Do I Need A Permit?
Whenever you construct, reconstruct, enlarge, alter, or demolish a structure, a permit is required prior to starting the work. There are several types of permits that may be necessary for any residential project. Depending on the scope of the project, you may need more than one permit.
Learn about the different types of permits below and take a look at types of projects that require a permit.
Please note that this list is not all inclusive. If you are undertaking a home improvement project not included on this page or if you have questions about a residential project, please call the Building Inspections Department at (540) 382-6120.
If you are doing any emergency repairs or equipment replacement, you may obtain a permit the next working day following the emergency. Permit applications for non-emergency work MUST be submitted, approved, and paid for prior to beginning work on the project.
The following projects require a Building Permit:
1. Building a new house
2. Building an addition onto an existing house or attached garage
3. Converting an existing deck or screened porch to Florida room (sunroom)
4. Building, replacing, adding to and making structural repairs to a deck whether it is attached to the main structure or not
5. Building or installing an attached or detached garage or carport
6. Converting a garage to a habitable space
7. Building a porch, screened porch, deck, associated steps or ramp
8. Building or installing any storage building 256 square feet or more in area (less than 256 square feet still requires a zoning permit)
9. Finishing an unfinished attic, basement or room over a garage
10. Moving, removing, or adding a wall or partition
11. Repairing, altering, enlarging, or modifying any structural element of the house, including:
a. Any damaged structural element, such as load bearing stud walls, column piers, footings, foundations, floor joists, rafters, beams or girders
b. Enlarging or adding a door opening or window opening
12. Changing the use of the structure (example: change from residential use to a business use)
13. Installing a pool (permanent or storable), hot tub, or spa that is greater than 150 square feet, 5000 gallons in capacity, and more than 24 inches deep
14. Building, replacing, or repairing (structurally) a retaining wall that is greater than 24 inches in height or that supports load from a structure
The following types of projects require an Electrical Permit:
1. Providing new electrical service or wiring
2. Upgrading electrical service
3. Adding a permanent generator backup to an existing electrical panel, service equipment, and similar devices
4. Installing or replacing any electrical wiring, panel board, service equipment, or disconnecting means
5. Any wiring that penetrates a fire rated assembly, and any wiring that is installed in a plenum, or both
The following types of projects require a Gas permit:
1. Any construction that requires:
a. Removing, replacing or installing any gas appliances or equipment, including piping, gas logs, water heaters, furnaces. Appliances that are not required to have a permit for replacement are cook tops, stoves, ranges and dryers.
b. Installation of new propane tanks or replacing a propane tank of a different capacity or location
These types of projects require a Mechanical Permit:
1. Installing new mechanical equipment (e.g. new air conditioner, heat pump, furnace, etc.), whether in a new construction or existing structure
2. Replacing any furnace, hydronic piping (hot water piping), or associated ductwork
3. Installing or replacing any flue or new vent associated with mechanical equipment
4. Replacing an existing furnace with one that utilizes a different fuel
Note: A chimney reline requires a building permit, not a mechanical permit. If the mechanical work involves gas, a gas permit will also be required. If the mechanical work involves electrical work, an electrical permit will also be required.
The following types of projects require a Plumbing Permit:
1. Installing any new piping or fixtures, whether in a new construction or existing structure
2. Replacing any plumbing pipe, such as hot and cold water supply and water and sewer connections
3. Installing lawn irrigation backflow prevention device
The following types of projects require a Zoning Permit:
1. Screening in or covering an existing porch or deck
2. Building or installing a storage building less than 200 square feet in area
A Demolition Permit is required any time a structure is being razed and returned to original grade. This includes all demolition on houses, detached buildings, commercial structures, etc.
The demolition permit is not intended for the removal of interior walls (renovation work).
For the Demolition Permit, the homeowner/contractor shall:
1. Complete a Building Permit Application
2. Complete the Asbestos and Compliance Certification Form and provide test results if applicable. See asbestos information (PDF).
3. Ensure that, if asbestos is removed, that a permit application is submitted by the licensed contractor who performed the removal.
The permit holder is responsible for notifying the Building Department when the demolition is complete. An inspection will be made to confirm that the demolition is complete, all demolition debris is removed, and the grade has been restored to the point where the land will drain.
Work that does NOT require a permit
The building code allows some types of work to be done without obtaining a permit. While a permit is not required, the work must still be performed in compliance with the code. The following information pertains to single family dwellings only; it does not pertain to apartments, condominiums or townhouses. Some examples of work that does not require a permit include:
1. Making ordinary repairs and improvements, including, but not limited to:
a. Painting the inside or outside of the house or detached structures
b. Repairing drywall, plaster, siding, etc.; re-roofing
c. Installing new floor coverings, such as vinyl, carpet, or hardwood
d. Installing or refurbishing cabinetry
e. Repairing or replacing porch flooring or deck flooring. (Note: A permit is required to repair or replace joists or girders.)
f. Repairing or replacing handrails on a porch
g. Installing or replacing doors and windows, including storm windows, where no structural change is performed
h. Installing or replacing gutters and downspouts
2. Installing driveways or sidewalks
3. Constructing or installing a storage shed, playhouse, etc., 200 square feet or less in area
4. Fences of any height, unless required for pedestrian safety or used for the barrier of a swimming pool. (Please note that a zoning permit is still required.)
5. Building recreational equipment, such as swings, skateboard ramps, jungle gyms, etc.
6. Adding insulation
7. Installing any wiring or equipment which operates at less than 50 volts
8. Installing a security alarm system
9. Replacing an electrical water heater with a new electric water heater
10. Replacing electrical fixtures, such as switches and receptacles
11. Replacing a ceiling fan to a pre-wired switch, that has a ceiling fan rated and supported box
12. Replacing plumbing fixtures, such as sinks, toilets, faucets, etc.
13. Retaining walls that retain less than 2’ of unbalanced fill
14. Replacing electrical cook top stoves, ranges, and dryers
If you have questions about whether a permit is required, please call the Building Inspection office at (540) 382-6120.