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Home Improvement  /  May 3, 2021

To Permit or Not to Permit? House Renovation Requirements

What do you do if you put your house on the market and want to boost its value? When they decide to sell their home, many homeowners choose to run the extra mile by taking on some remodeling and renovation projects. After all, a house with a chef’s kitchen may have a better value compared to a home with a dingy chef’s kitchen. Also, a home with a sunroom may seem more appealing to potential homebuyers in the future.

Just as heavy industries invest inindustrial injection moldingto create parts that ensure quality products, so should you invest in changes that improve your home and secure a better selling price in the future.

However, if you’ve done renovation projects in the past, you’re no stranger to building permits. Building permits can be time-consuming, expensive and often frustrating. Still, obtaining one can help you move forward with your renovation projects.

Here’s an outline of the basics of the permitting process, as well as some projects that require a permit.

How the Permitting Process Works

Local municipalities issue permits based on each city’s ordinances. Since there are no state or federal standards, building codes are also different from one city to another. One way for you to know if your city requires a building permit for a renovation project is to call or visit your city’s website. If you hire a licensed contractor, they’ll know whether your home improvement project will require a permit.

As a homeowner, your responsibility is to make sure that your project is lawful. Remember: contractors do not handle the permit.

Some cities charge one percent of the total construction costs and the entire process may take up to six weeks to accommodate all the inspection requirements. That’s money and time that many homeowners aren’t willing to sacrifice. As a result, many homeowners choose to sidestep the permitting process.

Sidestepping the permitting process, however, can be costly.

What Happens If You Don’t Get a Permit?

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), not getting a permit may stall or stop your planned renovations or cancel, if not complicate, the sale of your house. You have to prove that you have all the permits needed for a home appraisal or inspection. If you put your house on sale, the lending bank will not advance the loan if your renovation project doesn’t have all the permits needed.

There’s also the added problem of paying fines or having to tear down and redo the work.

What Are Home Renovation Projects that Need a Permit?

Building permits are often divided into different categories, which include those allotted for structural, mechanical and electrical changes or new home renovation projects. Before you apply for these permits, you must have plans that comply with local ordinances and codes. Certain renovations change the structure of your property as a whole so municipal authorities want to make sure your property can support the work you plan to do.

There’s a likelihood that you’ll need a permit if you want to make major changes to your home’s footprint. This includes room additions, new bedrooms, shed installations and more. Any project that transforms your home’s existing support system – changes to balconies, load-bearing walls, porches and decks – requires a permit.

Here are the cases you’ll need a permit:

  • New windows. Replacing an existing window does not need a permit but cutting a hole for a new window does. This includes new doors and skylights.
  • Most municipalities need permits for siding projects whether you usestrong cardboard or other materials
  • Not all fencing projects require a building permit but cities often place restrictions on non-permitted fences. For example, Chicago requires a permit on fences that are five feet or higher.
  • Electrical and plumbing. If you’re installing new or removing current plumbing permits, you’ll need a permit. Any improvement project that includes installing a new electrical system also requires a permit.
  • Water heater. You need a permit if you want to replace your water heater.

On the other hand, projects that don’t require a permit include:

  • Installing carpeting or hardwood floors
  • Wallpapering or painting
  • Installing new counter tops
  • Minor electrical repairs
  • Faucet replacement

So How Can You Get a Permit?

Apply for a permit through your local city government. Depending on the complexity of your home improvement project, some permits may be issues immediately while others will require an inspection first.

During the renovation process, the city government will require regular inspections. For projects that involve the addition of room and systems, local authorities will require multiple inspections. Once the project is finished, a final inspection will take place before the permit is issued.

The Bottom Line

Most large projects involve major changes to your home’s structure, which is why a permit is necessary. Since each city has different rules, it’s important to check your municipality’s website or to call for clarification. As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to hold all the proper permits needed.

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