One of the most important things to consider when thinking about updating or redoing your home is a building permit. Though building permits are often required for home construction projects, many people don’t give them a second thought.

Of course, there are those projects that basically scream building permit, things such as new construction or a complicated addition. But what about smaller projects? Oftentimes, it doesn’t cross people’s minds that they might need a building permit for smaller home remodeling projects like building a privacy fence or constructing a backyard deck or even swapping out old countertops for new granite countertops.

No matter the size or complexity of your home remodeling project, it is always a good idea to ask yourself “do I really need a building permit?” before you get started.

The I-Codes

Nearly all state, city, and municipal building codes are developed from a larger set of codes known as the I-Codes. These building codes, which include the International Building Code and the International Residential Code, are the baselines for which most building codes are developed.

To put it simply, the I-Codes dictate that you almost always need a building permit when embarking on a home remodeling project. They clearly state that anytime a structure in a home is set to be constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, or demolished that obtaining a building permit is necessary.

Naturally, the I-Codes raise some questions, despite their simplicity. The way the codes are phrased can make it seem like you need a permit for absolutely everything. Even something as small and trivial as tightening a washer on a leaky faucet.

So When Do You Really Need a Building Permit?

Building codes exist for more than to just make construction projects difficult for homeowners. Their primary function is to protect us from unreliable contractors that cut corners during the building process. They also protect us from people that think they can DIY a building project but don’t have the skills, tools, or knowledgeable to safely do so in reality.

A building permit means that an expert will review your plans and help spot mistakes before work begins. It’s a win-win when you think about it. Everything is safe and sound and you know that you won’t bump into any major problems down the road.

Though there is something of a gray area when it comes to exactly which projects require a building permit, it is generally a smart idea to always inquire about a building code, no matter the size of your project. This is actually one of the better reasons to hire/consult a contractor. They know the ins and outs of building codes and will be able to tell you whether or not one is required for your project.

Better Safe Than Sorry: More Than a Silly Cliché

When all is said and done, there is no reason not to inquire about a building permit when starting a new project. There might be a chance that you won’t need one but it is always better to check first. You don’t want to get caught in the middle of a building project by an inspector only to find that what you are doing is illegal. “You are better safe than sorry” is definitely more than just a silly cliché when it comes to home construction.