Remodeling Permit


Renovating your home or office space can be exciting, but before you dive into that remodeling project, there’s an essential aspect you should consider – building permits. Knowing how to get a permit for your renovation is not just a formality; it’s a crucial step that can save you time and money in the long run. Your property may be your own, but your renovation project must adhere to government building codes, ensuring that it’s “up to code” for safety and structural integrity.

Cost of Building Permits

Building permit costs are not set in stone and can vary significantly based on factors such as the project’s scope and the local government’s pricing structure. Most municipalities have a fee schedule available online for reference. These fees typically cover all additional inspections required during the project’s progression, including the final sign-off.

The Process of Obtaining a Building Permit

If your building project falls under the categories that require a permit, the responsibility for securing one largely depends on whether you are hiring a contractor or taking the DIY route. If you hire a licensed contractor, they will typically handle the permit application. However, If you decide to take on the task yourself, it may initially appear challenging, but is entirely achievable.

Suppose you are handling the remodel permit process on your own. In that case, it will involve creating project plans and submitting them for approval. For relatively straightforward projects, local building permit agencies can provide guidance and suggest the best approach and plans to use.

Do I Need a Permit for My Renovation?

While the idea of getting a permit might seem like unnecessary bureaucracy, it serves the important purpose of safeguarding homeowners and building occupants from potential hazards. Building permits are in place to prevent fire disasters, structural failures, electrical mishaps, and, ultimately, to save lives. Additionally, there can be financial consequences for skipping the permit process. So, perhaps the most important question to answer is, “Do I Need a Remodeling Permit?”

A common challenge is determining the specific renovations that typically necessitate a remodeling permit. Here’s a list of some of these renovations:

  • Fences
  • Changes to the building’s footprint
  • Installing new windows (replacing existing windows typically does not require a permit, but cutting a hole for a new window usually does – the same applies to new doors and skylights)
  • Plumbing and electrical work
  • Structural changes
  • Siding
  • Water heater replacements

On the other hand, certain renovations usually do not require a permit, such as:

  • Painting or wallpapering
  • Installing carpet
  • Hardwood floor installation
  • Minor electrical repairs
  • Installing new countertops
  • Replacing faucets

Interior Upgrades and Permits

Projects focused on interior cosmetic upgrades like changing a showerhead or adding new flooring generally don’t necessitate a permit. However, if your project involves building construction, enlargement, alteration, repair, moving, demolition, or changing the building’s occupancy or any electrical, gas, mechanical, or plumbing system regulated by technical codes, then a permit is obligatory.

Timing for Permit Approval

The time it takes to secure a building permit varies based on the complexity of the project. Projects like fences, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, decks, roofing, and small remodels usually take a day to acquire permits. However, when you begin modifications that involve structural changes or building additions, the review process can take several weeks. Expect a longer timeline if there are projects ahead of yours. Typically, you’ll receive an estimated time frame when you submit your plans, but it’s a good practice to add a couple of weeks as a buffer.

Once the permit is granted, you usually have around six months to complete your project, after which you might need to file for an extension. After the project is finished, a final inspection is necessary, followed by obtaining final approval from your local building department. Keep the permits and final approvals as proof when selling your property; it can streamline the selling process.

The Cost of Skipping Permits

For the avid DIY enthusiast, obtaining permits can be seen as a costly, time-consuming, and occasionally frustrating process. However, for many home renovations, permits are not just necessary but mandatory. Some counties charge around one percent of the total construction costs for issuing a permit, and the process may take up to six weeks, including all required inspections. This has led some homeowners to attempt to sidestep the permit process to avoid fees and project delays. Nevertheless, there are significant downsides to this approach.

According to the National Association of Realtors, failing to obtain the proper permits for remodeling a home can complicate or even cancel the sale of your home. During a home inspection or appraisal, homeowners may have to demonstrate that the necessary permits were obtained and properly closed. If the buyer’s bank discovers that remodeling work was done without the required permits, they are unlikely to approve a loan.

The Pitfalls of Open Permits

Let’s say you’ve started a renovation project, acquired the necessary renovation permit, and completed the work. However, if you fail to arrange a final inspection, your permit will remain open for a specific period. Once this time frame lapses, the permit will close.

But that’s not the end of the story. If you decide to sell your home, a Florida municipal lien search and permit search could reveal that the permit was improperly closed, even if it’s marked as “closed.” This discrepancy will become your responsibility to rectify, potentially involving substantial costs and delays in the ownership transfer process.

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Q : What do you need permits for in remodeling?

A : For those wondering what do you need a permit for when remodeling, let me tell you they are typically required for remodeling projects that involve structural changes, electrical and plumbing work, changes in the building’s footprint, adding or modifying doors and windows, and any project that affects the building’s safety and integrity.

Q : What activities might require a shoreline permit?

A : Activities such as building or modifying docks, piers, bridges, bulkheads, or any construction near the water may require a shoreline permit search. Even vegetation management and land use in shoreline areas might need a shoreline permit.

Q : When is a permit required for remodeling?

A : If you want to know when are permits required for remodeling, when do you need permits for remodeling or when do you need a permit for remodeling, let me tell you that permits are typically necessary when the project involves structural changes, electrical or plumbing work, changes in the building’s footprint, modifications to doors and windows, and any alterations that impact the building’s safety, integrity, or compliance with building codes. Local regulations dictate specific requirements, so consult your municipal building department to determine if a permit is required for your remodeling project.

Q : What if I don’t get a permit for renovations? 

A : If you don’t get a permit for renovations when required, you could face several consequences. These may include difficulties in selling your property, potential issues with lenders, fines or penalties from the local municipality, the need to redo the work to meet code, and a potential decrease in your home’s value during appraisals.

Q : Can I get a permit after remodeling?

A : In most cases, you should obtain the necessary permits before starting a remodeling project. However, if you’ve already completed the remodeling without the required permits, it’s essential to check with your local building department. They may allow you to retroactively obtain the permits, but this can vary depending on your location and the specific project.

Chris is a Midwest Transplant that has lived in South Florida since 1999. While he likes to remain active and is an avid sports enthusiast, he's become our go-to provider of reviews of any establishment serving food and booze!