Sunday, January 29, 2023        

Building Department

Christopher McWhite, Building & Zoning Official

Christopher McWhite, CBO, HCO
Building and Zoning Official

FUNCTION:  The Building & Zoning Department is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the State of Rhode Island Building Codes and Minimum Housing Codes, the Town of Smithfield Zoning Ordinances, various sections of the Town Code, Health Ordinance, the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with several State regulations. The office responds to complaints, corrects violations, processes permit applications and performs plan review, as well as numerous other related functions.

Looking for the Zoning Department page? Click here

Once you are on the State Code Amendments Page, continue clicking on the + symbols until the desired amendment is opened.


What permits can I apply for?

These are the permits you can now apply for, receive email updates both for you

and your chosen guests such as a subcontractor or architect, check permit status,

request inspections, and receive your construction certificates when the project

is complete. To apply, just click on the permit you need below.

ViewPoint online permitting will help to streamline the permitting process and allow a better means of communications between the Applicant, Clerk, Inspector, Building Official, and Fire Marshal. You will be able to log in or receive email notifications and see completed inspection results.
Paper permit applications are no longer available. 


What to Expect When We Are Inspecting:

*When Town Hall is closed, there is a secure drop box at the front of Town Hall. Documents and other correspondence can be placed there and must be labeled Building & Zoning Department and marked Attention with the intended recipients name or job title. 


To the right –> are links to view electronic versions of the current Rhode Island Codes with the amendments already included. The Electric Code is not available with the amendments. All Codes are read-only, copyright protected publications and cannot be printed or copied but are here to help you with your project. We are here to help you understand anything that may be unclear. Call 401-233-1039 or email us at the addresses in the left column of this page.



Some previous editions of Rhode Island Codes may be found at

Frequently Asked Questions

When are permits required?
Permits must be obtained before constructing, enlarging, altering, repairing, moving, demolishing, or changing the occupancy of a building.  For clarification on permit requirements, please contact the Building and Zoning Office at (401) 233 – 1039.

Do I need a permit for accessory structures including sheds and fences?
Yes.  Sheds with footprints greater than sixty-four (64) square feet, and fences taller than six (6) feet, require building permits. Chapter 34-10 of Rhode Island’s General Laws defines lawful fences. For safety, a shed must be properly anchored.

How long will it take for the Building and Zoning Office to issue my permit?
Under Rhode Island General Law §23-27.3-114.1, titled “Action on application”, the Building Official has fifteen (15) calendar days to examine a permit application.  The permit is considered filed when preceding departments have Approved the application which may include the Tax Assessor, Zoning, and Fire Prevention Departments. In some cases the filing could be filed simultaneously to expedite review. Please call us at 401-233-1039 for details on if expedited filing is available.  If the Building Official approves the application, then a permit will be issued.  If the permit application is incomplete, deficient, overly vague, or the building plans fail to conform to applicable building code or state law, then the Building Official must reject the application citing his/her basis for rejection.  The Building Official then has an additional fifteen (15) calendar days, from the date the final amendment is submitted, to reexamine the amended permit application.

How can I ensure that the permitting process will not cause delays? 
Minimize delays by planning your projects in advance, seeking professional advice, and submitting complete permit applications the first time.  Apply for permits up to six (6) months before beginning construction.

What will my permit cost?
Click here for permit fees as set by the State.  Some projects may require additional fees so please consult with the Building and Zoning Office for actual permit costs.

What inspections are required after my permit is issued?
The characteristics of your project will dictate precisely what inspections you will need.  When the Building and Zoning Office issued your permit, you should have received documentation of the inspection procedure required by the International Building/Residential Code.  Click here for inspection procedures.

How can I avoid problems with a contractor?
Ask the right questions before retaining them:

  • Registered with Rhode Island’s Contractor’s Registration Board?
    • Request a copy of contractor’s registration card
  • Insured?
  • References?
  • View previous jobs/work?
  • Payment schedule?
  • Work schedule?
  • Written contract?
  • Copies of permits?

In Rhode Island general contractors are registered and not licensed.  A general contractor cannot legally accept work in Rhode Island without registering with the Contractor’s Registration Board.

What can I do if I am having problems with my contractor?
Aside from contacting the Building and Zoning Office at (401) 233-1039, also contact the Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration Board at (401) 222-1270.

How do I submit a complaint?
This is the Building & Zoning Citizen Complaint Form. Just click this form to download it, fill it out, and email it to the Department at the contacts above.