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Construction site requirements

Builders in Philadelphia must ensure that construction job sites meet certain operational and safety requirements.

Permit posting

All construction permits issued by the L&I must be posted and visible on construction sites at all times. The permits must be current and within the scope of work.

If construction work or materials encroach on a public sidewalk or street, the contractor must also get a street closure permit and post it.

Work site signs

All construction projects that affect the exterior of a building need a project information panel or project information signs.

Project information panel

The owner must make a large project information panel for:

  • New construction or demolition of a building more than three stories tall, or with an average roof height more than 40 ft. above grade.
  • New construction or demolition of a building that covers 10,000 sq. ft. or more.
  • Work performed more than 40 ft. above grade, or above the third story, that affects the exterior of a building.
  • Review the Project information panel: Requirements for major building fact sheet for complete information.

Project information sign

All other construction or demolition projects need a project information sign, except:

  • Work limited to plumbing, electrical, mechanical, or fire suppression installation.
  • Interior work limited to non-structural alterations.

The contractor or owner must complete, print, and post an L&I project sign template. The sign must be printed in color on letter size paper. See the Project information sign fact sheet (non-major projects) for more information.

Protecting pedestrians and adjoining properties

Public walkways must be protected in accordance with L&I and Department of Streets regulations. Depending on the work and location, this may include construction site fencing, shelter platforms, directional barricades, and sidewalk/street closures. Permits from L&I and the Department of Streets are required.

Public and private properties must be protected during construction, remodeling, and demolition, including shoring and underpinning work in accordance with Code Bulletin B-0503-R2. Contractors must protect the footings, foundations, party walls, chimneys, skylights, and roofs of the adjoining properties.

If the contractors or equipment will move within 10 feet of a power line during the work, contractors must contact PECO.

Fire watch for combustible buildings

Buildings under construction are often vulnerable to fire. A fire watch must be put in place during off-hours when a building that’s under construction reaches a height of 40 feet.

A fire watch is no longer required once a building’s fire protection systems have been installed and certified.

Fire site safety plan

Developers and building owners for new construction projects must create a fire site safety plan. The plan must describe how the fire watch will be conducted and other fire safety information.

  • If your new construction permit is issued on or after November 1, 2020:
    • Upload your fire site safety plan through eCLIPSE before the initial inspection.
    • See the how-to guide on resolving a permit hold for instructions on how to submit the plan.
    • A review of the fire site safety plan will be part of your initial meeting with a construction inspector at the start of the project.
  • If your new construction permit is issued before November 1, 2020:
    • The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) may notify you that a fire watch is required.
    • By December 1, 2020, you must use eCLIPSE to upload a fire site safety plan or a certification that the height of the building, excluding any rooftop access structure, is less than 40 feet above ground level.

Conducting the fire watch

A fire watch must observe all parts of a property every 30 minutes. In multi-story buildings, there must be at least one person on fire watch for every five floors. The fire watch must be documented in daily fire watch logs. You must make logs available to inspectors on request.

For more information on the fire watch requirement, see the Fire Watch During Construction and Demolition code bulletin and the Construction Site Fire Watch information sheet.

Trash and debris

Contractors can’t allow garbage to accumulate at any construction site. This includes the interior of the structure and the surrounding area.

Contractors and residents must dispose of construction debris through a private hauler. Waste materials from construction or remodeling cannot be put out for trash collection, including:

  • Wood.
  • Metal.
  • Ceramics.
  • Drywall.
  • Demolition materials.

Construction debris must be hauled to an approved waste collection site and contractors must keep tipping receipts for at least three years.

Construction dumpsters must be licensed. If a dumpster blocks the right-of-way, the contractor must have a street closure permit.

Dust control

A dust control permit is required for certain construction, demolition, and earth disturbance work.