Locating to an Existing Building

Locating Your Business in an Existing Building?

Locating your business in an existing building is a major investment in a community and its plan for the future.

Do You Need a Permit?

All new occupants or tenants, regardless of whether it’s a change of ownership or if renovations are done or not, a use permit will be required. Additionally, Calvert County follows the 2018 International Building Code which states any alteration or change to a commercial space requires a permit. Typical alterations include adding or removing walls and doors, installing specialized equipment, upgrading electrical or plumbing fixtures and enhancing architectural features of a space. Visit Inspections & Permits Divisions “Do I Need a Permit” page

Will there be renovations?
If your plan is to move into a space and make only minor cosmetic changes (like paint, carpet, tile or removable shelving), you only need to apply for a Use Permit. All Use Permits are reviewed by local county and state agencies that include Planning & Zoning, Environmental Health Division and Office of State Fire Marshal staff to ensure the intended use and occupancy complies with appropriate regulations.

If your intended use is different from what was in the space previously or if the previous use of the space was not properly reviewed and permitted, a review of the building code and life safety code may be required to ensure compliance.

Are you making more than $5,000 in renovations?
The Annotated Code of Maryland requires any commercial or publicly occupied space requiring more than $5,000 in renovations to have plans prepared by a Maryland-licensed architect. A Commercial Improvement or Tenant Fit-Out Permit is required for any renovations. Please contact the Inspections & Permits Division with questions about this requirement. 

Other considerations:

  • Electrical and plumbing work requires plan and permitting. Your architect or licensed contractor can assist you with these submittals. Visit Inspections & Permits for more information or call 410-535-2155. 
  • Electricians and plumbers must be licensed to work in Calvert County. Verify if your contractor is licensed by contacting Inspections & Permits directly at 410-535-2155.
  • Inspections are required for any Use or Commercial Improvement Permit.


Businesses should review the area plan and find out where all infrastructure (water, sewer, etc.) is located before acquiring a site. Your engineer or surveyor should be able to help you locate existing infrastructure and/or the distance to the nearest infrastructure. For help, contact Economic Development at 410-535-4583.

Is public water or sewer available?
Contact the Department of Public Works Water and Sewer Division for more information on public and community water and sewer systems.

Private well or septic system? Planning to serve food or drink? 
On-site Sewage Disposal System and Well inspection report may be required if you are locating your business in an existing building with an on-site septic system and well. If your property or business location is on well, septic, plan to prepare, sell or serve food and/or drinks contact the Calvert County Health Department, Environmental Health Division for more information. 

Road, Site Entrance, and Public Safety Considerations

A traffic study may need to be prepared by a traffic engineer and reviewed by the Department of Public Works. 

Where will a road entrance to my building/property be allowed?
On state roads, contact the District 5 office of the Maryland State Highway Administration. On county roads and other roads, contact the Department of Public Works Engineering/Transportation Division.

Are there any public safety codes or regulations? 
Contact the Department of Public Safety Fire, Rescue & EMS Service about possible fire lanes, fire suppression water tanks, and other standards. Contact the Office of the State Fire Marshal for state life safety code regulations. Inspections & Permits coordinates with the State Fire Marshal, to review construction drawings prepared by your Maryland licensed architect to determine if any changes are needed to meet the life safety codes.

Zoning, Private Covenants, Construction Permit Requirements, and Environmental Considerations

Are you in a Municipality? 
If so, check with the town hall to see the plans and regulations in the town. Chesapeake Beach and North Beach are both incorporated towns within Calvert County and have separate governments and zoning regulations from the county and town center regulations. County permits are still required after municipality zoning permission is obtained.

Are there private covenants?
Contact the property owner, landlord, or property management company to see if there are any covenants or restrictions on the property. Check the deed and/or the record plat to see if there are any covenants which may affect your business plan. Need assistance locating your deed and/or record plat? Contact 410-535-1600 ext. 2269. 

What About Zoning?
Determine the zoning of the property and ask the Department of Planning & Zoning- Zoning, Permitting and Citizen Relations to assist you in determining if the business is permitted at that location. You will also want to ask for information on zoning standards such as property and building setbacks, permitted uses, landscaping buffers, building size, parking, etc.

Is my property/business in a Town Center?
There are seven (7) Town Centers in Calvert County that are subject to Calvert County Government regulations - Dunkirk, Owings, Huntingtown, Prince Frederick, St. Leonard, Lusby, and Solomons (Chesapeake Beach and North Beach are not Town Centers, they are municipalities with their own planning and zoning authority: see section "Are you in a Municipality?"). Each of the seven Town Centers has its own Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance. Certain types of projects, including the construction or renovation of buildings and installation of and changes to signs, require architectural review approval. Refer to the Town Center page for information on the architectural review process, meeting days, and location of the Town Center Architectural Review Committees.

Do I need a Permit? 
All site work, grading, and construction must be done according to an approved site plan and as per the applicable building codes. Review of construction permits may include (but is not limited to) the Health Department, State Fire Marshal, Zoning, Architectural Review Committees, Public Works, and the Soil Conservation District. Additionally, if construction is required you will need to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy by the Division of Inspections & Permits before your business can open to the public. Any electrical, plumbing and/or gas work must be permitted and completed by a licensed tradesman. Please contact Inspections and Permits for more information.

Once all required permits are issues, the Inspections and Permits Office offers the option of scheduling a "pre-construction meeting" through the Inspections and Permits Office. This is highly recommended since these meetings provide an opportunity to introduce inspections staff to a cursory review of your construction plans. The main contractor and any available subcontractors are required to attend. Calvert County Inspection staff will discuss the submitted plan and answer any questions. Please contact Inspections and Permits after all applications have been submitted so the meeting can be arranged at a convenient time. We can normally accommodate these meetings within three business days.

A pre-construction meeting can also be held at the site to make sure that owners, applicants, and contractors are aware of the conditions of approval for grading and site work. There are fees for this meeting, which are based on amount of ground disturbance.

Can my business have a sign?
For zoning regulations pertaining to signage, refer to the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance or contact the Department of Planning & Zoning- Zoning, Permitting and Citizen Relations for assistance. You may need to file a Sign Permit Application. If your business is in a Town Center or a Rural Commercial District, you will be required to obtain Architectural Review Committee approval for signs. Visit Sign Permit Requirements page for more information.

For information pertaining to environmental regulations on forest cover, wetlands, streams, flood plains, and the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Program, refer to the Department of Planning & Zoning Environmental Section

Stormwater Management
For more information on storm water management regulations, contact the Department of Public Works Engineering/Transportation Division.

How Can You Stay Informed?

Applicants may follow the status of their project on the Encompass Portal.