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What Getting A Permit For Bathroom Renovations Entails

You want to improve the state of your bathroom, or perhaps, renovate it. But then, you ask, do bathroom renovations need a permit? After all, you wouldn’t want your renovations to fall outside the prescribed parameters used by building inspectors. Read on to know what getting a permit for bathroom renovations entails and the factors to consider.

Differences Between Renovation And Remodeling

The terms renovation and remodelling are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. The difference lies in the extent of the changes being made.

Renovating involves changing or updating the look of an existing structure. Here, the changes are rather cosmetic. On the other hand, a remodel includes making changes to the design of a building by demolition and reconstruction.

For instance, if you are changing tiles or repainting your bathroom walls, you are renovating. However, if you are doing extensive work like moving the plumbing pipes or breaking down walls, that is remodeling.

Furthermore, you can use an experienced repair person for renovations. However, remodeling involves more complex and specialised work that requires professionals. Sometimes, a building surveyor, architect, or building engineer needs to be available.

Clearly, renovations are cheaper than remodeling. The budget is more specific, and there are fewer surprises. Generally, after remodeling, which focuses more on structural elements, you have to factor in costs for renovating work such as flooring and painting.

What Is A Building Permit?

A building permit is a written authorization secured from your local council, township, or county that allows you to perform any project or repair work in that locality. The document legalises the renovations being done in light of local ordinances. It also grants township, or local officials access to inspect the renovations or remodeling taking place. Building permits are necessary to ensure work is done safely and complies with building, zoning, and construction codes.

What Is Unpermitted Work?

Unpermitted work is a term that describes renovations or remodeling done on a home without the necessary permits that renovation requires. That being said, unpermitted work is illegal, as stated by local regulations.

Generally, any modification made to a home that should have required a permit but was not issued one is regarded as unpermitted work.

Such unpermitted work often includes electrical, plumbing, or structural modifications. Such unpermitted work may be carried out by the homeowner, contractor, or repairman. On some occasions, it is done without the knowledge of the homeowner. After all, some contractors do ignore permit requirements when they want to give competitive quotes. In the same vein, the homeowners may want to save some money.

Reasons Some Home Owners Do Not Get A Permit

  • First, some people feel the process of getting a permit would slow down the renovations.
  • Second, many avoid getting permits to save money. They feel getting the proper permits and following the regulations would be more expensive. This is especially so for homeowners who plan on remaining in their homes for a long time.
  • Third, still others deliberately avoid getting a permit to keep the assessed real estate value of their home artificially low. For instance, with bathroom renovations omitted in the records, the local township would not be collecting the estate’s value each year in the form of taxes.

Reasons For Getting A Permit For Bathroom Renovations

First, getting a permit provides a long-lasting sense of safety and security. Fine, the process can take some time, but you feel secure and safe in the renovations in the long run. Second, you may have to cut open your walls to show good plumbing or electrical work later. That is to say; you may later do more work when you delay getting your permit till after renovations.

Besides, assuming you wish to sell your home in the future, how proper would you look if you could provide permits on your property? Compare this with applying for permits retroactively or selling your property without a permit and at a discount. In the same vein, something could go wrong, and you may need to file a claim from your insurance company. They could find just cause to reject your claim if you do not have correct permits in place.

Moreover, getting a permit makes you or your contractors feel more accountable for the job. Furthermore, you feel secure in passing down the home to a buyer in the future. Lastly, different states have varying regulations regarding permits for bathroom renovations. Failure to meet these regulations could result in some amount of fines and other penalties. Moreover, you may end up doing double work to have the renovations meet up to regulation codes. For instance, previous homeowners are sometimes brought to book when current home buyers discover unauthorised work once they hire an inspector.

What Kind Of Bathroom Renovations Require A Permit?

The requirements for permits vary from city to city. As such, there are, at present, no federal or state standards for bathroom renovations. However, certain municipalities will require you to get a permit if your renovation cost is above an amount, like $5,000.

Typically, when you make changes to the plumbing, electrical, or structural systems in your bathroom, you would need a permit.

The following are examples of bathroom renovations that need a permit.

Plumbing Work or Sewage Project

It is in your best interest to get a permit before making alterations to the plumbing system. This includes moving or extending the plumbing. Any work on the sewer line also requires a permit.

Replacing Your Bathtub or Sink

Indeed, you need a plumbing permit to install a bathtub. Likely, you would need to add new plumbing lines to the bathroom or reposition existing ones.

Structural Changes

Similarly, you need a building permit to repair the floor, sub-floor, or wall. This includes small moves like moving an existing shower wall. Likewise, a permit is required if you are replacing portions damaged by dry rot, termites, or other structural deficiencies. In fact, any renovation that drastically changes the footprint of the bathroom would likely need a permit.

Installing Tile

In the same vein, a structural change like tiling the bathroom needs a permit. After all, you would have to work with waterproofing and plumbing.

Electrical Work

Some cities require you have a permit to add a new outlet.

Window Installation

Activities like adding windows, skylights, and exterior doors need a permit. Adding skylights, for instance, would change the roofline of your bathroom.

HVAC Project

HVAC projects such as installing a new water heater or replacing one require a permit. Another example is installing a new furnace or air conditioner.

Ventilation System Changes

When performing bathroom renovations, you ensure changes made to the ventilation system meet the renovation checklist. Otherwise, you have to get a permit.

Bathroom Renovations That Rarely Require A Permit

You have to confirm from your local permitting office, but generally, the following bathroom renovations do not need a permit.

Simple Swaps of Existing Fixtures or Finishes

Examples of simple swaps include replacing a toilet or sink in the exact location and changing existing flooring. However, changing the visual elements of your bathroom, such as light fixtures and fittings, does not require a permit. The same goes for installing new faucets and replacing electrical outlets.


Go ahead and add that fresh coat of paint. You are not making electrical, plumbing, or structural changes. Thus, you do not need a permit.

Swapping or Extending Countertop

You need not apply for a permit when you need to change countertops or extend them.

How To Get A Permit For Bathroom Renovations

While the legal responsibility for getting the permit lies on you, your renovator can manage the process. This means that you have to be sure you are using a licenced professional contractor. This will ensure they can prompt you when a permit is needed.

Moreover, depending on the renovation project, plans and drawings may need to be provided.

1. Fill Out All Needed Permits From the Local Building Office

If you are planning extensive renovations, you may need multiple planning permits. Remember to include drawings and schematics where necessary.

2. Submit and Make Your Payment for Filing

You will be given an official licence if your permit is approved. The time it takes depends on what renovations you have in mind.

3. Post the Permit Sign

This should be done in the area of the renovation project.

4. An Official Inspector Will Check the Renovations

Any changes the inspector recommends will require a second inspection visit.

Upon completion of the project and approval from the inspector, you can remove the permit. Usually, you get a certificate of final inspection.

How Bathroom Renovation Permits Are Charged

The cost for a bathroom renovation permit varies based on the location and extent of the renovation. Moreover, some cities have flat rates while others charge a percentage of the costs of the project.

To Sum It Up

You may be among those who would want the bathroom of their dreams. This could involve making outright installs and upgrades or simply making repairs. Your concern does not stop at getting the latest styles and fixtures. It includes knowing what getting permits for bathroom renovations entails. Furthermore, you have to make sure you follow the right processes.

There are friendly, experienced, and fully qualified tradesmen out there to help you. From residential bathroom renovation projects to premium installations in commercial settings, they are fully equipped to meet your needs.

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