PermitIn order to legally make certain renovations to your home, you will have to first obtain a permit from the city saying that it is alright. Something as simple as adding onto your deck or transforming your garage can require a permit before a contractor can begin work. It’s important that you learn what projects require a permit, how to get one and how much they cost.

Why Do I Need a Permit? It’s My Home

Some people make the mistake of making home improvements to their properties without first getting approval from the city. This can lead to fines that can be in the thousands and you’d likely have to have the renovation inspected to ensure that it is safe. The purpose of a permit is for the city to ensure that property owners aren’t making unsafe renovations to their properties. This is to protect the property owner and future owners of that property who decide to purchase it. Then if you end up having a fire or other accident occur due to the renovation, without a permit, your insurance company may not cover it.

What Home Improvements Require a Building Permit?

Minor home improvements don’t require you to get a building permit, such as installing insulation in your walls, building a foot that is less than 6′ or installing new doors and windows (unless you will be cutting openings to add more windows or doors). The renovations that would require a building permit includes additions like bedrooms, decks, bathrooms, fences and pools. Whenever a project involves plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems, a building permit is needed. Others include expansion of kitchens, re-roofing, converting your garage and basement finishing.

How Do I Get a Building Permit for My Project?

If this is your first home renovation, then it’s likely that you don’t know where to start in the process of getting a building permit. All you have to do is look online for your city’s or county’s government building permits department. You will have to explain the home improvement that you’re planning and the contractor that you are planning to hire for the job. You will be asked questions about the square footage and whether the area is heated. Everything can’t be done over the phone – you’ll have to go down to the building to pay for and pick up the permit. Some counties and cities allow you to apply for one online, where you can sometimes pay using a credit or debit card. Another option is to have your contractor obtain the permit for you.

What is the Cost for a Building Permit?

The cost of a building permit will be calculated based upon the type of project, the amount of inspections that will be needed and the square footage of the project. Different areas charge different rates, so you will have to check within your locality. Building permits last for 180 days in most cases, but you can file for an extension if needed.

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