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Renovations: Do I Need a Permit?

Renovating your home, whether you DIY or hire a professional, is a big undertaking. But before you start swinging hammers and sharing your excitement about #demoday on social media, you may need to complete the boring step of paperwork. Local regulations, the scope of your project, and the property you plan to renovate all impact whether a permit is required.

Always check with your local building permit office, often located in City Hall or a similar government building, to find out your local laws.

Permit not required

Small, homeowner DIY projects may not require a permit. Simple updates or cosmetic work, such as painting, hanging wallpaper, or hanging shelving is usually not expected to pose a safety risk. Most regions don’t need you to file paperwork or get approval for your plans to make these kinds of updates.

Small outdoor improvements, such as a decorative fence or shed may not require a permit. But these types of projects can quickly get extravagant and into the realm of needing a permit. Adding a hard-wired light to your shed, for example, may mean that an electrical permit is now needed. If you work with a licensed contractor, they normally obtain all permits needed for the work they will complete, which is factored into their overall cost.

Get a permit before doing work

Larger projects, especially those that could impact the structural integrity of a building, will almost always require a permit. If you plan to add or remove walls to change the layout, change the electrical or plumbing, or put on a new roof, you should expect to need a permit. Additions and demolition will almost always require a permit and may even require more extensive designs and drawings of the proposed change.

Failing to get a permit when it is required can cause issues down the road, should you plan to sell your home. During a routine home inspection, any major changes that were not permitted will be identified. Most potential buyers will choose not to purchase because they can’t be sure that the work was done up to current building codes or is safe.

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