DEPARTMENT OF
  Inspections and 
  Permits

Developers review building plans Building under construction Construction work taking place Building inspector looks over construction work

Starting a Business

Cary is the place for businesses of all sizes, from international corporations to the smallest start-ups. We want your business opening to go as smoothly as possible.

If you’re unfamiliar with Town procedures, we’ll guide you through getting the appropriate permits and approvals. Below find information to point you in the right direction.


Before Buying Property or Signing a Lease

Request zoning verification to ensure that a lot or building meets Town requirements and that it is zoned for how you intend to use it. ($125 fee; allow 2 weeks)

Although we don’t require them, zoning verification inspections alert you to things that don’t meet the approved plan for the site such as landscaping, parking or exterior building colors.

Contact Planning Department at (919) 462-3885.


Locating in a New or Renovated Building


You’ll need site plan approval to build or to make exterior changes to the property. Changes include landscaping, parking, lighting, building colors, etc. A site plan is required before any construction.

ContactPlan Review and Design (Planning Department) at (919) 319-4583

After getting site plan approval, obtain a building permit to begin construction or renovation, inside or outside.

What we’ll need with your permit application before scheduling an inspection:

  • A building permit application
  • A Building Code Summary.
  • A floor plan of the space to be occupied, drawn to scale, showing and identifying each room, bathrooms, doorways, exits, reception areas, etc.
  • An overall building plan, drawn to scale, that clearly identifies the name, address, and type of business for each tenant space.

Please submit four copies of the Building Code Summary, floor plan, and building plan for most projects. Five copies are required for projects reviewed by Wake County Environmental Services (Health Department), such as food services and certain day care facilities.

ContactInspections & Permits Department at (919) 469-4043.


Locating a New Tenant in an Existing Building with No Changes to the Property or Space


A certificate of occupancy “walk-through” inspection is required whenever there is a change in occupancy or a change in tenant, when there is no existing record of the last approved occupancy. We require that a building inspector and a fire inspector check over the space before opening. (fee may vary, please see the Inspections & Permits Department Fee Estimation Guide)

After getting site plan approval (when required), obtain a building permit to begin construction or renovation, inside or outside.

What we’ll need with your permit application before scheduling an inspection:

  • A building permit application
  • An abbreviated Building Code Summary.
  • A floor plan of the space to be occupied, drawn to scale, showing and identifying each room, bathrooms, doorways, exits, reception areas, etc.
  • An overall building plan, drawn to scale, that clearly identifies the name, address, and type of business for each tenant space.

Please submit four copies of the Building Code Summary, floor plan, and building plan for most projects. Five copies are required for projects reviewed by Wake County Environmental Services (Health Department), such as food services and certain day care facilities.

Contact - Inspections & Permits Department at (919) 469-4043.


Locating a Business in Your Home


Our Home Occupations Ordinance governs businesses operated in residential areas.

Contact Planning Department at (919) 469-4342


Changing Residential Property into Commercial Property


Converting a house or other residential structure into commercial property may require rezoning.

Contact – Planning Department at (919) 469-4082

Regardless of any zoning changes, you’ll need site plan approval to build or to make exterior changes to the property. These include landscaping, parking, etc. A site plan is required before any construction.

ContactPlan Review and Design (Planning Department) at (919) 319-4583

After getting site plan approval, obtain a building permit to begin construction or renovation, inside or outside. Some state building code requirements are more stringent for commercial property than those for homes. Examples include:

• Handicapped access for the site and the bathrooms
• Weight-bearing limits of floors
• Width of hallways and corridors
• Firewalls

Contact – Inspections & Permits Department at (919) 469-4043


Privilege (Business) License


Unless specifically exempt under state law, the Town of Cary requires a privilege (business) license for anyone who:

• Maintains a business location within Cary limits or
• Solicits business within Cary (specifically or through agents) or
• Picks up or delivers goods or services within Cary

Contact – Finance Department at (919) 460-4952

Business Link NC (BLNC), a section of the N.C. Department of Commerce, has details on state licenses, permits and regulatory requirements. (North Carolina has no single business license covering all requirements.)

Signs

A temporary sign permit covers “now open” banners and other signs that in most cases remain up for no more than 30 days.

A sign permit is required before you install permanent signs.

Uniform sign plans set parameters for the size, location and design of signs on property constructed or managed as a single development. See the project list to learn whether a sign plan exists for your location. Call us if you don’t see it on the list.

Contact – Planning Department at (919) 469-4082 (temporary signs)
Contact – Planning Department at (919) 469-4342 (other signs)


Miscellaneous Town of Cary Requirements

Businesses that serve wine or beer need a permit from the Town of Cary. They must receive a state Alcoholic Beverage Control permit before applying for the Town of Cary Beer and Wine permit.


Contact (Town)
Inspections & Permits Department at (919) 469-4043
 or Finance Department at (919) 460-4952

Contact (State)Business License Information Office


Water & Sewer Service


A Water and Sewer Service Application is required.

FOR CHANGES TO EXISTING SERVICE:
Contact – Finance Department at (919) 469-4050

FOR NEW SERVICE:
Contact - Inspections & Permits Department at (919) 460-4992


Garbage Collection


In addition to water and sewer service, we provide once-a-week collection to small businesses whose garbage:

• Will fit into four 32-gallon cans
• Is similar to general household waste with no special disposal requirements

We also collect flattened corrugated cardboard from these businesses.

Contact Public Works & Utilities Department at (919) 469-4090


Other Utilities


Electricity, gas, telephone and cable TV


County, State & Federal Requirements


See an overview and contacts for licenses and permits, business name registration, tax listing, etc.


Resources for Small Business


Cary Chamber of Commerce

Wake County information for businesses
Small Business Center Network (N.C. Community College System)
N.C. Small Business and Technology Development Center
Business Link North Carolina (NC Commerce)
U.S. Small Business Administration
SCORE
Foreign Trade Zones in North Carolina