DIY home upgrades can be a great option for improving your space and adding value to your home. Before you roll up your sleeves, however, you need to be aware that certain remodeling projects will require a permit from your city. In certain cases, you may also need to pass a homeowner’s exam to demonstrate proficiency if you are attempting to do complicated work yourself.
Which Home Projects Need a Permit?
In general, there are a few scenarios where you’re likely to need a permit before you can begin work. These include the following:
Changes to the Floor Plan
Any architectural changes that alter the home’s established floor plan will probably require a permit. Projects that result in a floor plan change include additions like a new bathroom, bedroom, or flex space. Adding walls to divide rooms or knocking them down to create an open floor plan will also need permission.
Windows are a great way to brighten up a space, and a new door can add convenience and privacy. However, you may need a permit to add openings like these to existing walls to avoid compromising support structures.
New Air Conditioning System
If your home does not already have ductwork to support a traditional split air conditioning system, you will need a permit to install one. This is also true if you plan to reroute existing ductwork. Alternatively, you could consider a ductless air conditioning system, which uses a compressor and strategically placed blowers in place of ducts.
Any New or Relocated Plumbing Projects
This would include adding a wet bar, toilet, sprinkler system, or anything else that requires new plumbing. In general, you do not need permission to work on your drainage system (i.e. installing a sump pump), unless it directly affects the structure of the home or requires some kind of electrical work.
Any New or Relocated Electrical Projects
The associated risks of adding or relocating electrical wiring within the home means that you will need a permit for even the simplest of projects, like moving an outlet. Unless you have significant prior experience, it is generally not recommended that you DIY electrical projects, no matter how straightforward they may seem.
Outdoor Offices or She Sheds
She Sheds became massively popular during the pandemic, since many of us were forced to work from home and needed a designated space. Most cities will allow you to construct a shed or outbuilding without a permit, so long as you adhere to guidelines regarding size and do not encroach on your neighbor’s property. That being said, if you plan to add electricity and running water to your garden office, you will need a permit.
A finished basement adds space and value to a home. It is also frequently where the electrical breaker box and HVAC system are located. As such, you will need a permit to ensure you adhere to safety and clearance guidelines when you are redmodeling.
Most cities require a permit if the repairs you intend to make on your roof exceed a certain amount of square footage. In Denver, for example, you need a permit for a roofing project that is greater than 10% of the roof’s size in square feet or if it is more than 200 square feet (whichever is smaller). Check with your local municipality to determine their sizing requirements before you start reshingling.
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