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Attention All NMNLA Members that Work in Emmet County – Building Permits and Code Requirements Now Being Enforced!

If you install landscape and hardscape construction projects in Emmet County, please be aware that for aspects of the work that you do, you need a building permit and you must comply with the Michigan Residential Code requirements. These are now being enforced for the safety of the residents and first responders that may need access via the landscaped areas of the home.


From the Emmet County Building Department, “The most common hardscape and landscape construction being questioned [about the applicability of Michigan’s Building Codes] includes, but is not limited to patios, stairways, stairs, landings and retaining walls, and are often constructed out and away from buildings.”


This will come as a new requirement for many of our member firms and we were fortunate to have a NMNLA Board member meet with Emmet County officials in February to learn more. They were able to learn what is needed to obtain a Building permit and received written resources (see links below).


It was less clear on how enforcement will be applied to ongoing projects or even with completed projects. Answers were vague and the best advice we can provide—if you are starting a new project, have a project currently in process, or have completed your portion of the project but the Builder or General Contractor on the project still has an open Building Permit—is to visit the Emmet County Building Department for clarification on what you need to do to comply.


In regards to the Building Permit—there are three different avenues to obtain the needed permit and you are required to have or do one of these three:

1. You must have a Builder’s License or have an individual with a Builder’s License on staff; OR

2. You will need to apply through the licensed builder that is already on-site at the property you are working at; OR

3. You can apply as an agent on behalf of your client (similar to how you do now for shoreline permitting).


The Emmet County Building Department can be reached at:
John R. Watson Community Resource Center
3434 Harbor-Petoskey Rd., Suite E
Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Phone: (231) 348-1735
Fax: (231) 439-8933
Hours: Open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Here are additional resources provided by the Emmet County Building Department:


We are stronger together! Please contact Amy at or at the NMNLA Office at (517) 381-0437 to share your experiences with Building Permits/Codes.

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