Who Needs Building Approval in Lagos? (Individuals vs. Developers)

It has become increasingly important to ensure safe and well-planned development as the city of Lagos grows to accommodate its constantly expanding population.  

Building approval is the formal permission granted by a local authority, like the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA), to proceed with a construction project. It signifies that the submitted building plans comply with all relevant building codes, zoning regulations, and safety standards. The approval process ensures the following: 

  • Structural Integrity: Plans are reviewed by qualified professionals to guarantee the building’s structural soundness and minimize the risk of collapse. 
  • Safety Compliance: Building codes address fire safety, accessibility, and other safety concerns. Approval ensures adherence to these codes. 
  • Zoning Adherence: Zoning regulations dictate permitted uses, building heights, and setbacks within specific areas. Building approval verifies compliance with these regulations. 
  • Environmental Considerations: For large-scale projects, environmental impact assessments become part of the approval process, ensuring minimal environmental disruption. 

The Importance of Building Approval 

Building approval goes beyond mere paperwork. It serves several crucial purposes: 

  • Safety: Approved building plans undergo rigorous scrutiny by qualified professionals to ensure adherence to structural codes and safety standards. This minimizes the risk of building collapses; a tragic reality Lagos has been facing recently. 
  • Urban Planning: Building approvals ensure new developments align with the city’s master plan, promoting orderly urban growth and infrastructure development. This helps prevent congestion, facilitates traffic flow, and ensures access to essential services. 
  • Aesthetics: Building approvals consider the visual impact of a new structure on its surroundings. This fosters a more aesthetically pleasing cityscape and preserves the character of designated zones. 

But in Lagos, who precisely must obtain building approval?  

Understanding these objectives clarifies the rationale behind building approval requirements for both individuals and developers. 

Individuals Building in Lagos 

Even for individual homeowners embarking on relatively small-scale projects, obtaining building approval is mandatory in Lagos. This applies to: 

  • New Construction: Whether it’s a single-family home, a bungalow, or an extension to an existing building, individuals need approved plans before construction commences. 
  • Renovations: Significant renovations that alter the structure or load-bearing capacity of a building also require approval. Minor cosmetic changes might be exempt, but it’s best to confirm with LASPPA. 
  • Fencing: While some areas may have specific regulations, generally, constructing a fence around your property requires approval, especially if it exceeds a certain height. 

The process for individuals typically involves:

  1. Engaging a Registered Architect/Engineer: A qualified professional will create plans that comply with building regulations and zoning restrictions. 
  2. Land Documents and Title Verification: Proof of land ownership and a valid Certificate of Occupancy are necessary for processing the application. 
  3. Application Submission: The architect/engineer submits the complete application package, including drawings, structural calculations, and environmental impact assessment (if applicable) to LASPPPA. 
  4. Processing and Fees: LASPPPA reviews the application and charges processing fees based on the project’s size and complexity. 

Following approval, individuals can obtain a building permit, authorizing construction to begin. 

Building Approval for Developers in Lagos 

For developers undertaking larger-scale projects like apartment complexes, shopping malls, or office buildings, the building approval process is more comprehensive. Developers need approval for;

  • Master Plans: Before construction commences, developers must submit a comprehensive master plan outlining the entire project’s layout, infrastructure provisions, and environmental considerations. 
  • Detailed Building Plans: Similar to individuals, developers require detailed plans for each building within the project, adhering to relevant building codes and zoning regulations. 
  • Environmental Impact Assessment: For large-scale developments, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is mandatory. This assesses potential environmental impacts and proposes mitigation measures. 

The process for developers generally follows these steps: 

  1. Pre-qualification Stage: Developers engage with LASPPPA for pre-qualification, which involves initial discussions and guidance on necessary approvals. 
  2. Master Plan Submission and Review: The master plan undergoes thorough review by LASPPPA and other relevant government agencies. 
  3. Detailed Building Plan Approval: Once the master plan receives approval, detailed building plans for each structure are submitted for individual review and approval. 
  4. Environmental Impact Assessment Approval: The EIA report is scrutinized by environmental agencies to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. 

Following the successful completion of these stages, developers can obtain building permits for developing structures within the project. 

Key Considerations for Both Individuals and Developers 

While the specifics may differ for individuals and developers, some key considerations apply to both: 

  • Compliance with Zoning Regulations: Lagos has designated zones with specific building height restrictions, usage limitations, and setback requirements. Building plans must adhere to these regulations. 
  • Engagement with Qualified Professionals: Partnering with a registered architect, engineer, and environmental consultant ensures plans meet technical and regulatory standards. 
  • Timeframe and Costs: The building approval process can take several weeks or even months depending on project’s complexity. Factor in processing fees and professional service costs when budgeting for your project. 


Building approval in Lagos is not a bureaucratic hurdle but a crucial step towards ensuring safe, sustainable, and well-planned housing development. Whether you’re an individual homeowner or a large-scale developer, understanding the process and adhering to regulations is vital. You can visit the LASPPPA website to find out the requirements needed for your building approval. 

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