When Do You Need a Permit for Your Remodeling Project?
Permits are needed to ensure that you are not breaking any laws and that your work as per rules and regulations. If you’re planning a remodeling project, it’s important to know when you need a permit for your remodeling project.
Required permits for remodeling vary depending on where you live, but certain situations typically require a permit. The most common remodeling projects that require a permit are adding or removing an addition to the home, installing new electrical wiring, installing plumbing systems for showers and sinks, converting a garage into living space, tearing down walls, and shaving ceilings.
Permits that you need for Remodeling
- Walls – Demolishing a wall or building a new one may require the help of an architect or engineer. If you’re just replacing wallboards, no permit is necessary – but if you’re adding a major structural element such as a ceiling beam, this may require the work of a professional and will need to be permitted.
- Siding – Installing siding requires permits for almost all municipalities. Even changing one or two pieces of siding may require a permit depending on how the individual city requires it to be done.
- Windows – If you’re installing new windows, you’ll need to bring in an inspector to have the work inspected, especially if you are changing the size of your window opening by more than six inches. This will require the new window opening to be bricked up, and then an arch or lintel will need to be installed. No permit is necessary if you’re just replacing your old windows with new ones. Refer to our article on Tips to Insulate Your Apartment Windows for Winter
- Shower Stalls – Installing a shower stall requires permits in almost all municipalities. Replacing an existing shower requires no permit, but if you are installing another one in a different location, this will require a permit.
- Sinks – Installing sinks requires permits in most municipalities. If you’re just replacing the old sink with a new one, no permit is necessary, but if you are adding a new sink or changing the location, your work will need to be inspected by an inspector, and this will require a permit.
- Egress Windows – Egress windows are required by the International Residential Code in case of fire emergencies. If you are not living in a one or two-story home, you will likely need to install an egress window. This requires a permit because it changes how your house is built.
- The layout of the room – If you change the layout of your living space by removing or adding rooms, this will require a permit. You may also need to get a permit if you’re moving walls to make larger rooms.
- Electrical work – Installing wiring in new locations will require permits in most municipalities because this is considered major electrical work. Replacing existing wiring will not require a permit.
- Plumbing work – Replacing sinks or toilets won’t require a permit, but replacing water heaters, adding new sinks, and other plumbing scenarios will require permits. No permit is necessary if you’re just doing some touch-ups like re-grouting your tiles or replacing faucet handles.
- Roof work – Any work on your roof will need to be permitted, even replacing shingles. No permit is necessary if you’re just putting on a new coat of paint, but anything else will require a permit.
- Fences – Installing a fence or installing a new gate will require permits. If you’re just replacing an existing fence with one of the same size and type, no permit is needed, but if you’re adding another gate to your property or enlarging it, this will require a permit.
- Demolition – Demolition requires permits in most municipalities. You may not need a permit to demolish some areas of your property – for example; you may be able to take down some simple fencing without needing a permit if it’s done safely. If you want to knock out an entire section of fence or wall, this will require a permit because it involves the demolition of a major section of the property.
Permits that you don’t need for remodeling
- Painting – You can paint without a permit, but using some caution is still necessary. Painting the interior of your home requires no permits unless you are changing the location where you are painting. If you are on an upper level and want to lower the ceilings by painting them darker, this will require a permit because it changes more than just paint color. If you are painting the inside of your home, make sure there’s adequate ventilation and take precautions to protect your furniture and flooring.
Related: How to Choose Exterior Paint Colors for House
- Fences – If you’re just replacing an existing fence with one of the same size and type, no permit is needed, but if you’re adding another gate to your property or enlarging it, this will require a permit.
- Noise – You can go ahead and do some noisy work without getting permits, but you need to be careful if the noise is bothersome for your neighbors. If you’re planning on renting very loud equipment, this will require a permit because it requires an inspection of the property where the equipment is being used so that they can monitor for excessive noise.
- Replacing a heating or air conditioning system – Most municipalities require a permit for any work on your HVAC system, but some do have exceptions. For example, most will not require a permit if you’re just replacing filters or leaving an existing unit in place while adding ducts to an additional room.
See also: How to Find a Handyman or a Plumber When You Move
- Installing insulation – If you are insulating an existing home, this does not require a permit. This is because of safety concerns regarding using insulation during construction and in homes that already exist (insulation can contain asbestos). If it’s a new construction project, the insulation needs to be installed by professionals, requiring permits.
- Tuckpointing – If you’re just re-pointing your mortar joints and it’s a small section, no permit is required. If you’re doing some major work on your mortar and brick, or any of the bricks need to be replaced, this will require permits because some municipalities consider this more than just repair.
- Gutters – Replacing gutters does not require a permit if you’re just swapping out the existing gutters with gutter covers. Suppose you’re replacing any of the under-gutter sections or your facia board. In that case, this requires permits because it will involve the replacement of some major sections of the property that have been designated as non-permanent.
- Tile flooring – If you’re just swapping existing tiles for new tiles in the same area of your home, no permit is required. If you’re adding tiles in any other area of your property or making changes to the installation itself, this will require a permit because it involves major changes.
Submitting your permit application
The first thing you need to do is decide whether a simple permit will work for your needs or if you need to apply for a building permit. The simplest option will likely be the city’s ‘general housekeeping’ permit. This type of permit allows you to carry out any renovations without too much oversight from your local office.
On the other hand, a building permit is a much more detailed and involved process, one that will require drawings and blueprints of your project to get approved. In some cases, you can start work before this permit has been issued, but you will have to meet certain requirements for this to happen.
You will also need to ensure that certain conditions are met before work can begin, such as ensuring sufficient access points are available. These are designed to keep your project on schedule, as delays can result if you don’t have the proper permits.
You will need to decide the scope of your project before applying for a permit. This means which government department you are dealing with. If it is anything involving electricity, gas, or plumbing – contact the relevant agencies for guidelines on how to proceed.
You must also provide a detailed description and tentative cost of your project, and you must understand what the rules are. One example includes not placing any signs on-site without permission from the local authority. If you don’t, then this may result in your permit application being rejected.
When applying for permits, you’ll need to submit all the following:
- Filled-out Permit Form.
- A building plan drawn to scale.
- Signed contract agreement between you and your contractor.
- CAD drawings (computer-aided design) or blueprints for any electrical, plumbing, or gas work that’s being done.
- Site photos show where the work is taking place.
- Proof of ownership if you don’t own the property.
Before signing any contracts, make sure that you have a fully completed copy of the permit form in your hands. This should include all signatures and dates.
The process for obtaining permits
- There are certain steps involved in obtaining permits, and they depend on which type of permit you’re applying for. Those considering a home renovation should know that the process can take up to three months.
- You will need to submit your application in writing and all the required documents. If you are applying for a home renovation permit, it’s best to hand in these documents personally. Make sure to contact the local authority beforehand for information regarding fees and any forms that may be needed.
- You may also be required to hire a structural engineer if your renovation requires major structural changes. They’ll need to complete an inspection of the property before any work can begin.
- Renovating your home takes time and money, but it’s better than dealing with fines later down the line. The process for obtaining permits varies from state to state, so it’s best to speak to your local authority for more information.
- If you need help with your application or want to know more about the process, contact your local authority. They should be able to provide you with any information you may require.
Also Read: Ways to Cut Costs on Your House Remodel
Always follow the rules and laws set out by your municipality so that you can avoid potential fines or penalties. You should always contact your municipality to find out the specific requirements as a homeowner. For example, some municipalities don’t require permits for simple repairs, but they do require permits if any of the work involves major changes with regard to renovation and construction.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between a remodeling project and renovation?
A remodeling project involves:
- Making major changes to your property, such as replacing an entire section of siding with new siding.
- Adding windows where there were none before.
- Installing a fence along the perimeter of your property.
Renovations refer to small projects that do not involve major changes and will not require a permit.
Why do I need a permit?
Permits ensure that your project meets the local building codes and guidelines set out by your municipality. Failing to get permits for your project can lead to financial penalties or even legal action if it’s done without proper approval. In addition, certain projects – such as adding a fence to your property – require permits because they are considered more permanent additions.
What is an exception?
An exception is where a project does not meet the requirements for getting a permit, but your municipality allows for exceptions. For example, some municipalities do not require permits for small repairs that don’t involve major changes or structural issues like adding new insulation. Always check with your municipality to know what you need for a permit before starting a project.
When do I not need a permit?
Some projects that don’t require permits include changing light bulbs if they’re in the same location, replacing rain gutters within 3 feet from the existing ones, and replacing vinyl siding with vinyl siding.
What are the most common reasons for getting a permit?
The most common reasons to get permits are when you have to replace sections of your property that are considered more permanent, such as replacing exterior walls or foundations. If the work is being done in an area of your property that doesn’t normally require a permit, you might still have to get one depending on the kind of project being done.
How can I find out what kind of permit I need for my project?
The best way to find out what kind of permit you should apply for is to contact your local municipality. They will be able to tell you precisely which permits are required based on the type of work being done on your property.
How do I get a permit for my project?
You’ll need to meet with your municipality and submit an application to get a permit. You will then be contacted with the details of when to come in for approval and inspections. Once the work is complete, you’ll also have to return for final approval before getting your permit.
What kind of work will not require a permit?
No permit is required if you’re just swapping out existing tiles around your property. However, suppose you’re changing the installation itself or adding tiles/materials in any other area on your property that does not already have materials like this. In that case, you will need to get a permit.