An often overlooked aspect of having a sign made is the permitting process, which can cause BIG issues — either while the sign is being built or, worse, after the sign has been installed. If the sign has already been installed, but is being refurbished (ex: refacing the letters on an exterior wall sign), a permit may not be required. However, if the structure of the sign is being changed, a permit will most likely be needed. If it’s a new sign, you’ll also need a permit. Here are a few pointers on where and how to obtain a sign permit:
Where is the sign located? Counties, towns, and districts vary on permit requirements and costs. Begin by submitting your address to your local municipality to determine the jurisdiction.
Do you own the building or lease? If the building is leased, a letter from the landlord, permitting installation of a sign by the named sign provider, will be necessary.
Site plans, elevation drawings, and a layout of the sign on the building are prerequisites to obtaining a new sign permit. The owner of the building should have copies of the site plan and elevation drawings; however, they’re usually available at the local assessor’s office. The sign provider should produce the layout.
The time needed to procure a permit varies, but is usually 2–4 weeks. The cost of a permit will vary as well. For example, in Plainfield, Indiana, a wall sign will incur a $32 filing fee and a $50 permit fee, plus, $1 per square foot. A pole sign is $32, $300, and $1 per square foot.*
* rates are subject to change.
The permit process for signage can be confusing, time consuming, and expensive, but we can help. If you’d like more information, contact us — we’re happy to share our knowledge and advice.