Do I Need a Permit ?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Action Realty PARE # RS208307

Renovating your home can be an exciting undertaking, but it is important to slow down and make sure you check all the boxes before you proceed with your project. Building permits primarily exist to protect the health and safety of the home's residents, so while it might be inconvenient to apply for a building permit, it can be worth it in the long run. But how do you know if you need a building permit for the project you are planning?

1. Do I need a permit for the project I am about to start?
A few general guidelines can give you an idea of whether you will need a building permit. In most cases, you will need a permit for any modifications you would like to make to your existing home. These include electrical, sewer or plumbing updates and mechanical installations. They also include changes to the roof line, the addition of fireplaces and the expansion of pre-existing windows.
On the other hand, there are some situations when a permit is usually not required. Cosmetic changes, such as new flooring, trim or paint, typically do not require a permit. Other types of modifications, such as building a deck, replacing the siding on your home, or building a new fence or retaining wall, may or may not require a permit depending on your location.
2. Why do we have building codes?
Building codes are put in place to protect the home's residents as well as the community at large. One commonly cited example of a building code applies to stair railings. Stair railings are required to have sturdy hand holds to help occupants traverse them. In general, railings are also not permitted to have any gaps that are larger than 4". This regulation was put in place in order to prevent small children from getting stuck while trying to climb through the gaps.
Building codes can also help make the community safe and clean for everyone. Examples of this include environmental efficiency regulations.
3. Is a building permit my responsibility or my contractor's?
If you choose to hire a contractor, make sure you discuss with the contractor who will be pulling the building permits. In some areas, you have to be a licensed general contractor in order to pull building permits, but in many other jurisdictions you are able to pull building permits for your own private residence.
4. How can I find out if I need a permit?
Check with your local jurisdiction. Different areas have different laws surrounding building permits and building codes. In general, urban areas are more strictly regulated while the requirements in rural areas tend to be more lax. Make sure that you check the most up-to-date versions of all the guidelines. For example, requirements for energy efficiency have changed drastically over the past decade, causing building codes to adjust accordingly. It is always best to make sure that you are up to date on the local building codes and guidelines.



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Horsham Real Estate


Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Sheri Sperry - MCNE® 03/24/2017 05:00 AM
Home Improvement
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Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Good advice, albeit best to check with your state and county's requirements. Do you have a background in the trades John?


Mar 20, 2017 06:43 AM #1
Mike & Eve Alexander
Buyers Broker of Florida - Orlando, FL
Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers

In big cities, even the petty things like replacing the front door or a ceiling fan, need a permit.

Another reason for permitting:

When you go to sell and the buyer has a smart agent, they will check for permits and may make you pull a permit.  The city will then make you bring it up to the codes of the year you are selling the property.


Mar 20, 2017 07:12 AM #2
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi John Handschuh - This is great advice for those starting home projects. ....especially this time of year.  People look to certain seasons to get this type of work done. ... Also dodging weather!

Mar 20, 2017 08:20 AM #3
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

You're absolutely right about building permits.  Several years ago, I sold a home to a couple from a remote area of Idaho.  Not long after close of escrow, I stopped by to see them.  They had already banged out a wall to put on an addition.  You guessed it!  No permits!  They hadn't needed them in Idaho.

Mar 20, 2017 04:41 PM #4
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Most municipalities, in this day and age, should have websites that make it pretty easy to determine whether permits for renovations are needed. 

Mar 20, 2017 06:44 PM #5
Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning John Handschuh ,

I'm so glad Sheri Sperry - MCNE® re-blogged your post Excellent tpic at this time of the year especially! In Austin you better have a permit when re-modeling or you will be slapped with fines!

Mar 24, 2017 05:18 AM #6
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning John. This is a terrific overview. Every area is different, but the most important thing in my view is to find out if permits are required.

Mar 24, 2017 06:11 AM #7
Michael Jacobs
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393

Hi John -- I came here via the reblog of your post by Sheri Sperry - MCNE®.

You have presented have succinctly shared some excellent advice for homeowners thinking of a renovation/remodeling project(and there always seems as if there is something to do, right?).   Sometimes it seems the permitting process is more about revenue enhancement but there's typically a reason behind the procedure.  

Mar 24, 2017 06:54 AM #8
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

You shared some excellent advice for homeowners here, who probably just assume someone else will worry about whether a permit is required or not. Each community may have different requirements. And not having a permit can raise questions when it comes time to sell, depending on the issue.

Mar 24, 2017 07:39 AM #9
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John Handschuh

Realtor ABR SRES, Horsham Real Estate
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