How to Get a Building Permit

Written by ehow home & garden editor
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Knowing when and how to get a building permit is invaluable information if you are planning on making any changes to your residence or property. Fines are hefty for building without the appropriate permits. Use these steps to learn when you need a building permit and how to get one to save yourself a lot of money in the short run.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Know when you need a building permit and when you don't. If you are doing any structural changes, major landscaping or other large jobs, it's safe to say you need a permit. If you are building a fence, tree house, painting, adding playground equipment, changing existing landscape or changing out fixtures (along with a few other small jobs) you probably don't need a permit, but always ask your city officials first to make sure.

  2. 2

    Make sure the contractor you hire is licensed and bonded. They should also be familiar with the permit process and be able to do all of this for you. This is the easiest way to get a permit if you are not doing the work yourself.

  3. 3

    Know what type of permit you need to do the work you want to do. They are usually divided as follows: electrical, plumbing, re-roof, low voltage and mechanical. This may also affect the permit fee as well.

  4. 4

    Fill out the required application, pay the appropriate fee and submit to your local city building office for approval. The approval could take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks depending on the scale of the project to review, if there are ordinances effected and if there are any questions to be answered along the way.

Tips and warnings

  • Be sure that you know exactly what you are doing before applying for a permit to avoid delays by having to add things on to the application or applying for multiple permits.
  • If you aren't experienced in the work you would like done, hire a professional. You will save yourself money in the long run.

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