When Is a Permit Needed?

The answer to this question depends on local regulations regarding construction and renovation. In general, urban and suburban areas require more permits than rural areas; however, it is always better to be safe than sorry. The following are circumstances that frequently require building permits:

  • New Construction: Constructing or building a new home or other structure generally requires a permit. This category includes structures like guest houses, garages, storage buildings and gazebos. Many areas also require a special building permit for fences and privacy screens if they are set in concrete.

  • Additions: This includes adding new rooms or a sunroom to a home, but it also encompasses the construction of patios, porches and decks as well, depending on local codes. Enclosing a garage may be considered an addition because it would increase the heated space of the home.

  • Major Renovations: This can include everything from restoring an older home to a dated kitchen renovation or garage remodel to a dreary bathroom. Many new homeowners who have purchased a fixer-upper get in trouble here by not applying for permits to renovate their vintage home or by deviating too substantially from submitted renovation plans.

  • Structural Changes: Structural changes generally involve alterations to the bones of the structure, including the addition or removal of walls or finishing an attic or basement space. Demolition is another example. These permits can be especially important when changing load-bearing portions of the structure because if these are altered in an unsatisfactory way, the structure could be condemned as unsafe.

  • Electrical, Plumbing and Mechanical Work: These three areas encompass an enormous amount of potential construction or renovation work and may require separate forms in addition to the actual building permit. Some examples of this type of work include installing outdoor lighting, adding a hot tub or replacing garage doors. Depending on the area, some of these projects may require a permit. In other locations, they may not. The installation of a sophisticated home automation system may also require a permit.

How to Get a Permit

The homeowner should hire architect and engineer to obtain Construction Document. Then the homeowner or contractor must complete the appropriate forms and return them with fees to the local body that governs building permits depending on the property’s location. The permit may be immediately approved, require changes or undergo additional review. This can be a complex process. Construction should not begin until after final approval is granted and the building permit issued.


What Is a Permit Service?

A permit service is a company or person that manages the building permit application process on behalf of a homeowner or contractor. Professionals take care of filling out paperwork and keeping track of fees and inspections, using their superior knowledge of the permit requirements to streamline the process for clients, allowing them to focus on the more important and enjoyable parts of construction or renovation. A permit service can make certain that every form is completed properly and that every permit is exactly as it should be, preventing difficulty further along in the process. This can help homeowners avoid fines, stop-work orders or legal action regarding their projects. Overall, permit services take some of the stress and frustration out of the building equation.

The actual permit costs will depend on the location of the property and the type of work that will be performed there. For many homeowners, the process of applying for a permit may seem daunting, but it cannot be avoided without risking fines or worse. Ultimately, a permit service can make the process simpler and less stressful, and it reduces the potential for bad inspections or inadvertent permit violations.