The Permit Rules New Jersey Sets in Stone

A permit covers customers and contractors

The importance of a permit in excavation and contraction goes beyond due process. It’s a hallmark of respect for proper channels and of a contractor’s care for their reputation, the quality of their work, and the safety of their clients. Here’s how New Jersey does it by the book.


Commercial or residential excavation is an intricate process with a lot riding on it. Pipes and electrical materials run underground so precision and expertise are essential. Digging, breaking, tunneling, and depositing of excavated material require an application for a permit from the City Engineer and includes:

  • The name and address of the applicant
  • The location and dimensions of the excavation
  • The purpose of the excavation
  • The estimated dates of commencement, completion, and restoration of the excavation, which in no case will exceed a period of six months from date of application
  • Such other data as may reasonably be required by the City Engineer

From there, it takes a focused contractor to account for the many responsibilities of excavation like environmental concerns, trench shoring, and waste disposal.

Construction jobs require a full permit and an inspection

The Uniform Construction Code (UCC) sets the rules for which NJ construction projects require a permit. There are several examples of minor work which require a permit, but due to their lesser nature that permit can be obtained at any time during the work. This list of low-level work is typically still subject to inspection and certification of compliance from the UCC.

The UCC provides statewide uniformity in the process of obtaining construction permits. While issued at the municipal level, the procedure is the same no matter what municipality you work in. One way this intent is met is by using standardized forms that all municipalities are required and/or have an option to use.

Bigger jobs require more complex permissions, and an NJ contractor may be looking at a 12-step application process dependent on the nature of the construction work. Every application for a permit requires multiple versions be submitted. The Department of Community Affairs then requires contractors to submit a plan review fee schedule.

Some of those fees are flat, others are project dependent and some are set by the ordinance of the township. An NJ construction permit can be processed in two weeks, which is again partly dependent on the nature of the project. The same document highlights state law as to what documents must accompany a construction permit:

  • Two copies of clearly detailed plans
  • Construction plans detailing such factors as foundations, floor plans, and elevation
  • Cross sections
  • Electrical/plumbing/mechanical details

The ordinance in Wyckoff is one example of how the permit process may vary throughout the state. They require storm water management approval before beginning certain residential construction work along with a $500 review fee. Most importantly, they state that any work done without a permit will have fines imposed; up to $2000 in some cases.

Some NJ contracting jobs no longer require a permit

There were some changes as of May this year on the NJ contracting front (you can check the full list of updates here). The new ruling applies to lighter jobs than construction or excavation, but it’s certainly of interest to everyone in the sector.  If this kind of legislative change catches on in New Jersey, construction and excavation may find aspects of their work downgraded to “no permit required.”

On the upside, it does make things quicker for contractors to start their work by sidestepping the permit process. As this article highlights, however, it’s not all great if this becomes a precedent. No permits mean no inspections and without those, contractors aren’t held as accountable.

A permit is more than paperwork: it’s a sanction by the state and a sign that a contractor respects the proper channels. No permits places increased responsibility for work quality squarely onto the shoulders of private and public customers. It will be up to them to check up on the contractor they’ve hired to see if they’re worth the investment. Hiring a licensed, experienced contractor will eliminate that kind of worry.

Fully licensed and over 70 years in the trade

At Mikula Contracting, we’re fully certified and licensed throughout the state of New Jersey and bring decades of industry experience to every job. Best practice is at the heart of our operation and we prove it by OSHA-certifying our team for safety and respecting our community and environment through our EPA license.

As a customer, you deserve to know the contractor you’ve chosen takes their duty to you 100% seriously. We’re here to provide construction and excavation services you can trust!


Mikula Contracting, Inc. provides commercial and residential customers with a wide range of excavation, demolition, environmental, snow removal, trucking and soil materials services. For more information, call 973-772-1684 or email

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