How To Finish An Enclosed Space

Last updated Jun. 05, 2017 - 2:45 pm

Before you start construction to finish an enclosed space in your home, you must obtain the proper permits from the City of Raleigh. Permits are required whether you are doing the work yourself or employing a contractor.

The work also must pass inspection to ensure that the project complies with all applicable construction codes.

Feel free to contact a plans examiner at 919-996-2500 with any questions you may have regarding your project, permits, or the application process.


Certificate of Appropriateness if structure is in a historic district or designated as a Raleigh Historic Landmark.

Approvals or Permits Issued

  • Building
  • Electrical
  • Mechanical, heating and air conditioning
  • Plumbing, if installing a sink or toilet

Submittal Requirements

For same day processing, submit the documents listed below by 3:30 p.m. to the Litchford Road Satellite Office.

Application documents also may be submitted to the Development Services Customer Service Center, 1 Exchange Plaza, Raleigh, N.C. 27601.

Required Inspections

Construction inspections are required in the following order.


  • Framing inspection checks the walls, ceiling and floor joists and any other structural members installed.
  • Insulation inspection checks the insulation installed in walls, ceilings and floors to make sure it meets the energy code. Air barriers are also a consideration when finishing enclosed spaces.
  • Slab inspection is needed only when a slab floor is poured for completing a basement. Slabs require R-10 perimeter insulation.

Electrical, Mechanical and Plumbing

  • Rough-in inspections must be conducted before any wall, ceiling finish or building insulation is installed. This gives the inspector an opportunity to view work that will be hidden from view in the finished building, such as building framing, electrical wiring, plumbing, fire protection, and heating, ventilation and cooling systems. This inspection must be approved prior to scheduling the building framing inspection.


  • Final inspections must be conducted for each trade after all prerequisite inspections are approved, indicating completion of authorized work as determined by the technical codes.

How To Schedule An Inspection

  1. Call 919-996-2500 for staff assistance, or
  2. Use automated voice response system at 919-857-4412, or
  3. Visit Development Services Customer Service Center, Suite 400, One Exchange Plaza, 1 Exchange Plaza, Raleigh, NC 27601.

Have the permit number and project address when scheduling an inspection.

To keep a permit active, at least one inspection must be scheduled within 6 months of permit issuance.

An inspections scheduled out of sequence may result in the inspection being rejected and a re-inspection fee charged.

When a final inspection is scheduled, any pending inspections for that permit number will automatically be scheduled for the same date.

See field inspections for more information about inspections.


A code violation may result in an inspection status of "rejection." See Top 10 Inspection Rejection reasons listed by trade.

After the code violation is corrected, you may schedule a re-inspection.

A re-inspection fee must be paid before scheduling the re-inspection. You may pay the fee at the Development Services Customer Service Center or Litchford Road Satellite Office or by phone at 919-996-2500 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Please have the permit number, project address and credit card information available when you call.

To schedule a re-inspection, call a customer service representative at 919-996-2500 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or use the automated voice response system, available 24 hours per day, at 919-857-4412.

Additional Information

  • Plan the space before starting the project. Decide where phone jacks and electrical outlets will be needed. This will allow you to pre-wire the space to save time and effort.
  • Decide in advance whether to complete all or only part of the space. If completing only part of the space, a weather-rated door and weather stripping will be needed to close off the unfinished portion and regulate the temperature in the finished space.
  • Plan a safe means of exit from the room, or egress.
  • The number of windows required depends on how the space will be used. If windows will be a means of egress from a bedroom, they must be four square feet of clear and open space.
  • Make sure you have the required number and placement of smoke detectors. If an inspection is required inside your home, you may have to upgrade smoke detectors to meet current code standards. At least one smoke detector will be required in the attic or basement and one in the hallway or corridor leading in and out of the room. If the space is to be a bedroom, the smoke detector in the hallway must be within 15 feet of the room. A smoke detector is also required in the space on the floor below an attic. Detectors must be interconnected and hardwired. See Smoke Alarm Requirements.
  • Maximum rise of all stairs is 8' 1/4" with no more than 3/8" difference in each rise.
  • Hand rails for stairs must be between 34" and 38" per R311.7.71.
  • Minimum head room for stairs is 80".
  • A landing is required at the top and bottom of all stairs. The landing must be 36" deep and at least the width of the stairs.
  • Floors are required to have R-19 insulation. Walls must have R-15. Ceilings are required to have R-38 or R-30 uncompressed continuous. Insulation cannot be compressed and must be a certain thickness. If necessary, you may have to add wood to the rafters to accommodate the thickness of the insulation. If insulation is going to be left uncovered, do not use a paper face insulation because it is a potential fire hazard.
  • Remember to install lights with enough clearance from insulation to avoid a fire hazard.
  • Know the load of the floor joists, or how much weight the floor can hold, when finishing an attic. Proper load for an attic or basement bedroom is 30 pounds per square foot. If the room is to be a family room or office, the load is 40 pounds per square foot.
  • See Wood Decks - 2009 Appendix M and Deck Brochure.

Expected Processing Time

  • A permit for a project that qualifies for Same Day Permitting submitted by 3:30 pm.
  • Construction inspections are generally conducted the next business day after they are scheduled, unless requested otherwise.
  • Re-inspections will automatically be scheduled for the next business day after the payment has been processed, unless requested otherwise.


Next Steps


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