Plans & Permits: Wondering what the sign permit process is all about?

11 October, 2023 by Mallory Lynn

Learn about the Signage Permitting Process with this FAQ guide.
Q: Is a permit required for an exterior business sign in Colorado?
A: Yes, a sign permit is required. The permit process does ensure your sign legally meets zoning and building ordinances as well as safety standards. You can be fined if you do not have a permit.

Q: How long does the sign permit process take?
A: Most cities, counties and jurisdictions typically take about two to four weeks. In some cities such as Denver, the zoning department needs to review the application. You will want the permit approved before starting fabrication of the sign.

Q: I need a business sign earlier. What do I do?
A: We can help you with temporary signage such as banners, window posters, or sidewalk signs (such as A-Frames and Sandwich boards) so customers can locate your business. Because changes in sign size and location may occur (and sometimes do) you will want the permit to be approved before we begin fabrication of the sign. In some cases, permits will be required for temporary signs and usually, there is a specific time limit for the temporary signage. Often the time limit is 90 days to 6 months for these types of signs.

Q: What’s a typical process for a sign permit to be approved?
A: Unfortunately, the permit process varies widely among towns. Your neighbor across the street can have different regulations due to zoning. Every city and town has different requirements and processes because it’s a local jurisdiction. Regulations can, also, change as cities and counties update their permit requirements.

Processes can be cumbersome and lengthy. For instance, some cities require a zoning application to be approved before a building and electrical application can be submitted. Some will require a person to hand-deliver the paperwork and wait for a reference number.

Q: When do you start the permit process?
A: We start once you approve the sign design, authorize the quote, and provide a half down payment on the project.

Q: What’s needed for the permit process and what information do you need from me?
A: When you approve the sign design, we will contact you to request the documents needed. Permits require all or some of these documents:

  • The property owner’s signed approval

  • A licensed surveyor’s site plan. The document is usually needed for freestanding signs. You can retrieve a copy from the property owner.

  • Stamped plans by a licensed engineer. This plan is required by many towns for certain types of signs that are over 6 feet tall.

  • A special committee review application (such as planning board or special improvement district)

  • A zoning application form

  • A building and electrical application form. If the sign is illuminated, electrical approval is needed.

  • Your sign’s drawings and schematics provided by Signarama

After we receive these items, we prepare the paperwork for the application. We email or hand-deliver to the jurisdiction needed.

Q: I’ve heard the process of granting permission to put up a business sign can be tricky, tiresome and aggravating. Is this true? Why?
A: Yes, it can be. The permit process usually proceeds in a timely fashion. With 14 years of extensive experience dealing with Colorado state laws and regulations regarding signs, we know to expect the unexpected. If you’re unfamiliar with the process, you may grow frustrated. Interpreting the ordinances is not always straightforward. Some ordinances are clear, concise and understandable for the general reader — but some are confusing. We review ordinances regularly, but occasionally, we learn we have misinterpreted the rules and need to alter the application.

The tiresome part? Although the ordinances are in written form, there is the matter of interpretation by the zoning officer. That’s not foreseeable. You’re at the whim of the zoning officer’s interpretation that may or may not be negotiable.

We help you avoid these aggravations by handling the permit process for you.

Q: What are some factors that can affect the permit process?
A: Additional review processes. In some cities and counties, review boards and committees such as historical commissions require previewing permit applications. The procedure is separate from the permit process and can extend the lead time. For instance, the historical district of Brighton, Denver and Golden have an architectural review board. During the board meeting, members preview the sign application and often provide comments, additions and changes to the proposal.
Sign variance process. When a customer wants exceptions to the sign code, a sign variance can be requested. The process has higher fees and can take several months.

Q: Do you handle the permit process?
A: Yes, we do. And that’s a relief! By handling the permits on such a large scale, we’ve refined our system to present the information that meets board members’ preferences. We research your municipality’s ordinances to ensure your sign project meets all relevant requirements and codes. Armed with familiarity with a jurisdiction’s requirements, we know how to complete applications thoroughly.

Because of the excellent rapport we’ve built upon in our business areas, you will experience a smoother process of obtaining permits in a timely fashion than if you did it yourself. We handle the laborious paperwork for you.​​​​​​​ When you work with Signarama Brighton you only need to approve the design, pay for the sign, and let us take care of the rest. We will continually communicate and update you on the progress of your permit.​​​​​​

Q: Once the sign is installed, what happens?
A: Our technicians post a permit placard on the property. This may go in the window of an existing building, or at the monument sign site. Once installed, we call for the final inspection. In the case of pylon or ground signs, where a foundation is required, there will be multiple inspections.

For more check out our 411 on Sign Permitting Video:

Signarama Brighton, CO
1289 S 4th Ave Ste 200
Brighton Colorado 80601

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