March 31, 2022

Informational Bulletin: Permitting Solar on Properties with Unpermitted Structures

The guidance suggests paths building departments can take to permit solar, whether or not the unpermitted structure jeopardizes safety.

For the purposes of this informational bulletin, an “unpermitted structure” is a building or structure constructed or modified without obtaining required permits or without a recognized record of existence.

From 2020 to 2035, the United States will need at least 13 times more solar capacity to meet its clean energy goals. To that end, building departments may be looking for solutions to common obstacles facing solar projects that are safe installations. This resource addresses one of these common obstacles – unpermitted structures on the property of a proposed solar system.

The guidance suggests paths building departments can take to permit solar, whether or not the unpermitted structure jeopardizes safety. We encourage solar contractors and other stakeholders to also use this document when planning a project.

This document suggests paths for two scenarios:
• Path 1: the unpermitted structure is not the proposed site of the solar energy system.
• Path 2: the unpermitted structure is the site of the solar energy system.