How to Get Permits for Home Remodeling

It’s important to obtain the necessary permits before starting any home remodeling project. Here's how to get everything you need for your home project.

By Jamie Goodwin

 

Before starting any renovation project, you need to know how to get permits for home remodeling. That’s right. You may need a permit before you start redoing your kitchen or bathroom or finishing your basement. Here are some answers to the frequently asked questions people ask about permits for home remodeling.

 

What is a Building Permit? Why Do You Need One?

A building permit proves that your home improvement project follows current building codes and standards. The building permit needs to be approved by your local permit/inspections authority at the state, county, city, and/or town level. 

 

The permit guarantees that construction is uniform and safe. It also helps determine the value of your property. In fact, many lenders won’t approve home loans if the house doesn’t have the proper permits for remodeling projects.

 

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Which Home Improvement Projects Require a Permit?

Smaller home improvement projects don't usually require a permit. But, you should plan on completing an application whenever you make any major renovation or changes to the structure of the home. For example, some of the projects that may require a permit include adding or removing the following:

 

  • Fences
  • Electrical wiring or circuits
  • Decks

 

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  • Roofs
  • Rooms
  • Furnaces or water heaters

 

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  • Fireplaces
  • Driveways
  • Garages or carports

 

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  • Exterior doors
  • Windows or skylights
  • Load-bearing walls

 

Before beginning a home remodeling project, you should always check with the local permitting board and with your contractor.

 

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Which Home Improvement Projects DON’T Require a Permit?

Smaller home improvement projects usually don’t require a permit. This includes painting or wallpapering walls, carpeting, updating the cabinets or countertops, tiling, cleaning pipes, adding a portable HVAC system, or constructing a fence less than 6 feet in height or a retaining wall less than 3 feet tall. One of the best home remodeling tips in regards to building permits is to check with the local inspections/permit authority if you’re unsure whether or not you need one.

 

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How Do You Get a Permit?

To get a permit, you need to complete an application, attach the necessary construction documents, and pay the accompanying fees. Wait to hear whether the application was approved or requires further review. In some cases, you may need to make certain changes to your plans before you can receive your permit.

 

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How Much Does a Permit Generally Cost?

Renovation permit costs differ by state. It could cost less than $100 or several thousands of dollars. In most cases, the permit fees reflect a percentage of the total costs for the entire remodeling project. Therefore, pricier renovations may have a higher cost for permits. Check with your local building permit authority to find out what you should expect to pay as you plan for your home improvement project. 

 

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It’s important to obtain the necessary permits before starting any home remodeling project. If you hire a contractor, find out whether or not he or she will get any necessary permits for you. If not, be sure to take the steps to get the permits as soon as possible so you can legally make the changes you want to your home.