Summer Project Season

It‘s summer project season, and we’ve had a lot of questions about what projects require a permit. We recently updated some of our ordinances, so requirements may be different than previous years. We’ve tried our best to answer the most common questions, but feel free to call the Building Department with any additional questions you may have.  Please check out the City’s online permit portal for permit information and handouts at

Does a swimming pool require a permit? It depends on the pool. If the pool is 24 inches deep or less, you do not need a permit or an inspection. If the pool is capable of holding more than 24 inches of water, you do need a permit. You also need a 4 foot, non-climbable barrier, and the pool has to be located in the rear yard, out of any easements.  There are a few other requirements for the barrier and electric as well.

Does a shed require a permit? If the shed is over 40 square feet, you do need a permit. If it is 40 square feet or less you do not need a permit, but you still have to comply with City Ordinance and Zoning requirements. Per Altoona City Ordinance, you may have one shed (160 square feet or less) and one detached garage (161 – 1,000 square feet.) The shed must be located in the rear yard, out of easements, 6 feet away from your house, and 3 feet off the property line.

Does a fence require a permit? If you have an existing fence, and you’re just replacing a few panels as routine maintenance, you do not need a permit. If you’re replacing your current fence or installing a new fence, you do need a permit. Call the Building Department and we would be happy to help you figure out the location and any restrictions you may have.

Does a deck require a permit? If you’re just replacing walking surface, it’s considered deck maintenance and does not require a permit. If you’re installing railing, stairs, or a new deck, you do need a permit. You will also need footing, framing, and final inspections. With your application, please include a detailed drawing including dimensions, support sizes and locations, railings, stairs, etc.  We also need a site plan showing location of deck and distance from property line as we need to check setbacks.

Please note, you are required to have a permit issued before beginning any work. If you have any questions, please give the Building Department a call at (515) 957-5128 or email us at