Do I really need a permit?
You may be surprised to know that even some of the seemingly minor home improvement projects will still require a permit to be up to code. The last thing you want to do is make a large or even minor update to your home to later find out it is not built to code and thus will require you to take it all down and start over from scratch.
The requirements for what needs to get permitted and how to go about it can vary greatly from state to state, so please keep in mind this is a general guide and your best bet is to check your local requirements before moving forward with any project.
What improvements require permits
Some updates you may do to your home will almost always require a permit
You would assume you could add something as simple as a standard or privacy fence without a permit, and in most cities, you can, but a lot of municipalities do require a permit as well as your pre-build evaluations before starting any work. Most requirements will deal with the height and materials, but others will have requirements to ensure the posts are seated properly in the ground.
Retaining Walls:Similar to fencing, retaining walls are pretty simple and straightforward to add, but a lot of municipalities will require a permit depending on the size of your retaining wall. You will want to check your local requirements before adding any sort of retaining wall as the main thing they will want to ensure is that your water drainage will not be affected and possibly impact a neighbor.
Most locations will require a permit when adding a completely new roof to your home, but you may also need a permit even if you are patching a hole in the roof, depending on the size. Roofing permits are very important as an inspector can spot a new roof going on just by driving down your street.
Adding Electrical Outlets:
Again, you could think that doing basic electrical and/or wiring work may not require a permit, but often times it still is. A good rule of thumb is that any time you are doing electrical work behind drywall you most likely need a permit. The last thing you want to happen is adding another outlet to your home or garage only to find out when you sell it was not done up to code. Even worse than that, if an electrical fire starts in your home and it’s discovered it started at an unpermitted outlet, you may be on the hook for the entire cost of the repairs.
Window & Door Replacement:
When adding a window or door where there was not one before you will almost always require a permit. Most homeowners would be surprised to know that you may still require one for something as straightforward as just replacing the windows or doors as well. Most building departments generally only want to ensure the new doors or windows match the dimensions of the existing doors and windows, but you will want to check your local requirements to ensure.
Improvements that do not require a permit:
<Luckily, not all home improvement projects require a permit. Generally, cosmetic improvements such as painting, installing new cabinets or countertops, adding fans, and many other improvements you can do without having to apply for a permit.
What if I don’t get a permit:
Neglecting to get a permit that would have been required can turn into a major problem with the city. You could be subjected to large fees, your project could be suspended, and worse case, you may have to take down and destroy any work you had already completed to ensure it’s done to code. As we’ve mentioned, the requirements can vary greatly from city to city, so always best to double-check first so you don’t find yourself in hot water