Regional Information Center Collection and State Library Resources

Building Permit Data

Building permits are required any time a building--a home, an apartment complex, a store, a church, an office building, or whatever--is constructed, enlarged, altered or demolished. In Maryland, builders apply for permits from either the county or the town where the building site is located.

The information asked for on a permit includes the names and addresses of the owner and the developer, the location of the property, the type of building being worked on and the value of the permit.

Many people are interested in tracking the kind of information that can be found on completed building permit applications.

Economists look at the number, type and value of permits issued to gauge economic activity and growth. (In fact, building permits are considered a leading economic indicator; that is, they can help forecast a recession or a boom economy before other statistics are available.)

Planners consider the location of new permits to help pinpoint areas of population and employment growth.

Business owners identify potential customers for their products and services from the names of both residential and non-residential building site owners.

Copies of all building permits issued in Baltimore City and in the five surrounding counties (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard) are sent to the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, where the information is entered into a database and developed into a series of monthly statistical reports. Users may subscribe to an online version of this database. (See the BMC web site for more information.)

Archives of the printed reports back to 1974 are kept in the Regional Information Center where the public is welcome to use them by appointment. For current subscription information for either the online database or for printed reports, please call 410-732-9570 or email

The Census Bureau issues reports on building permit activity, but since 1996, the data cover only residential construction. The reports in the Regional Information Center continue to track both residential and non-residential permit activity.

The reports listed below are available for use on-site in the Regional Information Center at 1500 Whetstone Way, Suite 300, by appointment only . Please call 410-732-9570 x 1060 to arrange a time to visit.

Housing Units Authorized by Building Permits…States, Metropolitan Areas, Individual Places. Annual from 1973-1994. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of the Census.
(410 cr )
This annual cumulation of monthly reports is no longer published in paper format, but the archived reports can be used for comparing Baltimore to other metro areas or doing easy time series. Reports are now also available online from the Census Bureau.

Metropolitan Building Activity Reports. Monthly. Baltimore, MD: Baltimore Metropolitan Council. (Issues from 1974 to date kept in Regional Information Center.)
Each issue includes a 1-3 page summary; number and value of permits by type and by jurisdiction for current month, same month last year, current year-to-date and same year-to-date period last year; permits by small area (Regional Planning District) within each jurisdiction; and detail on all individual permits valued over $50,000.

Permit Authorized Construction in Permit-Issuing Places by State and County for Maryland. Annual. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of the Census. (Md 410.3 scpa)
Issued monthly and cumulated annually, this printout provides residential permit statistics for all the counties in Maryland.