When Do You Need a Permit for Your Renovation Project? (2024)

Home Improvement

Interior Remodel


Lee Wallender

When Do You Need a Permit for Your Renovation Project? (1)

Lee Wallender

Lee has over two decades of hands-on experience remodeling, fixing, and improving homes, and has been providing home improvement advice for over 13 years.

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Updated on 09/07/22

Reviewed by

Kelly Bacon

Reviewed byKelly Bacon

Kelly Bacon is a licensed general contractor with over 40 years of experience in construction, home building and remodeling, and commercial building. He is a member of The Spruce Home Improvement Review Board.

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Fact checked by

Emily Estep

When Do You Need a Permit for Your Renovation Project? (3)

Fact checked byEmily Estep

Emily Estep is a plant biologist and journalist who has worked for a variety of online news and media outlets, writing about and editing topics including environmental science and houseplants.

Learn more about The Spruce'sEditorial Process

When Do You Need a Permit for Your Renovation Project? (4)

In This Article

  • Permit Usually Required

  • Permit Might Be Required

  • Permit Not Required?

  • Definitive Answers

  • Play It Safe

Determining if you need a building permit for your home remodeling project can be difficult, becausepermitting departments often frustrate homeowners' attempts to sort out rules. Departments traditionally have prioritized commercial interests over those of homeowners doing their own work. Often it is a bias borne from necessity: contractors, builders, and the trades represent an overwhelmingly large majority of applicants.

While all cities and counties are different, certain themes do emerge to clarify permitting requirements. These themes can be generalized as public and personal safety, plumbing, electrical, and natural gas. Projects touching on those areas will require permits. With changing safety codes and a need for greater revenue, cities and counties shift more projects to the "Permit Required" list.

Permit Usually Required

Most localities will require a permit for these home projects:

WallsDemolishing a load-bearing wall
RoofChanging house's roofline
LayoutWhenever you expand the house in any way or alter the house's envelope, you will need a permit.
ElectricalInstalling any new electrical wiring or adding circuits
FencesInstalling a fence over a certain height, such as 6 feet, triggers a permit. Most municipalities will consider an add-on such as shrubbery to be part of the fence.
DemolitionParking your roll-off dumpster on a public street will require a permit. This is one of the rare permitting instances where your own property is not involved.
DecksBuilding decks over a certain height, such as 30 inches above grade.
SewerDoing anything with a sewer line typically requires a permit. This permit action concerns not just your personal safety, but the health of those serviced by the main sewer line down from your house.
AdditionBuilding an addition will always require a permit.
Driveway or GarageBuilding a garage or even a carport
Windows and DoorsExterior doors, windows, and skylights that require a new opening
Fireplace and ChimneyFireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and inserts nearly always require a permit because of the potential for fires. Chimney cleaning will be an exception, though.
GaragesGarage conversions
HVACInstalling a new furnace or air conditioner
Water HeatersInstallation of a new water heater
PlumbingNew hose bibs for the outside of your house
RoofingRe-roofing involving structural elements, including but not limited to sheathing, skylights, change of roof pitch and change of roof material where the total weight exceeds 10 pounds per square foot.
Swimming PoolInstalling either an in-ground or an above-ground pool requires multiple permits.

Permit Might Be Required

PlumbingMoving a sink, as this entails running new plumbing supply and drain lines
WallsDemolishing a non-load-bearing wall usually requires a permit. Even though this type of work does not structurally compromise your home, some permitting agencies want to be overly cautious and make certain that do-it-yourself homeowners do not undertake dangerous repairs.
Doors and WindowsReplacing doors or windows on a one-for-one basis
LandscapingCutting down a tree on your property
LandscapingRetaining walls more than 4 feet tall tend to require permits, as retaining walls have a tendency to topple above this height.

Permit Often Not Required

As time goes by, more non-permitted actions become permit-required. In some municipalities, the following actions may still steer clear of permit requirements.

RoofLaying in a new roofof similar materials.
DemolitionParking your roll-off dumpster on your own property. However, if you happen to live in an association-controlled neighborhood, make sure you do not run afoul of your own housing association's rules.
FlooringPutting in any kind of hard flooring(wood, laminate, vinyl, etc.) or carpeting
PlumbingReplacing an existing sink
PaintingInterior or exterior painting
KitchenReplacing your countertops
SidingFreshening up the exterior with new siding, as long as it is non-structural
ElectricalMinor electrical work, such as replacing a light fixture or an electrical outlet, often does not require a permit. Replacing a circuit breaker in-kind will not require a permit either.
DecksDecks below a certain height (such as 30 inches) are not considered to be a safety hazard and therefore do not require permits.
ExteriorsOne-story detached buildings like workshops and storage sheds as long as they do not receive electrical or plumbing services
LandscapingBuilding tree houses under a certain size and height may not require a permit. However, habitable or live-in tree houses will need a permit.
FencesFences below a certain height, such as 6 feet
Property BoundariesPermitting departments are not concerned with matters involving your boundary with your neighbor. Disputes are civil matters for the courts.
LandscapingRetaining walls below 4 feet tall
DecksDecking surface replacement, as long as you are not replacing structural materials
Bathrooms and KitchensBathroom and kitchen fixture replacements without plumbing line modifications such as sinks and toilets
AppliancesAppliance replacement in the same location as long as you are not modifying gas, plumbing lines, or electrical circuits such as dishwashers, ranges, ovens, gas logs, washers, and dryers.

When Do You Need a Permit for Your Renovation Project? (5)

For Definitive Answers

A phone call to your local permitting office is the best way to determine if you need a permit. Many permit officers are happy to discuss permitting issues with anonymous callers as a way to avoid future code violations. Even then, the only definitive way to know if a permit is required is often to apply for a permit.

Play It Safe

It is always best to check (and double-check) whether you need a permit. Most counties and cities have websites for the building department. They usually have a FAQ section for permitting requirements. If inspectors find out that a project was done without a permit, they could require the removal of drywall or other surfaces to inspect the newly installed wiring or plumbing, for example. They could then require that the project be permitted, which could include a fine.

Also consider whether you'll be selling your home in the future. Home real estate inspectors often check public records to make sure new work has been permitted, and if you did work on your home without any necessary permits, it could hurt your prospects.

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When Do You Need a Permit for Your Renovation Project? (2024)


When Do You Need a Permit for Your Renovation Project? ›

Making any major changes that alter the footprint of your home requires a permit, These changes may include decks, certain fences, certain plumbing and electrical work, as well as siding projects. Failure to obtain permits—even if you hire a contractor—can stall your project or complicate the sale of your home.

Do I need a permit to remodel my bathroom in Washington state? ›

Adding or remodeling a bathroom normally requires building, plumbing, electrical and mechanical permits. The building permit is required if you are adding or relocating walls or have removed a wall and/or ceiling finish to the studs and joists.

What requires a building permit in Georgia? ›

A permit is required whenever an owner or contractor intends to: construct new, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish a building or structure, or install or alter any electrical, gas, mechanical, or plumbing system. In addition, utility construction and site development also require permits.

Do I need a permit to remodel my kitchen in Arizona? ›

Permits for building, mechanical, plumbing and electrical work are required.” If a permit is required, the work will be inspected during construction and after completion to ensure compliance with the city's building codes.

What can a homeowner do without a permit in Florida? ›

Work that does not require a permit is typically cosmetic, such as:
  • Painting*
  • Tile*
  • Floor coverings including carpet, vinyl, wood, and more.
  • Shelving.
  • Cabinet Work.
  • Wall papering.

What happens if you build without a permit in Washington state? ›

If you build without a permit or fail to get a final inspection approval, we may fine you or take other enforcement action against you.

Do you need permission to change a bathroom? ›

As with re-fitting kitchens, there's normally no need for planning permission unless the building is listed. Building Regulations are only likely to apply where you decide to add a new bathroom, for example in a former bedroom or storage area. This may include some or all of the following: New drainage.

How big can I build without a permit in Georgia? ›

What size shed can I build without a permit in Georgia? If you decide to build a shed without applying for a permit, then you have to follow the requirements for a shed without a permit. It must be less than 120 square feet in area and not more than one story (20 feet in height).

Do I need a permit to finish my basement in Georgia? ›

All new buildings or building additions require issuance of a building permit and, in most cases, any remodeling that involves structural work (moving or eliminating walls) or any work which increases the living space of your home (finishing attic or basement areas) will require a building permit.

How much is a building permit in GA? ›

Construction Value
Construction ValueFee
$1 to $25,000$14 for each $1,000 or fraction thereof (minimum $150).
$25,000 to $50,000$250 for the first $25,000 plus $10 for each additional $1,000 or fraction thereof.
$50,001 to $100,000$500 for the first $50,000 plus $8 for each additional $1,000 or fraction thereof.
3 more rows

Do I need permission to change my kitchen? ›

If you are a tenant of a property and are looking to do something to update the kitchen, you must first speak to the landlord. In all tenant contracts, you require the permission of the landlord to do anything to your home.

Can I build a guest house on my property Phoenix? ›

The rules for an ADU depend on the ADU ordinances in your area. Some regions do not allow ADUs, while Phoenix does in most cases, referring to them a "guest house." If your property is large enough to support an ADU, there's a good chance that you can build one.

Do I need a permit to replace kitchen cabinets in California? ›

Unless you are doing a simple upgrade, like repainting existing cabinets or changing a countertop, you will likely need one permit or more to make sure what you do is legal and safe.

What happens if you get caught remodeling without a permit in Florida? ›

Failure to obtain a permit before commencing a project can result in a penalty. The fees are set out in Section 109 of the Florida Building Code as authorized in Florida Statutes 553.80. Normally the fee imposed is double the normal permit fee.

Do you need a permit to remodel a bathroom in Florida? ›

In certain cases – such as installing new flooring, paint, countertops, and faucets – it won't be necessary to go through the permitting process. But generally, making any type of major change that alters the floorplan of your home will require that you first obtain a permit.

Can you sell a house with unpermitted work in Florida? ›

Florida sellers are required by law to disclose unpermitted work at the time of the sale of the home. If the seller does not do so, you can be entitled to go after them with legal action to recoup the cost of the permits, changes that need to be made to bring a remodel up to code, and legal fees.

What is the largest structure you can build without a permit? ›

The quick and simple answer is: you usually don't need a permit if the shed is 120 square feet or less. In California, most jurisdictions have adopted the 120 square foot rule. If your shed area is larger than 120 square feet, it needs a building permit.

How big can you build without a permit in Washington state? ›

Building a structure larger than 200 square feet without the required permits.

Do I need a permit to replace my water heater in Washington state? ›

When an electric water heater is being installed to replace an existing water heater: A Plumbing Permit is required. Additionally... A Mechanical Permit is required when existing gas lines that served a previous gas water heater are being removed or capped.

Do I need permission to add a toilet in my house? ›

Planning permission is generally not required to add a bathroom into a property, assuming it is not forming part of an extension to the building. The rules do vary across the country though, and the law will be different for people living in a listed building or within a conservation area.

Can you turn a porch into a bathroom? ›

Enclosing an existing porch will require excellent insulation to build a bathroom. Running all plumbing and building the bathroom is not a difficult process, but you want the room to stay cozy in winter. Look at ways to wrap the porch foundation with siding, for example, instead of leaving it open underneath.

Is it rude to not let contractors use your bathroom? ›

Your bathroom is one of the most personal places in your house, so it makes sense that you may have reservations about who uses it. However, it's good etiquette to allow contractors to use your bathroom while they're working.

Can a homeowner do their own electrical work in Georgia? ›

In Georgia, an electrical permit is a requirement for all new constructions. You also need to secure this permit if you plan to make electrical changes to an existing home. You need to get this permit before you can even change or install new electrical wiring and devices.

Can you turn a shed into a house in Georgia? ›

Can I live in a shed? In most areas, a structure built for the purpose of storage cannot be used as residential housing. If you plan on converting a shed to living quarters, you'll probably have to change the structure so it meets code requirements like those for tiny houses.

What can I build without a permit in Georgia? ›

In most places, you will not need a permit for the following changes made to your home.
  • Floor installation.
  • Countertop Installation.
  • Hanging wallpaper and painting a room.
  • Installing trim work such as baseboards, crown molding, panels, and more.
  • Minor landscaping to add flowers and such.

Do I need a permit to build a deck in Georgia? ›

If no structural work is to be performed, roofing and siding work (i.e. replacing shingles, repairing siding) may be done without a permit. 3. Do I need a permit to build or replace my deck or finish my basement? Yes.

Do you need a permit to replace a water heater in Georgia? ›

Do I need a permit to replace my water heater? Yes, water heaters are under the purview of the plumbing and gas codes requiring permits and inspections to ensure a safe installation. State licensing is also required if a tradesperson is completing the work.

Can a homeowner pull a building permit in Georgia? ›

Who Can Obtain a Permit. Building - Single-family permits will be issued to contractors. Single-family permits can be issued to the homeowner if he is going to own and occupy the house. Electrical, Plumbing, and Mechanical Trades - Require certificates of competency from the Georgia State Industry Licensing Board.

How long does it take to get a building permit in GA? ›

Step 3: Permit Issuance

Most building permits can be issued without delay. Occasionally, the permit review system may take up to three days, depending on the complexity of the project, before the permit can be issued.

Do I need a permit to build a shed in GA? ›

A building permit is not required for storage sheds that are one story in height and less than 120 square feet (s.f.). If the shed is 120 s.f. or greater (or more than one story), a building permit will be needed.

What is the smallest house you can build in Georgia? ›

How tiny can a house be in Georgia?
  • Be a minimum size of 120 square feet.
  • Be a minimum of 320 square feet of land.
  • Have ceilings at least 6'8” tall.
  • Have at least one habitable room containing an openable window and a closet.
  • Rooms not meant for sleeping must be at least 70 square feet.
Jun 9, 2023

What can I build without planning permission? ›

Nearly all internal works such as loft conversions, garage conversions, new staircases, bathroom refurbishment, kitchen renovation, or rewiring, do not require planning permission. But, do check if you want to do anything to a listed property or you live within a Conservation area.

Can you renovate a kitchen while living in the house? ›

Yes, it is possible to live through a kitchen remodel, with a few key remodeling tips in hand. Remodeling your kitchen is a smart move and you'll be pleased that you took the leap and did it.

Can I renovate my kitchen? ›

Whether you want to renovate your kitchen, modernize your living room, or create a cozy bedroom, Remodeled.ai can help you achieve your design goals. Because: Remodeled.ai is a freemium service. Remodeled.ai is easy to use.

Can I turn my shed into a guest house? ›

When it comes to turning large storage sheds into makeshift guest homes, it's quite a bit of work. However, as long as you do your research, make a plan, set a budget, and hire professionals to help, you should be well on your way to a new guest space.

What qualifies as a guest house? ›

What is a guest house? In the context of private homes in the United States, a guest house is a small dwelling on a property intended for guests to stay comfortably overnight in their own private area. They are separate dwellings from the main building on a property.

What is it called when a house has a guest house? ›

But guesthouses (also known as “accessory dwelling units,” or ADUs) aren't all money and in-law magic. Purchasing a property with an ADU can be a legal and financial nightmare if you're not prepared.

Do you need a permit to replace drywall in California? ›

Permit is required if sheets are installed; especially on the ceiling where the drywall can fall down.

What home renovations require a permit in California? ›

According to the California Building Standards Code, no building or structure may be erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished unless a separate permit for each building or structure has first been obtained from the building official.

Do you need a permit to replace siding in California? ›

A Building Permit and Zoning Review are required to replace or repair stucco and siding. Be prepared to provide the following: Completed Building Permit Application. Construction plans (as applicable)

Whose responsibility is it to get a building permit in California? ›

The property owner or a contractor licensed by the State of California can obtain permits. Tenants may obtain a permit if they have the written permission of the property owner and the property owner signs the permit documents.

Do you need a permit to replace flooring in Florida? ›

All commercial properties, including condominium units, are required to obtain a permit for flooring (tile, wood, marble). All requirements are in accordance to Florida Building Code, Chapter 12 , Section 1207.3 -Structure‐borne sound.

Do you need a permit to stucco your house in Florida? ›

The addition of new, or replacement of existing stucco at an existing residential structure. General maintenance does not require a permit.

Do I need a license to replace a toilet in Florida? ›

Plumbing – Virtually all plumbing work requires licensing. A handyman may add a water filter to a faucet, but even installing a dishwasher is not allowed. Electrical work – Similar to plumbing, it's illegal to perform virtually any electrical work in Florida without a contractor license.

Do you need a permit to replace AC unit in Florida? ›

The Florida Building Code requires licensed HVAC contractors to obtain a building permit to install, remove, or replace an air conditioning system. This permit ensures that the system in your home or business is installed correctly, circulates good indoor air quality, cools your property efficiently, and more.

Can I renovate my own house in Florida? ›

Florida State law requires construction to be done by licensed contractors. You have applied for a permit under an exemption to that law. The exemption allows you, as the owner of your property, to act as your own contractor with certain restrictions even though you do not have a license.

What requires a construction permit in Florida? ›

Section 105.1 of the Florida Building Code states that a permit is required to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy or occupant content of a building or structure or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing ...

Do you have to be a contractor to pull a permit in Florida? ›

Obtaining A Permit

Florida requires that permits be only issued to licensed contractors. Though, there are exceptions. Property owners are able to pull a permit under their own name if they occupy the property and use it personally.

Can a Florida residential contractor pull permits? ›

Building permits are pulled by the person doing the work. This can be a general contractor or builder, heating company, plumbing contractor, or electrical contractor. It can also be pulled by a homeowner if he is doing the work unless there is a municipal ordinance that states otherwise.

What can a homeowner do without a permit near Seattle WA? ›

Unless you're in an environmentally critical area, the following projects usually don't require a permit.
  • Minor repairs or alterations. ...
  • Miscellaneous work. ...
  • Buildings and landscaping. ...
  • Platforms, walks, and driveways. ...
  • Roofing and siding replacement. ...
  • Dish and panel antennas. ...
  • Underground storage tanks.

Do you need a permit to remodel a bathroom in Oregon? ›

Permits are required for all new construction as well as for specific alterations to existing homes, which include structural, plumbing, mechanical and electrical changes. The person performing the work, whether it is a homeowner or contractor, is responsible for obtaining all necessary permits.

How do I get a building permit in Washington state? ›

  1. Research. Get your property information. Find property information to help you plan your project. ...
  2. Start Permit Application. Start your application. ...
  3. Submit plans. Get your project screened. ...
  4. Get permit. Pay final fees. ...
  5. Schedule inspection. Request an inspection. ...
  6. Complete project. Close your permit.

How much does a building permit cost in Washington state? ›


$40 permit fee for the first $500 of value, plus $2 for each additional $100 or fraction thereof, to and including $2000.

Do I need a permit to build a deck in Washington state? ›

Decks - In general, decks require permits; however, decks not exceeding 200 square feet in area, that are not more than 30 inches above grade at any point, are not attached to a dwelling and do not serve a required exit door are exempt from permit.

Do you need a permit to replace a water heater in Washington state? ›

When an electric water heater is being installed to replace an existing water heater: A Plumbing Permit is required. Additionally... A Mechanical Permit is required when existing gas lines that served a previous gas water heater are being removed or capped.

Can a homeowner do their own electrical work in Oregon? ›

Do I need an electrical permit? Some important reminders: y You must be both the owner and the occupant of the home to obtain a permit to do the electrical work yourself. y If you do not own or do not intend to live in the unit, a licensed electrical contractor must do the work.

What can I build in Oregon without a permit? ›

Work that doesn't require a residential building permit
  • Paint buildings.
  • Install insulation in existing homes.
  • Install storm windows.
  • Install window awnings, not more than 54 inches deep and not in a design zone, that are supported by an exterior wall and do not project beyond the property line.

Can a homeowner pull a plumbing permit in Oregon? ›

Along with homeowners working on their own homes, only licensed plumbers and electricians are legally allowed to do plumbing or electrical work in Oregon.

Can I redo my bathroom myself? ›

Tackling a bathroom remodel yourself can be hard work. With detailed planning, a good budget and the right help, it's a project you can do yourself. Make sure to research your DIY bath remodel. Stick to your budget but be flexible.

What is the difference between a bathroom remodel and renovation? ›

Definitions. Technically, a renovation and remodel are defined differently. While a remodel changes the form of something (like adding a new shower to an existing bathroom), a renovation focuses more on restoring something old into good repair (fixing up a creaky floor, for example).

How much is a building permit in Oregon? ›

Frequently asked questions
TierValueBuilding Permit Fee
2$2,001-25,000$85 + $7.40 per $1,000 of valuation over $2,000
3$25,001-50,000$255.20 + $6.72 per $1,000 of valuation over $25,000
4$50,001-100,000$423.20 + $4.48 per $1,000 of valuation over $50,000
5Over $100,001$647.20 + $3.75 per $1,000 of valuation over $100,000
1 more row

How long does it take to get a construction permit in Washington state? ›

Commercial/Industrial Building Permits: 6-8 weeks. Commercial/Industrial LU Permits: (Site Plan Review, Civil Plans, Landscape Plans to obtain a Grading Permit) 90-120 days.


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