When do I need a building permit?

When do I need a building permit?

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building permit.Any big or small renovation project (home improvement or repair) that you do to your house requires a building permit. If you ignore getting a building permit, then you may run into problems later on. You want to avoid that at all costs, don’t you? After all, you are spending money to get the work done and you don’t want it to be termed illegal in the future.

Even though most of the rules are based on the International Residential Code (where the same rules apply to every building in the US), you need to be aware of the code rules in your jurisdiction because there might be slight variations. In most cases, your contractor should be able to help you out with this, and if you decide to forgo a contractor then there are owner/builder permits that give you the permission to act as your own contractor.

Here’s what you need to do:

First visit the offices of the local building departments or the Department of Building Inspection. Then you will be able to get an idea of what permits are allowed in your jurisdiction.

Construction rules change with time. Rules can change within a year’s time too. The interpretations of local building guidelines and the idea for energy efficiency and planning conditions are always subject to change. You need to show your responsibility by checking on them regularly.

Things to look for:

Get to know when you actually need a building permit. For example, you have to look at a permit to be able to modify the roof-line of your home or adding a fireplace. You will also need to get a permit for making electrical modifications in a house, even as simple as changing that rusty water heater for a new one.

Have an idea of when you don’t need a permit. You can forget about the permit if you want to get a new carpet for your home, a new paint job or even installing new casing or baseboard. Cutting down trees, building new fences are all activities that might or might not require a permit; you need to get that cleared.

Get a grip on the railing guidelines specified. The International Building Code contains specifications on the railing requirements for your house. Failing to follow the guidelines would lead to safety problems in your house, apart from other issues.


The importance of getting a building permit should not be undermined. It is important for homeowners to follow the guidelines mentioned in the permit because safety can never be compromised. If you indulge in a home renovation project without the proper consent or permit, then you might have to stop the work until you get the approval. Building permits require fees. The fees will, of course, be dependent on the cost of the renovation project. Once the project is approved to continue along as planned, you can be assured that there will be no safety issues to be wary of. Building permits are drawn up to ensure your homes safety and it is each homeowner’s responsibility to abide by them.

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