For the DIY remodeler, obtaining permits is expensive, time-consuming and sometimes frustrating, but for many home renovations it’s necessary and required. Home improvements that require permits are major changes that involve structural work, electrical, heating, and plumbing.
You need permits for many different types of home repair and improvement jobs. Simple repairs usually don’t call for permits, but major changes usually demand that you get the appropriate permits from the local building department.
Renovation permit cost
Local municipalities issue building permits based on city ordinances. Since there are no federal or state standards, building codes vary from city to city. Some municipalities charge 1% of the total construction costs to issue the permit and may take up to six weeks to complete the inspections. The only way to know if your city requires a permit for a remodeling job is to go to its website or call. If you hire a licensed contractor, he or she will know if the job requires a permit. As the homeowner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that all remodeling is completed lawfully. Don’t assume the permits were handled by the contractor.
According to the National Association of Realtors, failing to obtain the proper remodel permit process may complicate or cancel the sale of your home. During the home inspection or appraisal process, homeowners may have to show that the proper permits are on file. If the lending bank learns that remodeling work was done without securing permits, it will likely not make the loan.
For most permits, you must pay fees, typically based on the value of the project. Don’t overestimate the value of the work because it will cost you more in permit fees.
When do you need a permit to work on your house?
When it’s time to make improvements to your home, you may wonder whether you need a permit. For many projects, having a permit from the city government is crucial! Because, the changes to your home go on record with the city, and it ensures inspectors will check.
For example, if you rewire your home incorrectly, there could be exposed wires, potential for short circuiting and electrocution. This could lead to extensive repairs like wiring your home again, which could cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Also, when you try to sell or refinance your home, buyers and lenders want to know that your remodels comply with building codes, so you need to have proof via the permits from the city. So, if you are doing work without a permit you might have a big problems lately and you will have to pay much more money.
For many different types of home repair and improvement jobs, permits are required. Simple repairs like painting don’t need permits but, for major work like a plumbing you need to get permits.
Building Codes & Permits
Ask the building department to send you printed information about the ordinances that apply to your remodel and the various types of permits you will need.
Be aware that only certified electricians or plumbers are legally allowed to install or upgrade wiring and pipes in some regions. Check with your local building department before doing any of this work yourself.
Prepare for inspections. Read pertinent sections of the building code so you will know exactly what things the inspector will be looking for. If you hire subcontractors, ask them to be present when their work is inspected.
How Do I Get a Permit?
Apply for the permit through your local municipal government office. Depending on the complexity of the project, some permits are issued immediately, while others may require home inspection for the plans.
Renovation requires inspections of the work. For projects involving home additions, multiple inspections may be required. When you complete the work, a final inspection issue the permit.
Can i get a permit after remodeling? If building officials discover you are working without a permit, you could be legally in obligation to redo the work, before they will give it a completion or occupancy approval.
You probably won’t need a permit if you plan to:
- Install new floor coverings
- Replace doors or windows without altering the structure
- Change a countertop
- Replace a faucet
- Painting or wallpapering
- Installing hardwood floors or carpeting
- Minor electrical repairs that do not involve new service or moving existing service
Home Improvements That Require Permits
Not all fences require a permit, but municipalities often place height restrictions on non-permitted fences. The city of Chicago, for example, requires a permit on a fence five feet or higher, while other cities allow for higher structures.
Any alteration to the footprint of your home requires a permit. This includes bedrooms, room additions, most decks, garages and some sheds.
Do i need a permit to replace windows?
Replacing an existing window doesn’t require a permit, but cutting a hole for a new window generally does. This includes skylights and new doors.
If you’re installing new or removing existing plumbing, a permit is probably required. Any job that includes installing new electrical service to your home will also require a permit. Even something as simple as moving an outlet requires a permit.
Any project involving changes to the support system of the home requires a permit. This may include changes to load-bearing walls, decks, balconies and porches.
Most municipalities require a permit for siding projects.
If you want to replace your water heater, you will need a permit. You may also need a permit for ventilation system changes.
Additions and Remodels
Do you need permits to remodel a bathroom? How much kitchen remodel permit cost? Additions, new construction, remodels, repairs, replacements, upgrades and any other additions and remodeling projects totaling $5,000 or more will require a permit. This will include detached structures like garages, sheds and platforms. Exceptions to this rule include construction that’s less than 200 square feet, as well as painting, carpeting and wallpaper.
Exterior work may not require a permit
Adding a deck, cutting down trees and building new fences or retaining walls are all elements that may or may not require a permit depending on design, location and the extent of the work.
Exterior work on your home, like repairing siding and repainting, may or may not require a permit. It depends of the rules in your community.
Building codes ensure that your home will be safe for your family and any future families who live there. If you do work without a permit and building officials discovers later, they may require that you bring the work up to permit standard. Or, even dismantle and redo the work, before they will give it a completion or occupancy approval. A permit will also help you avoid headaches in the future. If building officials discover you have done work without a permit, you will be in obligation to disclose that you have remodeling without a permit, and the buyer could demand that you bring work up to code.