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When Do I Need a Building Permit for Home Improvements? 

When it’s time to remodel or make improvements to your home, you may wonder when you need a building permit. How do you determine which remodels and renovations require permits? Find out Below!

Home Improvement Projects that Require a Permit

The general rule of thumb is that structural, electrical, plumbing or mechanical work will require a permit, but here is a breakdown you can keep in your home improvement toolbox:

  • Fencing Installation or Repair: When you install or repair a fence, it’s important to check with your city to see if there is a height restriction. Some cities and even suburbs have certain heights that fences can’t go past. Be sure to have a fencing contractor check about such restrictions to avoid having to cut the fence or take it down after installation.

  • Window Installations: When you install new windows that are bigger than your old windows, a permit is required to cut holes for them. This will also include cutting holes for skylights and new doors with windows, so a window professional will need to acquire those permits.

  • Plumbing and Electrical Work: When installing or replacing plumbing, you will most likely need a permit. The same rule applies when installing or replacing electrical wiring, whether it’s an outlet, switch, ceiling fan or overhead lighting. The cases where you won’t need a permit include smaller projects like repairs and light fixture installations.

  • Structural Changes: When you make any kind of structural changes to your home, the contractor will need to get a permit. This may include changes to the load-bearing walls, balconies, decks, porches, roofs or foundation flooring.
  • Heating Maintenance: If you replace the water heater, the heating contractor you’ve hired to do the work will need to get a permit. Changes to the ventilation system, gas and wood fireplaces and ducts will also require a permit. This does not include filter changes, motor lubrication or equipment cleaning.

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