Summer is the unofficial home improvement season, and with the summer months fast approaching, many anxious homeowners are gearing up to start those pesky projects that they have put off through the winter.  While we fully encourage this can-do spirit, before you roll up those sleeves and get to work, you may need to deal with some red tape.  Depending on where you live, acquiring a permit may be the first step in your DIY journey.  While most homeowners know that permits are required for major work, like home additions or renovations, you may be surprised by some of the more simple and common projects that require a permit as well.  

Roof Repair

It is fairly common knowledge that if you are having your roof replaced, you will need to get a permit for the work.  But what if you are simply repaying certain areas? The answer: maybe.  In most cases, the necessity of a permit hinges on a few factors.  First, has the roof sustained any structural damage?  If a storm or debris has damaged the structure of the roof, then you will certainly need to acquire a permit, as these types of repairs are considered to be a bit more serious and could compromise the integrity of the structure itself.  Secondly, what is the size of the area needing repair?  If you are looking to make minor fixes to a very small area of your roof, you may not need a permit.  Some jurisdictions allow for homeowners to perform maintenance if it is under a specific size, less than 1/10th of the total size of the roof, for example.  However, these numbers can vary greatly depending on your area, so some research is required.  Additionally, homes in certain high-risk areas, such as high fire danger, or high wind, will require a roof to meet certain additional codes, so it may be necessary for you to acquire further permits or hire professionals if you live in these areas.  The best plan, check with your local building department before you hop on that ladder.

Sheds and Other Outbuildings

We have discussed sheds quite a few times so, by this point, it should come as no surprise that you will need to get approval from your HOA before installing a shed or any other outbuilding on your property.  However, your HOA is not the only stop that you will have to make on your journey to shed-ownerdom.  Depending on the size of your potential structure, as well it’s intended use, you may also need to apply for and be granted a permit.  In most cases, if the shed that you plan to instal is on the small side, say 6 by 8 feet (think a cozy little place for your garden tools to live), then you may not need a permit before building (after you have already gotten the green light from your HOA, that is).  However, if you plan on going bigger, or if you plan to wire your building with electricity, or plan to use the space to do business (you’ll want to take a look at this article as well), then you will likely need to get the proper permitting in order to move forward with your plans.  

Replacing a Water Heater

Many homeowners assume that if they are simply replacing something that already exists within their home, that there is no need to acquire a permit.  This is, indeed, true for many things, stoves, refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc.  However, one specific situation where this is NOT the case, is replacing your hot water heater.  Depending on where you live, you may be required to hire a licenced professional to do the instal, yet other places allow homeowners to do this themselves.  Yet, in either case, you must acquire a permit before installation can take place.  It is even possible that you may be required to ascertain TWO permits, one for electrical and one for plumbing, depending on your specific situation.  In order to be sure that you are doing everything on the up and up, place a call to your local building department, who should be able to answer your questions, and steer you in the right direction.