws, and indicating it to be in a condition suitable for occupancy.

The purpose of obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy is to prove that, according to the law, the structure is suitable to be occupied for its intended purpose. Generally, such a certificate is necessary to be able to occupy the structure for everyday use, as well as to be able to sign a contract to sell the space and close on a mortgage for the space. A Certificate of Occupancy is evidence that the building complies substantially with the plans and specifications that have been submitted to, and approved by, the local authority. It complements a building permit—a document that must be filed by the applicant with the local authority before construction to indicate that the proposed construction will adhere to ordinances, codes and laws.

If planned construction is creating a new building, or will result in a change of use, egress, or occupancy to an existing building, a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy is necessary. Usually, the contractor's or owner's representative contacts the Department to arrange for its inspectors to perform the necessary construction, mechanical, plumbing and electrical inspections.

A new building cannot be legally occupied until a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued.

Excerpts from the Florida Building Code and the City of Cape Canaveral Code of Ordinances

Florida Building Code Sec. 111.1 Use and occupancy. A building or structure shall not be used or occupied, and a change in the existing use of occupancy classification of a building or structure or portion thereof shall not be made, until the building official has issued a Certificate of Occupancy therefor as provided herein. Issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy shall not be construed as an approval of a violation of the provisions of this code or of other ordinances of the jurisdiction.

Florida Building Code Sec. 111.2 Certificate issued. After the building official inspects the building or structure and does not find no violations of the provisions of this code or other laws that are enforced by the department of building safety, the building official shall issue a Certificate of Occupancy.

City of Cape Canaveral Code of Ordinances Sec. 110-121. No building or structure shall be used or occupied, and no change in the existing occupancy classification of a building or structure or portion thereof shall be made until the building official has issued a Certificate of Occupancy therefor.  Issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy shall not be construed as an approval of a violation of the provisions of the city code or any other applicable law. If issuance of such certificate is refused, the building official shall state such refusal in writing with the reason. A temporary Certificate of Occupancy may be issued by the building official for a period not exceeding six months during alterations or partial occupancy of a building pending its completion, provided that such temporary certificate may require such conditions and safeguards as will protect the safety of the occupants and the public.

(Code 1981, § 645.07; Ord. No. 05-2006, § 2, 6-20-06)

Do I need a Certificate of Occupancy?

If you have a home, a business or any other type of structure which is regulated by the building code, Yes. How do I find out if a Certificate of Occupancy has already been issued for my building? Check your ownership documents or contact the building department at (321) 868-1222.

When is a Certificate of Occupancy required?

A Certificate of Occupancy is required before any new building or structure can be occupied, or before an existing building can be used for a new purpose (for example, retail space converted to a school). FBC Fifth Edition (2014) Sec. 111.1 Use and Occupancy.

If the use of the building changes, a new Certificate of Occupancy may be required (depending on the type of change). This type of certificate is issued when all of the requirements for the occupancy are completed, and it does not have an expiration date. Contact the building department at (321) 868-1222 if you have any questions about when a new certificate is necessary.

How do I obtain a Certificate of Occupancy for a new structure?

  • A new structure will require a building permit.  Complete all necessary work covered by the permit. Call us to request the inspections as indicated on your permit.
  • At the final inspection, we will schedule a building inspector (and a fire inspector if it is commercial or multi-family) to perform your inspection.
  • Meet the inspector(s) at the site for the inspection. Make sure the approved drawings and the permit are on site. If the inspection fails, the inspector(s) will inform the contractor or owner of code requirements that must be met before s/he can approve the final inspection.
  • Fill out a Certificate of Occupancy application. They are available on this website, at our front counter or call us and we will fax one to you. When complete, you can fax, mail or drop it off at the building department.
  • After the inspector(s) approve the final inspection, they will sign the Certificate of Occupancy application. After a completion review, the Building Official signs and issues the certificate to the owner (or his/her representative). 

How do I Obtain a Certificate of Occupancy for a change of use of an existing structure?

  • Contact the building department, because most “changes of use” require a building permit. 
  • Complete all necessary work covered by the permit. Call us to request the inspections as indicated on your permit.
  • At the final inspection, we will schedule both a building inspector and a fire inspector to perform your inspection.
  • Meet the inspectors at the site for the inspection. Make sure the approved drawings and the permit are on site. If the inspection fails, the inspectors will inform the contractor or owner of code requirements that must be met before s/he can approve the final inspection.
  • Fill out a Certificate of Occupancy application. They are available on this website\, at our front counter or call us and we will fax one to you. When complete, you can fax, mail or drop it off at the building department.
  • After the inspectors approve the final inspection, they will sign the Certificate of Occupancy application. After a completion review, the Building Official signs and issues the certificate to the owner (or his/her representative).
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