How To Navigate Renovation Permits

Buying a house is a huge investment for a homeowner. Yet after some time, the home value goes down, forcing you to do some remodeling before you put it on the market. An interested buyer will want to see an excellently done house that is not outdated; this means you will want to change or add things that might need a building permit. The process of procuring a renovation permit is often exhausting and may take a huge chunk of your pocket, not to mention your time.

Homeowners must go through their building departments' local requirements to make major changes in their homes. Unfortunately, the permits and building codes also vary from state to county, so the regulations might differ. It is even frustrating since departments prioritize commercial contractors because this sector brings in a vast group of candidates, unlike renovations of personal homes.

According to Experts In Your Home, not all projects will, however, need a permit. Therefore, you must know your state's requirements and codes on how to cruise through the process of securing permits before you start the project.

The process of securing a permit

It's confusing not knowing whether you need a permit when you want to renovate your home. Unless you are familiar with such a job, the language and the process can be quite hard to understand. As Investopedia explains, the best way of knowing if your city requires one for home renovations is if you contact the building department. Are you making the improvements yourself, or do you plan to get a contractor? You need to know these aspects before proceeding, though.

So, the first step is to know the details of your project and outline the plan. This includes a project description, timeline, engineer, contractor name, etc. A licensed contractor will probably know whether you need to secure a permit for the project. However, it's good to avoid assumptions and side with the law. Some states take a couple of weeks for inspections to issue permits, which is too much effort for some homeowners.

Visit the building department, where you will submit your forms for approval and know their local requirements. For example, some municipalities have to issue an approval for your project plan before accepting your applications. After you download the form, fill it out, attach your plan and permit fees, submit it, and wait for the approval. Keep in mind that you can get the help of permit expediters.

Why get a building permit

To avoid violating building codes and regulations violations, it is better if you play safe. It saves you from avoidable consequences and lets you know if your home is safe and the job is well executed. states that a permit ensures a safe renovation of your home under the building and zoning codes. No homeowner wants to remodel a house, only for the authority to tear the whole project down. Failure to comply and secure the right permit will lead to this and even more.

Some reasons you would need a renovation permit include safely completing your home, avoiding penalties and fines, and easily securing mortgages from loan lenders. Moreover, most home insurance doesn't cover projects not permitted. Finally, failure to get a building permit can create difficulties when you sell your home. Putting your unpermitted house on the market won't sell, and you won't be able to start over the whole process of renovation to complete the project to code.

When to secure a building permit for renovation

Getting a permit depends on the kind of renovation you need to make as well as where you live. This especially applies when you want to make major changes in your house or include additional areas. It might be a garage, a deck, or an extra bedroom. According to RenoFi, whether it is a mechanical issue or a new project, your home must concur with the plan of your project. Any kind of remodeling that disrupts the normal system of the house will likely require a permit.

For instance, you must secure a permit when you want to install or replace a water heater. This also applies if the cost of the renovations is over a certain sum or you put up a certain height of fences. Likewise, you will have to get a permit when installing a new electrical or plumbing system. Other cases where you will need a building permit are installing and remodeling swimming pools, demolishing a section of your home, adding a wall, or re-doing your house's roof.

Home renovation projects that don't need a permit

Before you start worrying, you should know that you don't have to run to the nearest building department to make impactful changes. There are some remodels you can make to your house without question from the law. It is your home, after all. Investopedia explains that some of these projects are minor and don't need the attendance of contractors.

Projects like painting, floor and cabinet installation, and planting flowers do not require any building code. Although contractors know these key construction details, most homeowners are often unaware. Call the local permit officers to be clear on what you need a permit. It is always better to have facts at your fingertips rather than assuming.

Check out the websites of building departments around you for permit requirements. Imagine paying a fine for something you could have avoided or seeing your sweat wasting away because it is unpermitted. Violating building codes can hurt you and your possible prospective buyers.

How long does it take to get a permit

Whether you are the contractor or you plan to hire one, you need to ensure you apply for a permit. Especially if the changes you want to make are huge, such major jobs will take some time for the permits to be ready. According to, it could be a month or even longer, depending on the building department and if you need any more materials.

Sometimes getting assistance helps immensely, especially if you want the project done and finished faster. Since it is their field of expertise, contractors might know the ropes and facilitate faster processing of your applications by doing everything necessary on time. Moreover, during the whole process of renovation, you can seek shelter in some other place to escape the whole pressure.

However, this is only manageable if you hire someone to do the job for you. As much as applying for a building permit is stressful and time-consuming, you can navigate the whole process effortlessly and have your home as you desire even sooner.