What Home Renovation Projects Require Building Permits?

Did you know there were over 42,000 building permits issued in Los Angeles in the first quarter of 2022 alone?

When people had to spend more time at home, renovation projects became commonplace. Homeowners wanted to make the most of the space they had, and adding or making large changes was a perfect way to do that. You can’t just grab a sledgehammer and knock down your walls, though.

There are certain projects that require building permits to start, and we’re here to tell you about a few of them. Read on to learn about the most common ones out there.

Fence Installation and Repair

It’s easy to assume you can just build a fence in your backyard. It’s simple, so it doesn’t require anything, right? That’s where you’d be wrong, though.

Many municipalities require pre-build evaluations and permitting to be submitted before you can start work. You might even find that your city has specific restrictions on the material, height, and look of your fence. Most of the time, though, they just want to make sure you’re installing on your property line, and that you’re doing it correctly.

New Windows

When you want to add new windows to your home, you’re going to need a permit. Remember, though, that this isn’t always necessary for replacing the ones you already have. It’s important to make sure first.

A lot of departments simply require that the replacement window be the same size as the previous one, but others might insist on matching the specific material and look.

No matter what, remember that your windows are highly visible. If someone sees you making those changes, or notices a difference, it could mean big trouble for you.

Plumbing and Electrical

If you’re installing any new plumbing or removing the old, you’ll need a permit. Any job that requires electrical work does as well in order to ensure the work is up to code. Even if you’re only moving an outlet or installing a new one, it’s important to have your paperwork in order.


If you’re in need of extra storage, you’ll have to go through the government. A lot of municipalities, however, allow construction without a permit if they fit certain restrictions, including height and the distance from your property lines.

Making the decision to run water or electricity to the shed increases the likelihood of needing a permit, though. You might be required to have footers or certain foundation requirements so it can withstand certain weather. Working with a professional for this step might be your best bet if you’re confused at all, though.

Structural Changes

The permits that come with structural changes are necessary because they’re how the government determines whether or not your home can withstand the work you’d like to do. Before you apply, you should have plans drawn up that meet the local code.

Common add-ons that might need permits include bedrooms, garages, most decks, and especially new rooms you’d like to add. This step is going to keep things safe for everyone in your home.

Soil Grading

Bringing in dirt or soil might not seem like something worthy of a permit, but it is in the eyes of most local governments.

Now, the amount of work you’re doing will make a difference here. If you’re simply spreading soil to solve a small problem, you’re more than likely fine. However, if you’re bringing in an entire truckload to do something like even out a section of your yard, you’ll likely need to get permits.

To get this permit, you’ll usually need a sketch that shows the work you’re doing won’t create problems for other people or the land. Even if it’s a small project, it’s best to check before you start digging. Another reminder, don’t forget to have underground utilities marked before you begin digging as well.

Gas Stove

You’ll need a permit to work on any gas lines on your property. If things go wrong, you’re not only posing a risk to you and your family, but also to the entire neighborhood. Depending on the city you live in, though, you might even have to call someone out to connect a gas stove to a preexisting gas line.

More often than not, when you notice strict guidelines like this, it’s because there were problems (like an explosion) at one point recently. This is usually followed by a crackdown on any potential risks. If you want to avoid permits of any kind, be sure to ask the salesperson when you’re getting your oven.

They’ll be able to tell you about installing it yourself or with a professional, and they’ll know the local laws required to install it.

Emergency Repairs

You won’t need a permit to stabilize your home in the event of an emergency, but you will need a permit when the time for permanent repair comes. Most areas allow work to begin while the permit is in process, though, or they have an expedited process for approval.

If you’re in a tough spot, make sure you’re transparent about the urgency of the situation when you call to get the permit.

Are You Considering Any Renovation Projects?

If you’re considering any renovation projects, it’s important not to skip the permitting process. It can feel tempting, but neglecting any step of the process is only going to lead to problems with your local municipalities. You could face hefty fines, and you risk your project being stopped altogether.

Working with the right professionals, though, can help you avoid problems altogether. Luckily, we’re here to help. Contact us today to get a quote for your project.


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