Building Codes & Permits

Building permits are required for any remodeling project that involves a change or addition to your home’s structure or mechanical systems. Building permits are issued to ensure your remodeling project meets local building codes, which establish material standards, structural requirements, and installation guidelines for your project. In short, they ensure that your (or your contractor’s) work is done properly.

Building permits are required by law, and getting caught without them can result in fines from the city and possible trouble with your insurance company Also, work done without permits can cause problems if you try to sell your house.

Most local building codes follow the national codes, such as the National Electrical Code, hut are adapted to meet the demands of local conditions and legislation. Keep in mind that local codes always supersede national codes. Always check with your local building department before finalizing your plans.

Before issuing permits, your local building department will require plans and cost estimates for your project. After your plans have been approved, you must pay permit fees, which are based on the cost of the project. You’ll also learn what inspections are required and when you should call for inspections.

Once issued, a building permit typically is good for 180 days. You can apply for an extension by submitting a written request showing justifiable cause for the delay.


Here are some tips to help you prepare for the permit process:

• To obtain a building permit, you must fill out a form from your local building department that includes a description of the project; your home’s address, legal description, and occupancy; and an estimate of the project cost.

• The building department may require two to four sets of construction documents or drawings of your project-including floor and elevation plans-to be submitted for inspection and approval.

• A building inspector will examine all construction plans and stamp or send written notification of approval and acceptance.

• One set of approved documents is kept by the building official, one set is sent to the applicant, and one set is displayed at the site until the project is completed.

• Some permits are granted by phase of construction. After the work for one phase is completed and inspected, a permit for the next phase is issued. However building officials will not guarantee issuance of subsequent permits.

• All work is inspected by a building official to ensure compliance with codes and permits.

• Your project is complete only after the local building inspector makes a final inspection and gives approval of your site.