Do You Need a Building Permit for Your Remodel?

Do You Need a Building Permit for Your Remodel?

In the excitement of planning for your remodel, it’s easy to overlook one of the most basic elements: a building permit. Not every job will need one, but if you do, it’s important to get it sorted as early as possible—specifically before the project begins.

If you move ahead on a project without having the necessary permits in hand, government officials may find out and halt the project. This can land you in the unfortunate position of having a non-functional space while you wait for the permits to be granted. Plus, you may also face a fine, which is the last thing you want to add to the overall cost of your home improvement project.

So, how do you know if you need a building permit for your remodel? Here is a quick guide to help you answer that question.

Do I need a building permit for my remodeling job?

In general, a building permit is required for significant repair work and changes that affect a building’s footprint or structure. This may include projects such as:

  • Making changes to electrical or plumbing systems
  • Altering existing walls to include new windows
  • Adding or removing supporting, load-bearing walls
  • Installing in-ground pools, porches, and decks
  • Replacing an entire roof
  • Building a shed in the backyard
  • Laying a concrete driveway, slab, or sidewalk

Building permits are not required for small repairs and upgrades that are considered aesthetic only, such as:

  • Installing new flooring
  • Painting interior and exterior walls
  • Replacing sinks, faucet fixtures, and toilets
  • Replacing countertops

More information on projects that do and do not require permits can be found here.

Who pulls the permit?

If you’ve hired a contractor to carry out your repair or remodeling project, then your best bet is to have them “pull,” or apply for, the required permits. An experienced contractor will know the ins and outs of the project and be able to answer any detailed questions that may come up during the process. When you’re vetting potential contractors and asking the important questions before deciding who to hire, be sure to ask if they’ll handle the permitting process.

If you plan to do the work on your own, then you’ll have to pull the permits for yourself. This is totally doable, just be warned that it may take some additional time and patience on your part since it can be a hassle to track down the right permitting office to contact and provide the requested details.

How to get a permit

The first step to pulling a permit is to call your local permitting office. Be sure to have the details of your project worked out in advance since the official handling your application will need to know specifics to determine whether a permit can be granted or not.

If you’d prefer to gather information in a discreet and anonymous way before formally requesting a permit, you can do that. In most cases, permitting officials are willing to discuss the rules and regulations without you having to provide your identity or address. However, the advice and guidance offered on this basis do not qualify as approval. In order to begin work, you still have to formally apply for a permit.

What happens if you skip getting a permit?

When it comes to your home, it pays to do your due diligence for a couple of important reasons.

The first is that the permit is there to protect your own safety. In the process of applying for a permit, you may find out that the work you’re planning to do on your property is unsafe. For example, there may be city electrical or plumbing lines running right under the area where you want to dig for your concrete pool. Going ahead without the necessary approval would not only put your project in jeopardy, but it could also cause serious damage to these public assets.

Another worst-case scenario is that you knock down a load-bearing wall as part of your kitchen expansion and unintentionally compromise the entire supporting structure of your home. This could have very expensive repercussions, not to mention the danger it poses to anyone inside the home.

The other reason why you should never skip getting a permit is that your decision could come back to haunt you at any time. Home remodeling jobs tend to be hard to hide, and inspectors can come along to look into what you’re doing. If they discover that work was performed without a permit, they can insist on opening up your drywall to look at the electrical or plumbing work (at your expense) to verify that it’s all up to code. They can also require you to get a permit before continuing and add a fine on top of it.

Even if you can get the work done without attracting notice, it can come up in the future when you try to put your home on the market. Home inspectors compare the structure of the home against public records to make sure that everything is on the up and up. If your home was remodeled without the required permits, it can put some serious obstacles in the way of selling your home.

Work with McManus Kitchen and Bath

At McManus Kitchen and Bath, we know how stressful it can be to plan and prepare for a remodeling or home repair project. Let us handle the details, like pulling permits, so you can focus on looking forward to your beautiful new upgrade. Contact us today to get started.

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