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Alex is the founder of 9Kilo Moving, which he started to help people easily find and choose the right moving company to make their move as stress-free and seamless as possible. He has spent over 20 years working in the moving industry, so he knows every aspect of the business and uses his knowledge to write about the industry and give moving advice. More on about us page

The place you call ‘home’ is your own personal space, allowing you to express yourself, your aesthetic, vision and requirements. However, when you stay for long in one home, you’ll feel the need to change the surroundings. Either make a few small changes or go big on the renovation. Irrespective of how you renovate your home, you’ll need a few permits. On a sunny morning, you wake up and wish to demolish a wall, you cannot do so without a permit!

But on the flip side, not all home remodeling projects require a permit. Simply put, if you’re going on a home remodeling adventure, you first need to familiarize yourself with the renovations that need a permit and those that don’t. To make things simpler, we have listed down all possible information you need to know before beginning your renovation.

Renovations That Need A Permit

During a home remodeling or renovation project, there’s a list of aspects that definitely need a permit and those that may require an official permission. Some aspects, on the other hand, depend on societal or building policies. Of course, they differ from one building to another. So, along with listing down the required permits, you need to be aware of all the building policies. This will make things simpler, especially when you have ten other things to worry about.

For your convenience, we have differentiated the required permits into three types:

  • Those that definitely require a permit, no exceptions
  • Those that require building and other specific permits
  • Those that may or may not require a permit based on building policies


Renovations That Definitely Need A Permit

Following is a list of aspects that definitely requires a permit for renovation or remodeling:

  • Demolishing a load-bearing wall to change the home structure
  • Renovating the roof using a different material altogether
  • Alerting the layout of the house
  • Establishing a new electric circuit or connection
  • Installing a fence above a certain permissible height
  • Changes made to any public property just outside your property
  • Building a separate driveway or garage
  • Building a new opening for a window or door
  • Providing a fireplace or chimney as part of the renovation project
  • HVAC projects (installing an air conditioner or water heater)
  • Constructing a swimming pool, whether rooftop or in-ground
  • Making changes to the sewer line

Renovations That Require Building And Other Specific Permits

Following is a list of aspects that requires a specific permit for renovation or remodeling:

  • Removal or addition of walls to change the structure of your house
  • Demolition of any kind involved in this project
  • Constructing an in-ground or rooftop swimming pool
  • Changing the roofing of your home using materials different from the existing one
  • Completely changing the purpose of a particular space i.e., a garage to a new room
  • Changing the piping or plumbing system of home

See also: Pool Remodeling: Things to Consider  | How Much Does it Cost to Tear Down a House

A few similar aspects may be included in this list and the one given above. However, it’s important to require that while some changes require only a building’s permit, others may require permission from government bodies or the surrounding community. It’s important to keep track of these specialized permits to avoid any complications later.

Renovations That May Or May Not Require A Permit Based On Building Policies

Following is a list of aspects that may or may not require a permit for renovation or remodeling:

  • Demolishing a non-load bearing wall that may not structurally affect your home’s safety
  • Cutting down a tree located within your home’s premises
  • Retaining a wall that is above the permissible height i.e., usually 4 ft.
  • Any changes that may involve the plumbing/sewer system

This category of renovations differs from one building or community to another depending on the policies implemented.

Renovations That Do Not Need A Permit

Renovations are tedious and tend to usurp the fun and excitement out of a home renovation project. On the bright side, not all remodeling aspects require a permit, either from the building or from the local government authorities. These are again classified into two groups:

  • Those that definitely don’t require a permit
  • Those that do not often require a permit (but may do so depending on building policies)

Renovations That Don’t Require A Permit At All

The list under this section is small but significant with respect to home renovation. Usually, any cosmetic work such as painting the walls, installing new cabinets for extra storage, building a small fence surrounding your home premises, repairing the driveway, etc. don’t require permits. It’s because these neither change the structure of your home nor affect the electrical or community plumbing systems. Here, you’re free to experiment to your heart’s content!


Renovations That Do Not Often Require A Permit

Following is a list of aspects that often, do not require a permit but may do so, in case of certain building policies:

  • Laying a new roof made of the same material as before the renovation
  • Putting a wooden, laminate, or vinyl flooring
  • Replacing an existing sink with a different kind
  • Making minor electrical changes, such as replacing a circuit breaker
  • Constructing a new deck below a certain height
  • Retaining a wall within permissible height i.e., usually 4 ft.
  • Fixtures or minor replacements in the kitchen and bathroom

The above list of items specifies a list of renovations that do not necessarily require a building permit or approval by the local authorities. However, each locality or state has its own set of regulations. So, while most states may not take any issue against these remodeling aspects, others may demand prior approval. Hence, while researching the required permits, make sure to search for the local regulations. This will give you a clear idea about the required permits before pursuing your dream home remodeling project.

Also Read: Top Household Problems to Fix in Before you Move in

A Little About The Home Remodeling Permit Process

To begin with, a building permit required for a new construction is different from the one required for home renovation. You need to have a little understanding about the latter if you’re taking up a renovation project.

In simple terms, a building permit for renovation projects is usually issued by your local building department. However, before issuing a permit, a building inspector reviews your home renovation project to ensure that they fulfil the local, city or state regulations and ordinances. So when you get a permit, you’re essentially getting a go-ahead to pursue your renovation project. In other words, this permit works like a guarantee, implying that your renovation project is adhering to the regulations. That’s why you need to get the required permits from building or local government authorities before you begin any remodelling projects.

You can also file a permit once your renovation is done. However, it will cost you a few extra bucks to get the approval. It’s also riskier in cases of projects which need prior inspection or checking. Hence, the safest bet is to get a permit before you start renovating.

How To Get A Permit For Home Remodeling?

Every important formality is accompanied by a process that you need to follow. Getting a permit for a particular home remodeling process is no exception to this fact. If the official-sounding word ‘permit’ intimidates you, we assure you that it’s not that complicated. Here are the steps involved in getting a permit for a home remodeling project:

Step 1: Fill And Complete The Permit Application

Unsurprisingly enough, paperwork is the first step towards acquiring any permit or agreement. Completing the paperwork with the required, correct details can make it 10 times easier to acquire the permit.

Step 2: In Case Of Major Plans Or Changes, Share Your Plan

This step is only applicable if your home renovation is not restricted to painting the walls or tweaking the plumbing system. If you’re undertaking a serious, full-fledged renovation project, you may need to explain it to the authorities. So, keep a blueprint of your plan ready.

Step 3: Pay The Permit Fee

Along with filling the permit application, you also need to pay a certain fee amount to get it approved. This fee depends on the type of renovation that you’re seeking approval for. There isn’t a price range for the permit, but it goes by this simple logic: the more complex, the more the charges!

Step 4: Post The Permit At An Accessible Location

Once you get the permit, post it outside your home so that it can be easily visible for the inspectors who suddenly wish to make a visit. This will save you from any unnecessary brawls or disagreements.

Step 5: Research About The Required Inspections

After getting the permit, make sure to enquire about all the possible inspections needed for your renovation. It’s important to get your plans verified before you begin renovating. For example, before plumbing or conducting any electrical work, the walls need to be inspected before they’re covered with drywall.

Pro-Tip: You don’t need to worry too much if you fail an inspection. In case you do, you’ll get another chance. In case a problem is incited during the inspection, you may need to invest more money or time in getting it fixed.


What If You Don’t Get A Home Remodeling Permit?

Getting a permit is one of the sour points of taking up a full-fledged renovation project. Invariably, you’ll be tempted to avoid getting a permit at any cost and skip to the good part. Such a risky move can lead to two outcomes - you go ahead with your renovation without any hassles or you get caught. While the former rarely happens, the latter outcome can lead to both legal and financial hassles. Without the proper building and governmental permits, the following can happen:

  • You’ll be forced to pay fines and penalties
  • You’ll have to pay certain additional construction costs
  • Selling your home in the future may become difficult for you

If your renovation is being undertaken by a contractor, permits will most likely be taken care of. However, if you’re going the DIY route with remodeling your home, permits are one of the first things to resolve. Ignoring these permits may lead to an unnecessary legal and financial hassle. In the worst-case scenario, your entire renovation project will come to a standstill. To avoid these unfortunate circumstances, you do need to follow the law and avail all the required permits.

Also Read: Finding House Remodeling Contractor


Renovating or remodeling your home is a complex process, requiring you to pay attention to multiple factors at the same time. This is not to discourage you in any way from giving your home a fresh and new look. Although it’s tedious and time-consuming, remodeling your home is not a herculean task. However, before you get to the exciting bits of revamping, you’ll need to seek prior permission from building authorities and local government bodies. Of course, not all aspects of remodelling require a permit. So, you need to make a list of required permits, get them done to avoid a fiasco. Happy renovating!


What Happens If You Don't Get A Permit For A Remodel?

Permits are considered as a safeguard or security measure against homeowners. So, if you renovate your home without seeking prior permission, it will be deemed ‘unpermitted’. This status itself will create multiple problems if you ever try to sell your home.

Do I Need A Permit To Replace Kitchen Cabinets?

You need a permit in case to move or add plumbing, any electrical or mechanical component or any wall within the home. So, in simple terms, you do not need a permit to replace your kitchen cabinets as you’re removing the old ones with the new cabinets.

Also See: Packing Kitchen for Moving

Can I Renovate My Kitchen Myself?

Yes, you can if you have the will, dedication, and the right skills for it. Renovating the kitchen on your own does require days of sweat and effort. Any help from family and friends is a bonus! Doing it yourself can also reduce miscellaneous expenditures such as electrical and plumbing costs.

Can You Get A Permit After The Renovation Is Done?

Yes, you can file a permit once your home has been renovated. While this isn’t a big deal or uncommon, it may cost you a few extra charges. So, if you want to keep things within the budget, it’s better to get a permit before you start renovating.

See Also: Best Home Remodelling Ideas | What Fixes are Mandatory after a Home Inspection? | Guide to Remodeling Permits