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When Do You Need a Permit?

When Do You Need a PermitSummer is a great time to complete home improvement projects. Both sellers and recent buyers may opt to make upgrades because they can add value to a home. But it’s essential that you understand which projects may require a building permit. If you don’t get the proper permits before completing the work, you could run into trouble when you’re selling. Here’s what you need to know to avoid problems down the line.

Why are permits necessary?

Although obtaining permits can be a real headache, it’s a step you cannot skip. If you fail to get the permits you need, then you may jeopardize your home sale in the future. During the home inspection and appraisal, you will need to show all the permits that you have on file. If you completed a project without a permit, the lender may not finance the loan for the buyer.

Who is responsible for getting the permit?

Even if you’ve hired contractors for the job, do not assume that they’ve secured the proper permits. While the contractor can help advise you on whether or not a permit is necessary and will often pull the permit for you, be sure you follow up so that you know your project follows the letter of the law.

What projects need a permit?

Not all home improvement projects require a permit. Each municipality creates its own building codes, so you will need to confirm with them whether or not you need a permit. If your project changes the structure of the home or if it may create hazardous conditions, then you will probably need a permit. Jobs that are most likely to require a permit include:

  • Structural changes – this includes demolishing a load-bearing wall or making changes to decks, porches, balconies or roofs.
  • Changing the footprint – this includes adding rooms, garages, or decks. It could even include adding a shed.
  • Fences – installing or repairing a fence may require a permit, which is most likely if your fence exceeds the height restrictions.
  • Adding windows – if your new windows are larger than your existing windows, you’ll need a permit to make those structural adjustments.
  • Plumbing and electrical – this includes adding both plumbing and electrical systems.
  • Demolition – you’ll need a permit if you intend to place a dumpster on a public street.
  • Water heaters – if you are installing or replacing a water heater, you need a permit.
  • Siding – this includes making changes to your home’s siding.

What projects don’t need a permit?

While may updates will require that you get a permit, there are many home improvement projects you can complete without one. These could include:

  • Minor electrical repairs.
  • Installing a new roof made of similar materials to the existing roof.
  • Replacing kitchen or bathroom countertops.
  • Painting the interior or the exterior.
  • Installing fences that don’t exceed the height restrictions.
  • Installing retaining walls that are less than four feet tall.
  • Replacing faucets, sinks or toilets.
  • Installing new appliances as long as you do not need to modify the hook-ups.

What do you do if you don’t know?

If you don’t know whether or not your project requires a permit, then you need to ask. The best place to contact is your local permitting office.

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