Do you need a permit for home improvement projects?

The answer: possibly. When homeowners are wrapped up in home improvement projects, it’s easy to forget that a permit might be needed to complete certain projects – even when they’re on your private property. Visit your municipality’s website or planning office, tell them what you’re thinking about doing and inquire as to what your options are before hiring an architect or designer. You might also want to bring with you a Google Maps aerial photo and sketches or blueprints of your home. Each local government is permitted to create their own laws and regulations for projects such as:

  • Demolishing a load-bearing wall
  • Changing the house’s roofline
  • Altering the footprint of your home
  • Installation of new electrical wiring or replacement of existing wiring (like knob and tube)
  • Installation of a fence
  • Installation of pools (including above-ground)
  • Installation of decks
  • Any work involving plumbing lines
  • Additions
  • Garages
  • Sheds

While the above are all major home improvement projects, even minor projects require permits and possibly inspections such as:

  • Installation of fireplaces, wood-burning stoves and inserts
  • Electrical circuits and service
  • Exterior doors, windows and skylights that require a new opening
  • Cutting down a tree
  • Installation of major shrubbery/landscaping

In addition to permits, if you hire a contractor to perform the work, be sure the company/contractor meets all current license requirements for the state, county and municipality in which the work will be completed. This information is easily obtained online through websites like the Better Business Bureau and the State Attorney General. Ask the contractor to see the licenses, which they should provide willingly along with references.

The best advice for homeowners is before embarking on a home improvement project, contact your municipal planning office to determine if permits are needed and if the contractor you are considering for the project has valid local licenses. Often, the planning office staff can provide a recommendation on a reputable contractor based on project type.


One thought on “Do you need a permit for home improvement projects?

  1. Pingback: SLWA’s Favorite Blogs | Service Line Warranties of America