Do I Need a Building Permit? (Residential)

When building new homes or room additions you will need a building permit. On smaller projects such as kitchen and bathroom remodels, it’s not always clear if you need a building permit for the work. The IRC (International Residential Code) 2006 defines the need for a permit as follows:

R105.1 Required. Any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by this code, or to cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit.

Here are some general guidelines to follow that will help you determine if you need a building permit.

1. Modifying any plumbing sanitary sewer lines that are not exposed (i.e. inside walls, ceilings, attics, foundations, and yards) will require a permit.

2. Modifying any plumbing water or gas lines that are not exposed (i.e. inside walls, ceilings, attics, foundations, and yards) will require a permit.

3. Any electrical work other then changing out existing light fixtures, switches, and outlets.

4. Replacing the entire H.V.A.C. system including equipment and ductwork.

5. Modifying any existing structural framing.

6. Pouring concrete slabs/foundations and patios. Some local municipalities require stamped and sealed foundation plans from a structural engineer. Engineers typically charge $300-$600 for this service.

7. Installing any structures on your property such as fences over 6 feet tall.

8. Replacing a roof based on your local municipality. Some municipalities do not require a permit for roofing.

*Note: Ordinary repairs to your plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems will not require a permit as long as you are not cutting away any walls, removing structural beams/supports, Manual J or changing the any required means of egress.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your project. If you need a permit, add a budget line item for permit fees/inspections and re-inspections. The cost of permits vary from each municipality and are generally determined on the dollar valve of the project and/or the scope of the work. Permits will increase the time it takes to complete your project. Once you have your permit in hand, the municipality will typically tell you what inspections your project will need. The general rule of the thumb is to add 1 day to your project timeline per each inspection that is required. Additionally, add a few extra days, to account for any re-inspections, just in case you fail one. Municipalities will sometimes require that you make upgrades or correct previous work that is subpar or not up to code. It’s a good idea to add some money in the budget for these unforeseen items.