How to renovate a commercial building in Tiffin, OH

Guide ContactsThis is a general guide and there may be variations in each project. Contact the Downtown Development Coordinator for guidance throughout the process (see Contacts).

1. Obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness

  • Request a Preliminary Review from the City Engineer at the next ABR meeting. There are no formal submission requirements for a preliminary review.
  • Fill out a one-page “Certificate of Appropriateness” application and submit to the Downtown Development Coordinator.
  • Present your Project at the scheduled ABR meeting and answer questions from the board to obtain a decision.

2. Determine What Approvals or Permits Are Required to Occupy a Building Prior to Beginning Work

  • Contact Tiffin’s Downtown Development Coordinator for all incentives and coordination.
  •  Contact Richland County Building Regulations to speak with a Plans Examiner or Building Official for planning assistance.Note: Richland County can advise whether building approvals or permits are required for any work or changes in occupancy of the building or structure. They can assist you with a building walk-through, phone conferences and a review of preliminary sketches to advise what drawings or permits may be necessary. They can also advise whether or not plans need to be prepared by an Ohio Registered Architect or Engineer.
  •  Refer to Richland County’s Existing Structures Occupancy Packet to determine if your project will ONLY require a Certificate of Occupancy.There are 5 situations outlined starting on p.1 of the packet, which is is available on Richland County’s website under ‘Commercial Plans.’
  • Contact Tiffin Fire Department to  determine what fire code requirements may apply to the existing structure, any changes in use/occupancy, or any alterations that are proposed to the building.
  •  Contact the City Engineer’s Office regarding zoning, building, and sign regulations. The zoning permit, along with other documents listed in Step 4, will need to be submitted to Richland County to obtain approval and permits.Note: Richland County is willing to walk through buildings with the Owner, Designer, and/or Contractor to discuss required documents for potential projects.

3. Develop Building Plans

  • For Normal Building Maintenance such as painting or carpeting, no plans are necessary.
  • For Alterations Where the Building Footprint Does NOT Change, construction documents are required. Depending on the scope of work, plans and construction documents may need to be prepared and sealed by an Ohio Registered Design Professional (Architect or Engineer).
  • If you need a Food Service Permit, fill out and submit plans and application to  the Seneca County Health Department. See “How to Start a Food BusinessNote: All electrical, HVAC, hydronics, plumbing or refrigeration work must be must be performed by a contractor licensed by the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board. All automatic sprinkler, fire alarm, and fire suppression work (including repairs and maintenance) must be performed by an individual licensed by the Ohio State Fire Marshall.

4. Obtain Required Permits and Approvals

  • Obtain a Zoning Permit from the City of Tiffin.
  • Obtain a Building Permit from Richland County. The permit or approval may be issued for multiple scopes of work such as building/structural, electrical, mechanical, fire alarm/suppression and exterior signs. Each project may have different scopes of work, the process is dependent upon the overall scope of work. Projects may be submitted separately, but this can extend or delay the approval and inspection process.
  • Submit two sets of plans, application fees, zoning permit and paperwork to Richland County to have on record for the building permit. It should take approximately 10 business days to review the application, the Richland will advise if any additional information is required and may be able to partially approve if the plans are missing or deficient.
  • OR call Richland County to schedule walk through plan approval. An Appointment must be requested prior to submitting the application and documents.
  • Obtain a Plumbing Permit from the Erie County Health Department. This usually takes two weeks.Note: Forms and more information can be found at www.richlandcountyoh.us under “Forms and Documents”

5. Begin Construction

6. Schedule Inspections

  • Fire and Life Safety | Tiffin Fire Department 419.448.5448
  • Structural Mechanical & Electrical Compliance | Richland County 419.774.5517
  • Plumbing Compliance | Erie County Scott Thom 419.626.5623 ext.206
  • Food Service Compliance (if needed) | Seneca County Health Department Nicki Rumschlag 419.447.3691 ext.348

7. Receive Permission to Occupy the Building

Note: In many cases in downtown Tiffin, an occupancy permit will be necessary. They are typically issued within five days after the required inspections are completed and all documents received by Richland County. The packet can be found at www.richlandcountyoh.us under “Forms and Documents.”

  • Obtain Final Life Safety Occupancy Inspection from the Tiffin Fire Department.
  • Obtain Certificate of Use and Occupancy from Richland County.Note: There are other agencies in the State that may need a copy of the Certificate of Use and Occupancy for licensing purposes. Beauty/nail/ tanning salons may be regulated by the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology. Child care occupancies may be licensed by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Services. Healthcare related occupancies may be regulated by the Ohio Department of Health.

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