The Certificate of Occupancy is a document that provides authorization from the local government for a building to be used as a public edifice or as a private residence. The purpose of the certificate is to provide verification that the building is in full compliance with current building codes, and is safe for occupancy.
This type of certificate is issued whenever a new building is constructed within the city limits of the local government. In some cases, a building that is constructed in an outlying area of a county or parish may also require a Certificate of Occupancy before the facility can actually be occupied or otherwise utilized by people. Inspections are conducted to ensure that the basic construction, wiring, plumbing, and other elements of the building are up to code, and can be certified as being safe for occupation.
When additions or construction upgrades to existing buildings are made, the building owner is often required to obtain a new Certificate of Occupancy from the local government once the changes are complete. As with new buildings, each aspect of the edifice will be inspected to ensure that all elements meet local specifications. Once the inspection is complete and the building department or inspection unit signs off on the building, the certificate will be issued.
When professionals are used to build the new edifice or make changes to existing buildings, it is usually the function of the renovator to notify the local government that the property is ready for inspection, and make arrangements for the issuance of the certificate. Once the builder has the document in hand, copies are delivered to the owner, as well as kept in the files of the construction company. Lenders may also obtain copies of the certificates, in the event that the property is presented as collateral on a loan application. Many lenders will not approve the extension of the loan without receiving a copy of the Certificate of Occupancy.