Change of Use

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Understanding Change of Use Defining Change of Use and Occupancy Need help? Schedule a 20-minute appointment Obtaining a Change of Use Permit Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding Change of Use

A Change of Use (COU) permit is a way to document changes to a building’s previous use or occupancy classification. Even if no physical changes are planned, a permit is required to document this change.

Defining Change of Use and Occupancy

Change of Use (Zoning):

A change of use refers to a change in business activity or operations for which a particular building or a portion of a building was previously permitted for. This change requires permit approval from the Planning and Development Department. Examples of zoning changes of uses include converting a restaurant into a grocery store, transforming a hair salon into bar, or repurposing a church into a gym.

Change of Occupancy (Building):

A change in the use of the building or a portion of a building. A change of occupancy shall include any change of occupancy classification, any change from one group to another group within an occupancy classification or any change in use within a group for a specific occupancy classification.

It's essential to note that while building occupancy is regulated by the North Carolina Building Code, zoning uses are governed by the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).

Need help? Schedule a 20-minute appointment

  • Is your business planning to move into a new space? 
  • Are you about to sign a lease for a new space?
  • Are you questioning your business’ use? 

Schedule a 20-minute virtual meeting with a Zoning and Building reviewer.

During the virtual meeting staff can help you to learn if:

  • The proposed use is allowed at the location.
  • There will be a change in use and/or occupancy.
  • Additional building or zoning documents are required .

Obtaining a Change of Use Permit

For commercial Change of Use permits, visit the Commercial Permits: New Buildings, Additions, and Change of Use webpage for submittal instructions.

For residential Change of Use permits, visit the How to Get a Residential Permit webpage for additional information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long will it take to receive a COU permit?

A: Visit the Development Review Turnaround Times webpage for information.

Q: How much will a COU cost? 

A: The Development Fee Guide provides a detailed list of specific development fees.  You can also use the fee calculator for an estimate of building and trade permit fees.

Q: Do I need a COU if I'm not making any changes to the building or space? 

A: Yes, a COU is required to document the old and new occupancy/use, even if no physical work is planned.

Q: Are any inspections required? 

A: Depending on the scope of work being performed building inspections may be required. However, if there is a change in the use then a zoning site final inspection to be performed even if there is no work being performed. 

Q: Will I receive a certificate of occupancy? 

A: Depending on the scope of work a certificate of occupancy or certificate of completion will be issued.



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