When does your home improvement project require a permit?

home construction improvement
Posted at 6:00 AM, Jul 08, 2014
and last updated 2016-07-04 12:07:43-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) --  Do you need a permit to renovate your bathroom? What about to build a deck?  It can be confusing for homeowners to figure out, but shouldn't be ignored.

In this Angie's List report, how to determine if your project requires a permit and the pitfalls of not pulling one.

Mark Stauffer has lived in this home for 35 years, and recently he decided it's time to make some updates.

"There is electrical, plumbing, and structural work being done and those all require permits," he said.

Whether your home improvement project requires a permit varies depending on where you live - but most laws require that you not build, move, significantly alter or add to a building without a permit.

"It actually provides you important protection. For example, in some scenarios a contractor must be licensed in order to get the permit so it adds an extra layer of protection for you," said Angie Hicks of Angie's List.

A permit for a small project is in the $100 range, while a bigger reno like a home addition can cost more than $900. If you skip the permit process in order to save a few bucks, Angie's List warns you could end up paying more in the long run.

"If you skip pulling a permit you might end up paying fines, it could stop the work being done, they may make you re-do it. In some scenarios when it comes down to electrical work and the electrical work causes a fire your homeowner's insurance may not cover it," said Hicks.

A good rule is to check with your local building department, no matter if you're doing the work yourself or hiring a contractor.

Do your own research and question any contractor who remodels without pulling a permit.

You can catch the latest Angie's List report every Tuesday morning on WTXL Sunrise.