Understanding the Importance of Building Permits: Who Needs Them and Why

Building permits are a critical component of any construction project. They are required by law, and ensure that buildings are constructed safely and in compliance with local regulations.
In this blog post, we will explore the importance of building permits, who needs them, and why they are necessary for any construction project.

What are Building Permits?

Building permits are official documents that authorize the construction, alteration, demolition, or occupancy of a building or structure. They are issued by the relevant authorities in accordance with the building codes and regulations that apply to the specific location and type of project. Building permits ensure that the proposed work meets the minimum standards of safety, health, accessibility, and environmental protection.

But who needs to obtain a building permit and why is it important? In this blog post, we will answer these questions.

Who Needs a Building Permit?

According to the Physical and Land Use Planning Act 2019 (PLUPA), any person who intends to carry out any development activity on any land in Kenya must apply for and obtain development permission from the respective county government. Development activity includes any building operation or engineering operation or change of use of land or building.

Therefore, if you are planning to construct a new building or structure, extend or renovate an existing one, convert a garage into a living space, install a swimming pool or fence, demolish a building or structure, change the use of a building or land (e.g. from residential to commercial), you will need to apply for a building permit.

There are some exceptions to this rule, such as minor repairs and maintenance works that do not affect the structural integrity or safety of the building. However, it is always advisable to consult with your local authority before starting any work on your property to avoid any penalties or legal issues.

Why is a Building Permit Important?

Obtaining a building permit has several benefits for both the property owner and the public. Some of these benefits are:

  • It ensures that your project complies with the relevant laws and regulations that govern land use planning and development in Kenya. This protects you from potential lawsuits or disputes with your neighbours or other stakeholders who may be affected by your project.
  • It ensures that your project is designed and constructed according to the best practices and standards of architecture and engineering. This enhances the quality, functionality, and aesthetics of your project as well as its durability and resilience.
  • It ensures that your project is inspected and approved by qualified professionals who verify that it meets the minimum requirements of safety, health, accessibility, and environmental protection. This reduces the risks of accidents, injuries, diseases, or damages that may result from faulty design or construction.
  • It adds value to your property as it serves as proof that your project is legal and authorized by the relevant authority. This facilitates future transactions such as selling, leasing, or mortgaging your property as well as obtaining insurance coverage.
  • It contributes to sustainable development by ensuring that your project does not adversely affect the natural resources, ecosystems, and communities around it. It also promotes social equity by ensuring that your project does not discriminate against any group of people based on their gender, age, disability or other factors.

How Can EDG & Atelier Architects Help You?

At EDG & Atelier Architects, we have extensive experience in designing and delivering various types of projects across different sectors in Kenya. We have successfully obtained building permits for our clients from various county governments such as Nairobi City County, Kiambu County, Mombasa County, Nakuru County, among others.

We offer comprehensive services throughout all stages of your project from feasibility studies, concept design, detailed design, tender documentation, construction supervision, handover, post occupancy evaluation. We also assist you in obtaining all necessary approvals from other relevant authorities such as National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), National Construction Authority (NCA), Kenya Power, etc.

We work closely with you to understand your needs, preferences, budget, and timeline. We then create innovative solutions that meet your expectations while complying with all applicable laws


In conclusion, building permits are essential for any construction project in Kenya. They ensure that the building is constructed safely, in compliance with local regulations, and to the required standards.
Failure to obtain a building permit can result in legal and financial repercussions, including fines, stop-work orders, or even demolition of the building.
Therefore, it is crucial to obtain a building permit before starting any construction work to avoid any legal and financial repercussions.

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