When Do I Need a Permit to Remodel?

You have the vision and you can see it now, however, you’re not completely sure how to get there. You wish it was as easy as snapping your fingers or making a wish, but sometimes getting that brand-new kitchen or living room isn’t as easy as it seems. From the get-go, your project will likely face some challenges, and nowhere is this more true than in the permitting process.

For many projects, having a permit from the city government is essential because the changes to your home go on record. That way when you try to sell or refinance your home, buyers and lenders want to know that your remodels comply with building codes, so you’ll need to have proof of permits.

But how do you know when you need a permit? Determining if you need one for your project can be very difficult. Here are some general guidelines to think about when deciding whether you’ll need a permit:

Structural permits are required to:

  • Add a room
  • Finish an attic, garage or basement to make additional space
  • Cut a new window or door opening/widening an existing one
  • Move, remove or add walls
  • Apply roofing when all the old roofing is removed and new sheathing installed
  • Build a stairway
  • Build a retaining wall over 4 ft. high
  • Build a deck more than 30 inches above grade
  • Put up a fence more than 6 ft. in height

Electrical permits are required to install or alter any permanent wiring or electrical device.

Plumbing permits are required to:

  • Replace a water heater
  • Alter piping inside a wall or ceiling or beneath a floor
  • Replace piping that exceeds 5 ft in length
  • Plumbing in all new installations
  • Relocation of existing plumbing

Mechanical permits are required to:

  • Install or change any part of a heating or cooling system that must be vented into any kind of chimney, including unvented decorative appliances.
  • Install, alter or repair gas piping
  • Install bath fans, kitchen range exhaust and appliances that are required to be vented.
  • Install a wood stove, fireplace insert, pellet stove or related venting.



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