Obtaining permits may not be fun, but we can help! We assist many customers with the permit process. We take care of most of the challenging aspects of securing pallet rack permits so you can focus on your business. That means you get your job done and begin using your new pallet racking system as quickly as possible.
Whether you choose to get permits yourself, or you want us to help, you’ll want to keep reading to understand what is involved.
What permits are actually required? There’s two: Building Permits and Fire Permits. Some cities automatically include the Fire Permits in their permitting process.
Most cities require building permits for industrial storage racks that are over 5’ 9” high. That means almost all pallet rack and most shelving should be permitted.
Product stored above 12’ have a specific designation. For highly flammable products, anything over 6′ may be deemed High Piled Storage. A High Piled Storage permit requires more involvement from the Fire Marshal who will assess the flammability of the product being stored, and the adequacy of the fire sprinkler system. If the top of your product will be above 12ft from the ground, we definitely recommend you read more about High Piled Storage here.
Like many building permit fees, the permit fees for warehouse racking systems are typically a percentage of the total value of the racking project. The fee can vary widely, but we commonly see fees in the range of 10-30% of the racking value and installation cost. Some cities have a permit estimator to help determine the cost. For example, for pallet rack permits in Portland, Oregon there is an online permit estimator.
Pallet Rack Permit Process
There are several steps to obtaining permits for warehouse storage racking. While the exact steps can vary by county or state, here is an overview of the typical process.
1. CAD Drawings
CAD Drawings are prepared to show floor and site plans, including the location of the racking equipment within the building, aisles, ingress, egress, rack dimensions, beam elevations, and more. Many building owners already have an CAD drawing file of the facility that they can send you. This will be very helpful in producing the documents needed for the permit application.
Whether or not you’re getting permits, CAD Layouts are an important way to make sure you are optimizing the flow and storage of your facility. We can help with this process.
2. Seismic Calculations
Seismic calculations are a required part of the permit process in most states. Our engineers perform the calculations based on the specific configuration of racking in your warehouse, the weight of the loads you intend to place on the racking, and the seismic zone that your facility is located in. Seismic calculations determine the capacity that your racking is rated for at your facility.
3. Permit Documents
We’ll fill out the necessary documentation to pull an initial permit for the racking. You’ll still need to be involved in this process, as there is a lot of information that will be required for the permit (particularly if you are storing above 12ft which triggers high piled storage requirements). For example: what is the product being stored, how flammable is it, what commodity class is the product, fire sprinkler data, concrete thickness, etc. We’ll help you gather the information, submit the documentation, and then work with the local government to process the initial permit.
Once the initial permit has been pulled, pallet rack installation can begin. Our professional rack installers will install the racking in accordance with all city/county/state codes. Racks must be installed to spec, and then permit can be denied if they are not installed properly. For this reason, we recommend using a professional pallet rack installer when obtaining permits for rack.
5. Special Inspection
The permitting authority requires an independent testing company to verify the rack was installed and anchored properly. This is primarily an anchor inspection to assure that the anchors are installed correctly with the appropriate ft-lbs of torque and adequate embedment. Professional pallet rack installers are familiar with these requirements.
6. Final Inspection
The permitting authority performs their final inspection to verify the installation meets all requirements.
7. Final Permit
The permit receives a status of “finaled” after a successful final inspection. Now your racking is ready for use!
How long does it take to get Pallet Rack Permits?
In general, plan for 2-3 months.
Gathering the necessary data to submit the initial permit application takes 2-4 weeks, depending on the complexity of the project. Once the application has been submitted, cities often require 4-8 weeks for their review.
We highly recommend reading this pallet rack project timeline to get a better sense for how long each step takes.
Can I load the rack before I get the permit?
No. The city will not allow you to store anything on the rack prior to receiving the final permit. The racks must be empty when the city comes for the final inspection. If an inspector or fire marshall finds that you have loaded the rack prior to obtaining the permit, they could tell you to immediately unload the racking, and potentially issue fines.
Pallet Rack Permits FAQs
Do I need permits for my warehouse racking?
Yes. Any racking 5′ 9″ or taller requires permits.
Is the height requirement set by the County? City? State? Does every county have a different Height?
Most counties stick with the 5’ 9” standard. However, we haven’t heard of any counties with a different standard.
What do I need in order to get permits for my pallet racking?
- CAD Drawings of the racking, building, and site plan.
- Seismic calculations performed by an engineer showing the rated seismic load for each level.
- If over 12′ top of product, a high-piled storage evaluation form.
- Proper installation of racking including anchors.
- Special inspection of the anchors by an independent inspector.
- Final inspection of the racking by the city.
Can you install warehouse racking without a permit?
Can you? Yes. But, should you? No.
Here’s what could happen if you don’t:
- In most jurisdictions, the fire marshal will come around and do inspections of your property (usually every 1-3 years). So, when they see your pallet rack, they will ask to see the permit for it. In other words, if you don’t have one, then the fire marshal reports it.
- Depending on the fire marshal, and the situation, he could say “you need to get it permitted” or “take it down immediately”. That is to say, it just depends on the severity of the situation and how your fire marshal is feeling that day. As a result, more severe situations are likely to elicit a stronger response. For example, tall racking holding highly flammable material with no sprinkler system is a serious fire danger.
- In a low-severity situation, he’ll probably just report it to the city or county and tell you to get it permitted within a few months.
- In a high-severity situation, he’ll tell you to unload and tear down the racks immediately. Moreover, he could shut down your whole operation until the situation is rectified. As a result, you’ll also be at risk of fines for failing to get the permits.
Let Us Help with Getting a Pallet Rack Permit
Obtaining permits is one of the least exciting of all the steps in a warehouse rack project. It’s a lot of paperwork, communicating with multiple parties, and standing in line at the permit office. Let us handle it for you.
Contact us today to get a quote on permitting your warehouse racking.