4 Common Permits Needed for a Remodel

4 Common Permits Needed for a Remodel

March 7th, 2023

Most people think about remodeling their homes in categories of paint colors, updated flooring, and new appliances. One category homeowners should consider, however, is permits. Improper or lack of permit approval can severely impact a project timeline. Therefore, it's important to ensure you have all the necessary permits before you begin work. Below, we'll explore some of the different permits you might need for renovation projects so that you can plan ahead.

1. Architectural or Design Drawings

If you’ve opted to hire an architect or designer to draw up your housing plan, you may need to submit them to the city or county for approval. Keep in mind that architects are usually utilized in larger, whole-home renovations. If you’re planning a simple kitchen or bath remodel, you probably won’t need an architect. However, if you are planning on a larger project and need to submit drawings, know that the approval process can take up to six to eight weeks.

2. Building Permit

The building permit is one of the essential permits you'll need, as it gives you permission to start construction on your project. If you’re planning on any demolition, including knocking out walls, adding to the floor plan, or installing more windows, you’ll likely need this permit. However, before you swing the first hammer, talk with your local county government to determine your necessary permits. Additionally, working with a knowledgeable remodeling company takes some of the pressure off of you as they understand required permitting more thoroughly. All cities and counties have different processes for securing a building permit, which can affect your project timeline. In addition, the length of time it takes to get a permit varies widely depending on the complexity of your project and the backlog at your local permitting office.

3. Zoning Permit

Local zoning laws are set in place to ensure the public’s health, safety, and general welfare. What an individual or a company chooses to do with a specific plot of land is in no way allowed to impact the surrounding population negatively. Therefore, a zoning permit is required whenever you change how your property is used. This includes renovations like adding an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) or converting a garage into a living space. The permitting process for zoning changes is similar to building permits, so expect a similar timeline. But as always, contact your local government for a definitive answer and what to expect during the approval process.

4. Electrical and Plumbing Permit

Sustainability is trending in 2023, and most homeowners completing a renovation project opt to upgrade their current systems for more efficient energy. However, you may need a permit if you plan to update your electric circuit system or install new plumbing pipes.

Renovations That Don’t Typically Require a Permit

  • Interior Painting: You can wallpaper and paint without a permit.
  • Appliance Installs: Swapping out your refrigerator or washing machines doesn’t require you to get county approval.
  • Kitchen and Bathroom Hardware: You can change the hardware on your cabinets and install different faucets/shower heads without a permit.
  • Lighting Fixtures: Even though you’ll be dealing with electricity, you won’t have to get a permit to switch out or add new lighting features to your home.

Tips for Successful Permit Approval

  • Play It Safe: If you’re unsure if your project needs a permit—ask! Don’t start construction until you have a solid answer, as doing so could lead to violations, fines, and fees. It’s better to err on the side of caution and ensure that your project is completed safely and legally.
  • Contact Your Local County Government: Different cities and counties require different permits. You can also do a simple Google search to find your county’s rules and regulations for renovations. If you feel that you aren’t getting the answers you need from the website, phoning your county’s permitting office will put you in touch with someone who can answer your questions and help you plan for your project.
  • Work with a Reputable Remodeling Company: If you’re doing small DIY projects, you likely won’t need the help of a contractor, nor will you need a permit. However, if you’re planning on altering your home or your property or upgrading your electric system, you’ll likely need both. A knowledgeable contractor will be familiar with what types of projects need permit approval. Further, they’ll be comfortable with the process of obtaining the permit, making the entire ordeal significantly less stressful.

Renovating your home is exciting, but it's important to ensure you understand that a permit may be required, all with different requirements and timelines. Depending on the type and scope of your project, you may need anything from a simple window installation permit to a complex demolition permit—and the timeframe for receiving those permits can vary widely as well. But ultimately, ensuring everything is up to code is essential for maintaining public safety and will only benefit you and your project. So plan ahead, get permit approval, and you’ll have a successful renovation!

Key Takeaways:

  • A good contractor will guide you through the permitting process.
  • Contact your local government with questions.
  • Budget for permits and additional fees.