There are fun parts to renovating: picking new carpet, new paint, new furniture, new floor plans, etc.; and there are not so fun parts: the dirt, the cost, the labor, etc. One of these not very fun parts is knowing when you need to get a permit, what kind to get, and how to get it. Such rules vary by state and sometimes even by county, but the following are some rules of thumb home renovations expert Lee Wallender suggests homeowners know.
Permit Definitely Needed
Though there may still be variation depending on locality, Wallender said, “I cannot imagine a locality that doesn’t require a permit for the following activities. Whenever you expand the house in any way or alter the house envelop, you will need a permit.” For instance, demolishing a load-bearing wall or adding to your home’s footprint will definitely require a permit. The city wants to make sure you’re following building codes and not making it all up as you go along. Changing your house’s roofline goes along with this, as it indicates there’s some pretty extensive changes going on inside.
It’s a no-brainer that doing anything with the sewer line would need a permit, but did you know you need one to install new electrical wiring? Decks are another surprising element that often require permits before construction. And if you have a big demolition project and need a roll-off dumpster, you will almost always need a permit if you want to park it on a public street.
Permit Possibly Needed
These instances are a gray area where regions have their own rules. Demolishing a non load-bearing wall might not require a permit, but then again it might. Wallender said, “Even though this type of work does not structurally compromise your home, some permitting agencies want to be overly cautious and make certain that do-it-yourself homeowners do not undertake dangerous repairs.” Also, adding a door or window or running new plumbing lines may require a permit.
Permit Likely Not Needed
There are many smaller projects that don’t require permits, though you may still want to check with your local permitting office just to be sure. These projects include painting, upgrading countertops, installing new siding, laying a new roof, laying new flooring, or parking a roll-off dumpster on your own property.
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