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Home Improvements that Require Permits

February 5, 2016
Amanda Curry
Read Time
2 minutes

Home Improvements that Require Permits

When you’re ready to remodel or make an improvement to your home, the thought of whether or not you need a permit probably crossed your mind. Many home improvement projects require a permit from the city government because changes to your home may violate city regulations. Failing to acquire a permit when necessary can lead to costly consequences and headaches down the road. While projects related to landscape, carpeting, painting, and wallpapering don’t require a permit, here are some popular home improvement projects that do:

Window Installations

If you’re looking to replace your current windows and install new, bigger windows, a permit is necessary in order to cut holes for them. Permits are also required for cutting holes for new doors with windows and skylights.

Fencing Installations

Homeowner are usually surprised when they find out that many cities and counties request a permit for a fencing installation. The purpose of a permit for a fencing installation is to make sure the design of your fence, material, and size are built to a certain code.


In order to add a detached structure such as a shed, platform, and garage to your home, a permit must be obtained. The permit requirement for additions only applies to additions or remodeling projects that cost $5,000 or more. Projects that are 200 square feet or less are excluded from this rule.

Structural Enhancements  

Changing a home’s structure can certainly improve a house. Whether it’s creating a more spacious interior, extra living space, adding on a balcony, porch, deck, or making changes to the foundation flooring, a permit needs to be attained.

Heating Changes

Repairing water heaters when they leek is typically not an option. In this situation, replacing your water heater may be your only choice. Replacing a water heater as well as making changes to ducts, wood and gas fireplaces, and the ventilation system all require a permit.

Electrical Maintenance and Plumbing

Almost always, replacing or installing a plumbing system needs a permit. Permits are also necessary when replacing or installing electrical wiring such as ceiling fans, outlets, overhead lights, or switches. With less involved repairs and light fixture installations, permits are usually not a requirement.

Who Acquires Permits?

If your remodeling project uses a contractor, it is usually his or her responsibility to arrange the permit. Contractors are familiar with city inspectors and the process and can use their relationship with the city to work in your favor. DIY home improvement projects without contractor will make you responsible for receiving the permit and liable if an issue arises.

What Can Be Expected in the Permit Acquisition Process?

For a completed permit, a rough and final inspection of each part of the remodeling project must occur. The permit will become void if a rough and final inspection is not conducted. When this happens, the contractor or homeowner is exposed to future liabilities because the work was never accepted or approved by the city government.

If you are unsure whether or not a permit is required for specific home improvement projects that you’re interested in performing to your home, get a hold of your local building department to find out. It’s a good idea to ask for printed information about their particular requirements so that you know what to expect.