A permit is more than just a way for your local government to collect fees, they help to ensure safety and with conserving energy by regulating construction. Proper permits are essential when you need to sell your home. Not having them can make the sale process more complicated and can even cancel it in some cases. Failing to get the proper permits can cause issues during a remodel including work delays and the need to redo work that has already been completed.

When do you not need a permit?

If a remodel is primarily cosmetic — such as replacing a faucet or installing a new countertop — you probably won’t need a permit in most parts of the US. Basic work that usually won’t require a permit includes painting, replacing existing windows and installing new countertops. You won’t need a permit to remove and replace cabinets in the same location. Keep in mind that unscrupulous contractors will often claim that certain jobs don’t require permits. If your contractor claims that your kitchen or bathroom remodel doesn’t need a permit, be wary. They may be willing to sacrifice safety and quality to lower the cost. If you are working with a licensed contractor, they should know which permits are needed. Some permits may be issued right away; with others, plans must be inspected first so it may take weeks to get a permit. While permits are often connected to the expense of a project — low-cost changes and alterations usually don’t need permits — this is not always the case. Sometimes small alterations do need permitting. If you need to work on load-bearing supports or the building envelope, you might need a permit. Similarly, you might need one if your kitchen remodel involves reducing light or ventilation.

Kitchen Remodel Projects that Require Permits

Windows and Doors

Egress is an area that requires a permit in many places. You will need one if you are adding a new window or a door, or enlarging an existing window or door.

Electrical Work

If you are repairing or installing electricals like lighting or ceiling fans, you will need to get a permit. You will need a permit for rerouting electrical wires. Due to the risk of electrocution and fire, there is a lot less flexibility when it comes to electrical permits as compared to something like plumbing. You can replace electrical lights and outlets if the outlet is going into an existing outlet box. Other alterations are forbidden such as installing a grounded outlet into an ungrounded box and moving electrical outlets. If you need GFCI outlets installed, you will need to call an electrician.


The installation, repair or alteration of HVAC or gas lines will require a permit as will some plumbing work. You will most likely need a plumbing permit with a major remodel that requires moving a sink from one part of the room to another. You will also need a permit if you want to change your pipes from galvanized to another material like PEX or copper.

Walls and Floors

Any work requiring an electrical or plumbing permit will probably need a building permit as well. Major kitchen remodels require walls to be opened up and the removal of flooring and tile. All of this will require you to have a building permit.

Permits and Cost

You should always factor the cost of permits into that of the job that you are doing. Learn how much you will be expected to pay. The costs vary by municipality and there are no federal or state standards. This is one area where a little research can save you money.

Applying for a Permit

To apply for a permit, you will need drawings of the property in its current state. You will use those drawings for plans showing your intended alterations. Depending on where you live, the city might have to review your plans before you are granted a permit.

What to Expect From Inspections

After you get your permit and start the project, you will need to have it inspected periodically. If you are working with a contractor, he or she will be the one who handles inspections. Keep in mind that this part of the process tends to cause delays because your contractor will have to make an appointment with the inspector and then stop working until the inspection. If the inspector has a problem with something, they will fail it and your contractor will need to correct the issue before making another appointment. Your contractor should be able to handle the permitting process for you. They can take care of scheduling appointments and filling out the paperwork. If you need help with the process of remodeling your kitchen, we can help to make things less complicated. Contact us today using our contact form.

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