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Home Improvement Projects That Require A Permit

General Expertise, Home Maintenance
By on May 16, 2016
Home Improvement Projects That Require A Permit

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When you’re ready to remodel or tackle a home improvement project, you may be wondering if you need a permit. Many home improvement projects require a permit from the city because changes to your home may violate city regulations. Also, when you go to sell or refinance your home, buyers and lenders will want to know that your remodel complies with code, so you need to have proof via the permits from the city.

If you fail to acquire a permit, you may be faced with costly consequences and headaches down the road. So, how do you determine which remodels require permits? Most contractors will know the ins and outs of your home project, however, as a homeowner, it’s important to be aware of the necessary permits to avoid fraud or future repairs.

While some of the smaller home improvement projects don’t require a permit, our friends at LeafFilter have gathered the top home improvement projects that do.

Permit For Deck

Additions to Your Home

If you’re looking to add a detached structure such as a shed or garage, a permit must be obtained. If your home improvement project is less than $5,000, you won’t need a permit for your project. Also, construction that is less than 200sf will not require a permit either. 

Structural Changes

Any type of structural changes to your home will require a permit. Changes such as load-bearing walls, balconies, decks, foundation flooring, roofs and porches are all different situations that will require a permit.

Permit For Windows

Plumbing & Electrical Work

When installing new plumbing or replacing plumbing, you’ll most likely need a permit. Additionally, if you're installing or replacing electrical wiring, this will also need a permit. Smaller repairs, like installing light fixtures or repairing an overhead lamp, will not need a permit. If you’re unsure whether or not your project requires a permit, check with your city government for more information.

Window Installations

You may not realize it, but you may need a permit for your new windows! When you install new windows that are bigger than your old windows, you’ll need to obtain a permit to cut holes for them. This will include cutting a hole for a new skylight or adding windows to frame a door. A window pro will need to acquire these permits before beginning construction.

Heating Work

A heating pro may need to obtain a permit from your heater when doing work in your home. If you replace the water heater, for example, you’ll need a permit. Changes to any ventilation within your gas or wood fireplace will require a permit. Some maintenance projects like filter changes, motor lubrication or equipment cleaning will not require a permit.

Permit for Fence

Adding A Fence

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When you repair or install a fence, you’ll need to check with your city to confirm height restrictions. Some cities have certain heights that fences can’t go past. What a bummer it would be to get a fence installed only to find out that it’s too tall! Be sure to have a fencing contractor check the restrictions. This will help you avoid headaches in the future.


Most city governments require a permit for siding projects. Check with your specific municipality for more information before beginning your project.

Renovations that Don’t Require A Permit

If you’re painting or wallpapering, installing hardwood floors or carpeting, putting in new countertops or replacing a faucet, you’re in luck! You will not need to obtain a permit.

Getting A Permit

Acquiring A Permit

Now that you know you may need to obtain a permit, you may be wondering about how to get one. You can apply for the permit through your local municipal government office. Depending on how complex the project is, your permit may take a bit longer. Someone from the government office may want to inspect your plans to ensure they comply with code. 

A permit will cost $100 or less for smaller projects like installing a new toilet. For larger projects that involve additions like adding a bedroom, your permit could run more than $1,000. Ask your contractor if the cost is included in the contract. If you’re curious about the cost of the permit for your next project, some municipalities offer fee calculators online, so you can work that into your budget.

You should also be aware that during the renovation, inspections of the work will likely be required. Larger projects, like home additions, may require multiple inspections. Then, a final inspection will usually take place once the project is completed.

Remember to request copies of all permits issued for your project. Keep them on file as they’ll come in handy when you try to sell your home.


Each municipality has different rules, so it’s important to check with your local governance about what is required. You can check your city’s website or call for more information. Regardless if you hire someone to do the work, it’s still your responsibility to ensure that the project has the proper permits. That’s why it’s important to do your due diligence and acquire the appropriate permits. Don’t rely on your contractor to get all of the necessary paperwork for your next home improvement project!

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