“Do I need a building permit to do that?” is a frequently asked question when people think about building, remodeling, and home improvement projects. You might be surprised how many construction projects require one, according to the International Residential Code. From a practical perspective, people do not obtain one when they should and building officials may not make an issue about this oversight. But as inspectors know, work performed without one is a common source of safety issues and costly repairs.
You often need a building permit for:
- replacement of or major repairs to water demande de permis de construire heaters, furnaces, air conditioners, gas and plumbing pipes, and similar components,
- modifications or major repairs to the electrical system such as adding or moving receptacles or lights, and adding new circuits,
- installation of new plumbing, electrical, and heating and air conditioning equipment and components,
- replacement of building components such as roof coverings and exterior wall coverings,
- construction of new buildings,
- additions, structural modifications, and major structural repairs to existing buildings,
- movement and demolition of existing buildings,
- changes to building occupancy.
A change to building occupancy means changing how the building is used. Example: using a single family home as a place of business is a change in occupancy that may require a building permit and may require a zoning change or zoning waiver.
You may not need a building permit for:
- building or installation of one-story detached accessory structures less than 200 square feet with no utilities,
- fences not more than 6 feet tall,
- retaining walls not more than 4 feet tall measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall and not supporting a surcharge [a vertical load in addition to and/or above the retained ground],
- driveways and sidewalks,
- painting, wallpapering, floor covering installation, cabinet and countertop installation, and similar finish work,
- installation of portable plug and cord connected electrical equipment,
- installation of portable gas heating, cooking and clothes drying equipment,
- installation of portable HVAC equipment [such as window air conditioners],
- clearing of plumbing stoppages and repair of plumbing leaks and removal and reinstallation of toilets if the repairs do not involve replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes or fixtures.