How to Get a Permit for Your Home Addition

If you love the home you’re in but feel like you’re short on space, now might be a good time to consider a home addition. Even if you’re unsure how long you’re going to stay in your house, adding square footage can significantly increase the value of your home and give you and your family more elbow room while you are living there.

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Of course, you can’t just leap into this home construction project, no matter how good it sounds. One of the first things you’ll need to do before you start working on your home addition is to get a building permit.

While paperwork is no one’s idea of a good time, getting a building permit is relatively painless—as long as you follow the proper procedure. Requirements to get a building permit vary from city to city, but there are some commonalities that you can expect wherever you live. Here are the basic steps to getting a building permit for your home addition.

Get a Site Plan

You’d be hard-pressed to find a city that doesn’t require you to submit a blueprint or site map of your property before building. A site map, if you haven’t used one before, is a line drawing of your property from an overhead perspective, containing details like the outline of your house, the edge of your property, and any outdoor structures like decks or swimming pools. You can hire a surveyor to create one for you, but it’s a lot cheaper and quicker to order a site plan online from a company that uses satellite imagery to create an accurate plot plan.

Contact Your Local Building Office

You will most likely need to apply for your building permit through your local building office or code enforcement office. If you’re not sure who to contact, visit your city’s government website and search for building permits. Call or email the appropriate office and find out if you can have an application mailed to you or if you need to pick it up in person. This is also a good time to ask a building official whether you need multiple permits. For example, if you’re adding a new bathroom to your home, you would most likely need a plumbing permit, and if you’re adding any wiring, you’ll also need an electrical permit.

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Fill Out Application and Pay Fees

Once you have the correct paperwork, fill it out in as much detail (and as accurately) as possible, keeping in mind that careless errors could significantly delay your home addition project. When you submit it to the building office, you’ll also need to pay any associated fees. If you fail to submit your paperwork or pay the permit fees, you may face steep violation fines, which are much worse than the basic fees. If you pay with a check, you may have to wait for your check to clear before receiving your permit, depending on where you live. Again, this is information you should be able to find on your city government’s website or by talking to someone from the building office.

Schedule an Inspection

Many cities require you to have your home inspected to make sure it—and your building plans—are up to code before you do any construction. If possible, schedule this inspection when you turn in your application. The sooner you have your home inspected, the sooner you can start working on your home addition.

It can take time to process your building permit application, especially if you’re applying for multiple permits, so be patient while you wait. The wait is well worth avoiding any violation fines, and you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful home addition when all is said and done.

Author Bio: Josh Weiss-Roessler is freelance writer who often covers topics related to home construction, improvement, and renovation. He’s also co-owner of Weiss-Roessler Writing, a content marketing service that helps businesses, including many construction and renovation companies, to find new leads for their business through blogs, social media, and web content.