Obtaining construction permits is as much of the building process as hammers, nails and drywall.

While this process can be cumbersome, WillowTree is ready to help you along the way to make things as easy as possible. But just so you know, here are 8 facts about permitting:


  1. Get ready for the process.

The Spruce says every would-be renovator or homebuilder should prepare themselves for the following process: 

  • Contact your local building office and describe the project you want to do and get the necessary documents and permit information. 
  • Prepare the permit application, including whatever additional materials may be required (including, perhaps, drawings). 
  • Submit the building permit application and pay whatever fees are required to receive the official permit certificate. 
  • Post the building permit certificate as required in a visible place.
  • Arrange for an inspector to visit the work site and review the quality of the work, at predetermined milestones in the project. If changes are ordered, make those changes and have them review the work. Expect a “rough-in” midway inspection and a final inspection upon completion of the project.
  • Once the work is approved by the inspector, you no longer need to display the permit certificate.


  1. Not every remodel project requires a permit (but most do). 

Every city, county and state has its own requirements as it relates to obtaining permits, relative to those locales’ specific environments and dangers. 

So while there’s not a blanket rule as it relates to the permitting process, for the most part, you can count on paying for permits if you’re going to alter the structure, use or safety of a building. Examples Nolo gives include adding or removing walls, converting a garage to a living room, changing pipes in your house, re-roofing or doing any kind of demolition. 

You usually won’t need a permit for projects such as repainting your house, adding kitchen cabinets, replacing most appliances, repaving the driveway, installing new floors or building a small fence or gate. 


  1. Plan on spending at least $1,000 on permits.

The national average cost of permits for remodels or building projects is $1,036 according to HomeAdvisor data. Most homeowners spend between $363 and $1,730. So while there’s a chance your project could come in at less than that, it’s a good idea to budget around a grand. (Of course, if you’re using the expertise of WillowTree in your home building project, we’ll include permits in your budgetary estimate.) 


  1. A lot of different factors determine your final permit cost. 

While there are great tools out there to at least get you in the ballpark of your area’s permit costs, your zip code is only the beginning of what’s taken into account. Factors such as inspection fees, the value of the work and the scope of the project determine price. A new building project registers a different cost than a remodel, and things like the size and age of the existing structure and the complexity of the remodel factor in. 


  1. You can do some anonymous fact-finding with the permit office. 

According to The Spruce:

You can talk to the permit office anonymously. Some people fear that the moment you call the local building inspections and permit office, you immediately are flagged for scrutiny. This simply isn’t true. The permit office exists to ensure that home improvements are done safely and pose no risk to residents, and inspectors are generally happy to answer questions. If there is no inspector currently available, one will call you back and answer any questions you have.


  1. Building permits aren’t the only thing you have to pay (attention to). 

Don’t forget, the scope of your project matters. If you’re putting an irrigation system in the yard, that’s gonna be a plumbing permit. You’re also going to encounter electrical permits for that room addition, or a mechanical permit for a central air conditioning unit. 


  1. Failing to get permits will haunt you in the long-run. 

Consequences of building without a permit can pile up, Smiley Firm says. Check out some of them:

  • Penalties from being caught; fines may be assessed each time an inspector drives through a neighborhood and sees work being completed without a permit
  • Legal exposure for dangerous or faulty work that could damage property or people
  • Inability to resell or finance a home that wasn’t properly permitted or inspected
  • Lower home value appraisals


  1. The contractor usually deals with the permits. 

Nolo shares:

“If you hired a contractor for your project, it is customary for the contractor to arrange for – or, in contractor lingo, “pull” the permit. This is a good idea because typically the person who pulls the permit is responsible for construction following code.

If you pull the permit, you will be considered the contractor (at least in the eyes of the city) and liable if there is a construction problem. Contractors are also often familiar with the process and the city’s inspector(s). The contractor’s preexisting relationship with the city may work to your benefit.

On the other hand, if your contractor is charging by the hour, you may save money by completing the permit paperwork and submitting it yourself. The scope and complexity of your project will help you decide the best way to work with the city and obtain a permit.”

Got more questions about permits, the process, and what your project might cost in permits? Give WillowTree a call.

We’ll keep this often confusing part of remodeling and home building simple, clear and concise.