photo of men working on a deck in the summer

Do You Need a Permit for That Summer Renovation Project?

As summer rolls around, many of us start working on home and yard renovation projects, but not everyone knows that they may need a building permit before hitting the ground running. 

There are several benefits to getting a building permit, including that the town will inspect the work being done and help prevent your contractor from cutting corners. When you are doing the work yourself, the town officials will review your plans and suggest any changes needed to make your plans comply with the current building codes. 

If you’re unsure where your property line falls, it may be beneficial to get a boundary survey done so that you don’t encroach on your neighbors land and prevent future headaches and legal issues. 

Here are some helpful tips to ensure your summer home improvement projects go off without a hitch: 

Plan ahead

Depending on where you live, your municipality may be able to issue permits for simple projects on the spot. Some projects require a waiting period so neighbors can be notified of the proposed work. Many times your building permit application will need to be reviewed by several departments and these reviews could take several days, or even months if they need the town council to vote on a project. It pays to discuss your project with the town’s code enforcement office early in your just “thinking-about-it process.” 

Don’t Assume-Ask

Some of the things you need a building permit for are pretty common sense. For example, you need a building permit for a new home, an addition to your home, the finishing of your basement for living space or the building of a garage. But some things may surprise you. Permitting also covers things like new plumbing inside your home, new electrical wiring inside of your home, adding a handicap accessible ramp, adding a skylight, converting space for an “in-law” apartment or weekly rental, putting in a patio and installing solar panels. 

Protecting Your Investment

Buying a home is often the largest investment we make. Permits are a way of protecting your investment. Why do I need a permit for all of these things you ask? Permits are required for a couple of reasons. 

  1. Potential changes could create an unsafe condition. Towns and cities are charged with protecting their citizens with life and safety codes in order to prevent fires, buildings from structural failure or decks and stairs from collapsing. 
  2. Municipal officers will check setbacks to your property line if that applies, building height limitations and density requirements. Building permits are also a notice to the tax assessor that potential improvements are being made and the town’s assessor will adjust the property valuation accordingly. This may sound like a negative, but if you try to sell your home, it is positive because you will have documentation showing compliance. 

Celebrate & Enjoy

Once everything is complete, you can relax and enjoy your new space with the peace of mind that everything was done right the first time and start planning your next home improvement project!