There is a high probability that you have at least heard of building permits even if you haven’t applied for one yourself. Going by their name alone, you can probably guess the general gist of what these permits are used for.
You might be surprised to find out that a lot of homeowners don’t really know that much about building permits, especially in regards to details such as if you will need to apply for one. In fact, it can actually get kind of confusing at times, so here’s a rundown of the basics of building permits so you will not be left scratching your head the next time you are considering a new job around the house.
What Are Building Permits?
As the name implies, a building permit is a written permission granted by a municipality or other governing body that allows you to build something inside the body’s jurisdiction. That’s a fancy way of saying that the city or other area you live in gave you permission to construct within the city or county limits.
This aids in making sure that the work you are doing is safe and falls within the guidelines established by local building and construction codes. Since these codes can vary depending on the location where you reside, building permits help to make certain that everything complies with all local regulations.
Applying for a Permit
In most areas, applying for a building permit is a fairly straightforward procedure. You fill out an application, prepare a site plan that details what you’ll be building, and schedule an appointment to have the plan approved.
Once your license is approved, you may have to schedule inspections of the works site as well to ensure that things are following the plan that was laid out in your application. Bear in mind that the specific procedure and any fees or other costs associated with the application process will vary depending on local zoning rules and other legal specifics of the area where you reside.
Construction Permit Changes
As soon as you have a building permit, you’re free to go ahead with your building project. What happens if your plans change during the building process, though? The answer is dependent upon the nature of your change.
Based on the jurisdiction you are in, you may be free to continue your project if the changes are relatively minor or in the spirit of the original license. If there are major deviations from what you specified in your original application, however, you’ll almost certainly have to either have your license amended or apply for a new permit to cover the job as it now stands.
Bear in mind that this depends heavily on the jurisdiction that issues the permit, so be sure to check and see how that affects your permit before making major changes to your project.
Do You Need a Permit?
One bit of good news is that not all building projects require that you apply for a construction permit. When this depends largely on the specifics of local building codes, you typically won’t need a construction permit for small projects or projects that don’t make structural changes to your home.
And you may not need one for some drastic modifications, such as replacing plumbing or electrical wiring. As an example, you are likely not going to require a construction permit to paint your house or install a small fence around your backyard, though you may still have to clear those changes with your homeowner’s association if you’re in one.
However, should you decide to add walls, convert your garage into a living room, or construct a new exterior construction, you could very well need a permit depending on where you live.