About the development process 

This page is under construction. It will eventually reflect DSC operations once they stabilize in light of COVID-19. For operational information and resources, please refer to the services update page.


This page, and the tabs below, summarize services offered by the DSC and outline the overall development process in Durham. Until new processes are established, please refer to the Emergency Alert banner. 

In most instances, the development approval and permitting processes – whether located within the City of Durham or in unincorporated Durham County – will begin at the Development Services Center located in Durham City Hall. This includes development located on private property or within the public right-of-way.

New homes (one and two-family), home renovations, and additions will generally proceed straight to the building or trade permit process, which is summarized within the Development approval and permitting tab at the left. This tab also discusses requirements within Local Historic Districts. See the General questions tab for information about how to check setbacks, subdivision, impervious surface requirements, and other zoning feasibility matters.

Below is a table that lists all City-County development processes, and the primary point of contact for application submittal and questions. This table appears again within the tabs on the left-hand side of the page, and breaks out more information submittal processes, fees, review timelines, and validity periods. Processes identified in the tables are sequenced in the same linear manner as the development process, beginning with general property questions and zoning verification, and then special approvals, site planning, engineering, permitting, and inspections. The tabs on the left are organized similarly; each topic represents the major logistical stages of City and County application and permitting processes.

Within each tab, information is also organized by department. City-County Planning, City-County Inspections, and City Public Works service the bulk of development activity in Durham City and County, and these are three separate departments. While processes are coordinated among the departments and share common help desks and permitting databases, certain functions like fee payment and inspections do vary across these entities. Most walk-in customers for Planning, Inspections, and Public Works will conduct business at the DSC lobby on the ground floor of City Hall, but some walk-in services are handled by a secondary Public Works desk on the third floor of City Hall.

Additional resources are available on the help page.