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5 Things You May Not Realize You Need a Permit For

May 23, 2020 by Maurie Backman

As a homeowner, you're probably all too aware that when things break in your home, or when you want things upgraded, time is often of the essence. The last thing you want is for home improvement projects or repairs to drag on, yet these jobs can often get held up when a permit from your town or city is required to get started.

Now, you're probably aware that there are certain jobs that always require a permit. Generally speaking, any type of plumbing or electrical work must have a permit attached to it, and the same holds true for any major structure you're building on your property, like a deck, fence, or in-ground swimming pool. But you may be surprised to learn that depending on where you live, a permit could be required for the following projects as well.

1. Retaining walls

Retaining walls can serve both structural and decorative purposes, but once they exceed a certain height, you'll generally run into permit territory. Of course, the specifics of whether a permit is required will depend on where you live, but if you're building a retaining wall, it pays to put in a call and see what's necessary.

2. Roof repairs

You probably know that you need a permit to install a new roof, but in some cases, you may need one for roof repairs as well. If you're patching over a certain portion of your roof, the scope of the repair may be substantial enough to trigger the need for a permit, so check with your town's building department before you move forward.

3. New windows

It's a common upgrade to replace windows that are drafty or just plain unsightly. But while you'd think you could just pop out your old windows and put in new ones, in some towns and cities, you may need a permit to go that route. Find out before you order those windows to ensure that your replacements meet whatever requirements might come into play.

4. Sheds

Putting in a shed is generally pretty easy, especially if you're buying a prefabricated unit and plopping it down somewhere in your backyard. But depending on where you live and the size of that shed, a permit may be necessary, so get the facts before you pay for one.

5. Temporary above-ground pools

It's clear that if you're going to dig up a chunk of your backyard and have a swimming pool installed, it's grounds for a permit. But many homeowners are shocked to learn that above-ground pools often require a permit -- including the blow-up kinds that can be taken down easily. In some areas, a permit is required for temporary pools of a certain height, so find out what rules apply where you live.

Though getting a permit may seem like an annoying (and, in some cases, expensive) step on the road to fixing or improving your home, remember that a permit isn't just about bureaucracy and paperwork. Having a permit means that someone official has reviewed your plans and agrees that you're ready to move forward with the work. Also, when you get a permit to have work done on your home, there's often an inspection component that goes with it. That inspection can help ensure that the work in question is done correctly, so before you moan about getting a permit, remember that ultimately, it's for your own good and safety.

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