Building Permits

Building permits data are collected from individual permit offices, most of which are municipalities. The data are aggregated each year to the county level. The statistics are based on reports submitted by local building permit officials in response to a mail survey. When a report is not received, missing data are either (1) obtained from the Survey of Use of Permits (SUP) which is used to collect information on housing starts, or (2) imputed.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How are the building permit data summarized?
    Building permit statistics are summarized for the U.S., Census regions, Census divisions, metropolitan areas and counties. The survey collects the number of housing units and the valuation of construction for new single-family and multi-family structures.

    For additions, alterations, renovations and major replacements, the survey collects the number of total permits and total valuation for each month.
  • When and where are building permits data published? ;
    Preliminary estimates for the United States and the four Census regions are available  mid-month, every month in the “New Residential Construction Press Release.”  View release dates for preliminary data.

    Revised estimates of the building permits data are available at the end of each month for the U.S., Census Regions, Census divisions, metropolitan areas, counties and individual permit offices. View release dates for revised data.

    The state and metropolitan area data are available as text files.  Data for counties and individual permit offices are available in HTML format, as well as ASCII, comma delimited files. 

    Building Permit sample files and documentation are also available.
  • Do you have statistics available regarding commercial building permits issued by state and/or metropolitan area?
    There are no current statistics for commercial building permits. However, historical data regarding commercial building permits issued by state and/or metropolitan area are available for a fee. Annual data are offered for the years 1980-1994 and monthly data are available for the years 1988-1995.

    To order, contact the U.S. Census Bureau's Residential Construction office at (301) 763-5160.
  • What is the difference between building permits and housing starts data?        
    Building permits data are based on those units authorized to be built. Housing starts data are based on the actual breaking of ground for footings or foundations or beginning a new superstructure on top of an existing foundation. Statistics for these two types of data are available at the New Residential Construction site.