Opening a Business

Opening a business is both exciting and stressful. Here in Shaker, we want to make it as easy as possible.

First things first – follow this basic checklist to get started:

Renovating Your Space

Detailed plans prepared by a registered architect usually are required for exterior and interior building renovations. The more detailed and complete your plans, the more smoothly the process will go.

Exterior Renovations

  • Exterior renovations require two types of approvals: approval by the Architectural Board of Review (ABR) and approval by the Building Department. Meet with the Planning Department, which oversees the ABR, to review your project before you enlist a licensed architect to prepare building plans for the project. The Planning Department will provide you with a packet to help you prepare for the ABR and recommend whether you should pursue Building Department approval along with ABR approval
  • The ABR, which meets twice a month, reviews plans to ensure that they comply with the architectural standards of the City of Shaker Heights. The Board reviews all exterior changes, signage and architectural details.
  • The Building Department ensures plans meet the Ohio Building and Fire Code. In most cases, the Building Department will require three sets of plans completed by a registered architect and the plans will be sent out for external review. If the plans are complete and require no questions, clarifications, or alterations, the review should take two weeks. The Building Department will contact the person who submitted the plans when they are approved.
  • Periodic inspections will occur during the construction process, depending on the complexity of the project.
  • Call for a final inspection when the project is completed in order to receive the Business License (Certificate of Occupancy).

Before you finalize your plans, email the Building Department or call at 216-491-1460.

Interior Renovations

  • Interior renovations require review by the Building Department only.
  • Make an appointment to meet with the Building Department to determine the feasibility of your project and to determine how detailed your plans will need to be.
  • During this initial meeting, Building will work with the Planning Department to confirm that your use is permitted in the commercial district.
  • The building permit application will, in most instances, require three sets of plans prepared by a licensed architect. The plans will be sent to an outside plans examiner for review. If the plans are complete and require no clarifications, the review period should be two weeks. The two week time frame will not apply if the examiner requests additional information or has questions about the plans. The Building Department will contact the person who submitted the plans when they are approved.
  • Periodic inspections will occur during the construction process, depending on the complexity of the project.

Commercial Property Inspection

If the business use is approved for the location you’ve chosen, then a commercial occupancy inspection of the property will be scheduled. At this time, the Fire and Health Departments will be notified so that inspections can also be arranged. If either department identifies any specific code issues, then a written notice with a 30-day compliance period will be issued.

A Business License (Commercial Occupancy Permit) will be issued upon compliance. You may find it advantageous to contact the Fire Department directly ahead of time if you have any questions or concerns regarding fire safety issues.

If you have any issues, questions, or concerns, contact the Economic Development staff at 216-491-1334.