What is the building plan review? Does my project require it?

Most building projects require a plan review. Per state codes, both residential and commercial projects require a plan review to ensure that the proposed work conforms to the building codes. Plans are reviewed by the building code plans examiner; depending on the scope of the project, plans may also be reviewed by the Planning Department, Fire Department, Public Works Department, and the City Engineer. Once an approval is granted and the fees have been paid, the permits will be issued, authorizing construction to begin. Please note:

  • Plans and re-submissions are reviewed in the order in which they’re received.
  • Per state code, each plan review submission will take 30 days or less. The scope and scale of the project influence the time required for review. 
  • Residential alterations are typically reviewed within three to five business days.
  • New homes, substantial additions, site changes, and all commercial plans typically take between 10 and 20 business days.

Learn More about Plan Reviews

The plan review process depends on the type of project. Projects that affect only the interior of an existing structure require review only by the Department of Building & Housing. Projects that affect the exterior of the structure — including new construction and projects affecting both the interior and exterior (i.e. additions) — require an additional review by the Architectural Board of Review (ABR). Specifically:

Exterior & New Construction Projects

Any modifications or additions to the exterior of a building (residential or commercial) and all new construction projects require review and approval by the Architectural Board of Review (ABR) before being reviewed for code compliance by the Department of Building & Housing.

The ABR’s review ensures changes to the exterior appearance of buildings in Shaker Heights maintain the high standard of architectural quality in the community. The Planning Department manages this process for the ABR. 

Please also note:

  • Certain exterior changes, such as commonly installed types of fences, can be approved by staff in the Planning Department. Please call the Planning Department at 216-491-1430 to inquire about your project.
  • Not all projects going before the ABR are approved at the first meeting, and you may need to appear before the board a second or third time. You’ll want to be sure to take the timing of the ABR meeting dates into consideration when planning your project.

Get started with the Architectural Board of Review process.


Alterations to the interior only of a building (residential or commercial) require a plan review by only the Department of Building & Housing. Certain projects, such as concrete work, repaving, roofs, fences, hot water heaters, HVAC, and other simple projects can be submitted without plans and are typically approved on the spot, provided proper documentation is included. If you are unsure if your project requires plans, please call us at 216-491-1461.

You must submit a Building Permit Application to initiate the plan review process with the Department of Building & Housing.

In order to ensure a thorough and timely review of your Building Permit Application, please make sure your plans meet the minimum requirements. Three sets of drawings are required. All commercial plans must be stamped by a state registered design professional. View minimum residential plan requirements.

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1. What is the building plan review? Does my project require it?
2. Do I need to submit drawings for my project? Do I need to hire an architect?