When undertaking a remodel or home improvement project, how do you know when you need a building permit from your city government?

Cities require permits to ensure that the changes on a home go on record. The changes also are reviewed by an inspector to ensure they’re up to code. For example, if you decide to rewire your electricity panel , exposed wires could represent a safety issue to you and your home.

When homeowners sell their home, buyers and lenders will want to know if any remodels they did complied with building codes. So the permit could salvage a sale too.

“The general rule of thumb is that structural, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work will require a permit”.

A fence installation or repair, window installations, plumbing and electrical work, replacing the water heater or changes to the ventilation system, as well as gas and wood fireplaces all will likely require a permit for the work. Also, any additions or upgrades made to the home, typically of $5,000 or more, will likely require a permit.

On the flip side, permits likely won’t be needed for painting, installing floors or faucets, or landscaping work.

Permit requirements vary by city. Check with the local building department to be on the safe side.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.