Home renovations: When do you need a permit to work on your house?

by Gabrielle Di Bianco 11/12/2023

When do you need a permit to work on your house? Before beginning a major home improvement project, it's crucial to understand your local building codes and regulations. Not only will a building permit ensure your project is done safely, it can help you avoid nasty fines

Renovations that likely require a permit

Any major structural changes to your home may require a permit. These changes include:

  • Adding or removing walls.
  • Converting an existing room for another purpose (i.e. garage into bedroom).
  • Replacing the roof.
  • Demolishing a portion of your house.

Other times when you may need a building permit

Other projects require permits, especially if you're modifying systems in your home. You will likely need specific permits for electrical or plumbing.

For example, installing an underground sprinkler system requires a plumbing permit. Extending power to a separate structure like a shed or detached garage will also need a permit.

Renovations that do not require a permit

There are still plenty of renovation projects you can accomplish without getting a permit. Some examples include:

  • Repainting your home's exterior.
  • Installing kitchen cabinets.
  • Replacing large appliances.
  • Repaving your driveway.
  • Building a small fence.

For outdoor projects, it's best to double-check with the local permitting office to make sure you're following the rules for proper land use.

How do I get a permit?

The process to get a permit starts with filling out an application and preparing the details of your plan for approval. Next, you'll need an official inspection before work can begin. Once you have your permit, you can begin work according to any requested revisions. When your project is complete, you must have a final inspection for city approval.

Building codes & permits protect homeowners

Some homeowners might wonder, "Why do we need building permits?" The permit process may seem tedious and unnecessary at times, especially for DIY-savvy homeowners. However, making sure your renovation is in compliance with building, construction, and zoning codes will keep you and other homeowners safe.

The more prepared you are for your renovation project, the smoother the experience will be. Permits are an important part of the experience, so make sure you take all the necessary steps to ensure the safety and compliance of your renovation.

About the Author

Gabrielle Di Bianco

Gabrielle began her career in Real Estate in 2002. Prior to becoming a real estate agent, Gabrielle worked in the marketing/communications and manufacturing business in NYC for 18 years, having worked with both US and International clients. She is fluent in both Italian and French and is a Certified International Property Specialist.