Do you need a permit to remodel a bathroom? [2022]

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Do you need a permit to remodel a bathroom? Bathroom remodels are one of the most common home renovations. Since we demand a lot from our bathrooms, upgrading to tubs, faucets, toilets, or tub-to-shower upgrades can be exciting. Besides cost, another major issue to consider, especially for a DIY remodel, is what permits you require and how much it will cost. Building codes dictate how far you can go with these changes before needing a permit.

do you need permits to remodel a bathroom

The answer to whether or not you need a permit for your bathroom remodeling project is yes; you’ll mainly require a license. Making changes to your home’s plumbing, structural, or electrical components requires a permit from the Department of Buildings. However, you don’t need a permit for small aesthetic changes such as repairing plaster, refinishing floors, and painting walls.

Permits vary depending on the city, and currently, there aren’t state or federal standards to regulate home remodel permits. Most bathroom and kitchen makeovers involve changes to electrical and plumbing behind the walls, which require a permit. So, ensure you check with your city to know the building permits needed before moving forward with a DIY. If you’ve hired a licensed contractor, they’ll know what permits are required.

Do you need a permit to replace a toilet?

You may replace or reset your toilet without requiring a permit if the work does not alter the existing plumbing piping system. If your job involves the plumbing itself, like the piping that comes into the house, you will need a permit.

The requirement for a plumbing permit is dictated by the city or municipality where you are doing the job. Each one has their qualifications for when proper permits are needed.

permit to remodel a bathroom sections

Building Permit Cost Average and Processing Time

A building permit is an official document required to begin legally approved construction or renovation on a property. Every jurisdiction has varying requirements for issuing permits. The building codes and fees associated with the permits also vary. The Building and Zoning Board or the Board of Permits and Inspections knows what a homeowner permit requires once the licensed contractor or homeowner submits a plan.

permit to remodel a bathroom official

You can expect to spend a permit fee of $1,200 to $2,000 for large-scale building projects. However, small projects such as a room addition permit may cost $1.500, while a bathroom remodel may cost $500. Since the final cost of building permits varies depending on the type and complexity of the project, it’s best to check with your local government to get an accurate estimate.

After submitting your application, it takes about two weeks for residential property owners to receive a building permit. A commercial property permit may take up to four weeks to get approved. Some permits for small jobs may get approved and received on the same day. Consulting with your local authorities to know the required documentation and what jobs earn a quick turnaround is essential.

What requires a building permit?

The following projects require a building permit:

  • Any new construction to your home
  • Major renovations
  • Room conversions or additions
  • Any plumbing, mechanical, or electrical work to your home
  • Any structural changes to your home

What you should expect from bathroom permit inspections along the way

You are likely to get one or several assessments from your local authorities, depending on the complexity of your bathroom remodel. If, for instance, the permit includes plumbing, building, and electrical components, you could get three different visits from your building inspectors.

The first two visits will be from the plumbing and electrical inspectors when the walls are still open so they can have an up-close examination. After the approval of plumbing and electrical permits, a third inspector will drop by to inspect the building after the walls have been patched or replaced. The building inspection is the final sign-off.

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However, if yours is a little and simple project, you can expect an inspection as easy as just sending images of the ongoing work to the county or city office. A bathroom remodels permit can allow you to coordinate inspection timelines for most county or city offices. They may even sign off the progress of your project remotely.

Check your city’s residential permit rules.

Different states and cities have different rules that govern what you can do during remodeling projects for your home. Make sure you are familiar with the regulations in your town to avoid a breach which could lead to a hefty fine or stoppage of your project.

Why do you need building permits for a small room?

The primary reason why a building permit is required is to ensure the safety of the project and to make sure it complies with construction, zoning, and building codes. The bathroom may be small, but it is part of a whole structure.

Can homeowners apply for the proper permits themselves?

Some states only allow homeowners to apply for a permit only if they are doing the work themselves and if the homeowner has friends or family assisting but not getting paid.

permit to remodel a bathroom themselves

Generally, it’s the work of a licensed contractor from a reputable company to work on the necessary permits.

What happens if you build without the proper permits?

If you get caught building or renovating without a permit, you may be forced to stop your project and pay fines to gain compliance. The violation may result in penalties that match or exceed the total cost of your project. The best idea is always to obtain a permit prior to starting any project.

What should be included in the Builder’s Permit?

Generally, most cities require that mechanical, plumbing, and electrical work be included with the building permit. They may also require separate permits issued to a licensed professional.

Bathroom projects that will likely require permits

Generally, you should expect to apply for permits for any of the following bathroom projects:

Adding or moving an existing sink

If you’ll add new plumbing lines to your bathroom to house a new sink or move an existing one to a different spot in your project, you will require a permit.

Plumbing or sewage projects

A general rule of the bathroom remodel is that you will need a permit if you need to open the walls. Any project that involves moving or extending your plumbing requires a permit.

Replacing a water heater

If your bathroom remodel with a new water heater, it interferes with the HVAC system, hence, you must apply for a permit.

Adding a new outlet

If adding a new outlet in your bathroom involves tearing down a wall, the electrical work requires a permit.

Structural changes or additions

You require a permit for any project that alters the bathroom’s footprint. It could be a small move such as dividing the wall or moving an existing shower wall.

Projects requiring a dumpster on a public street

If there will be demolitions during the project and you’ll need to use a dumpster located in the street instead of a driveway, be prepared to get a permit.

Adding windows or skylights

Erecting a new window or skylight will change the original structure of your bathroom; hence, you’ll need to apply for a permit.

Replacing a bathtub

Replacing your new bathtub involves waterproofing and plumbing; hence you’ll need a permit for the change.

Installing tiles

Tiling the bathroom also deals with plumbing and waterproofing. So, you’re required to have a permit.

Bathroom projects that rarely require a permit

These bathroom makeovers don’t usually require a permit, but you can always consult with your local authorities to be sure.

Swapping existing finishes and fixtures

permit to remodel a bathroom sure

If your plan is a simple switch of the finishes and fixtures, you will certainly not require a permit. That may include replacing light fixtures, replacing a sink or toilet in the exact location, changing the existing flooring, or changing or shower fixtures.


Adding a fresh coat of paint doesn’t need a permit since it doesn’t interfere with electrical, structural or plumbing settings.

Countertop swap

You can often replace existing countertops or add an extension to them without getting a permit.

Urgent plumbing repairs

Replacing leaking pipes in the bathroom doesn’t require a permit if the lines are under five feet in length.

Bathroom projects that may (or may not) need permits

Some bathroom projects fall in a grey area when it comes to the issue of getting a permit. You, therefore, need to pay a visit to your local permitting authority for confirmation before getting started. Such work includes:

Demolishing a non-load-bearing or dividing wall

Bringing down a non-load-bearing wall might require an inspection or a permit. The act will serve as a security measure to avoid negative consequences and ensure the wall is not an integral part of preserving your house’s structural stability.

The project’s cost is above a specific threshold.

In some counties and cities, the estimated budget of a project may trigger a permit. If, for instance, your work is estimated to cost you $5,000, you may be required to apply for a project regardless of the project.

Tips for obtaining a building permit

It can be frustrating to obtain a building permit when you want to get done with your project as soon as possible. The guidelines set by regulatory bodies must be applied for you to get the signature. The following tips can help in easing your mind and saving time when applying for a building permit.

Get familiar with your project.

If you know most details of your project, the process will be quicker. You should be in the state to answer questions such as; how big is your project? are you building something new or renovating and remodeling existing structures? Do you need the residential building permit?

When it comes to permitting services, every detail counts; hence, prepare your mind ahead of the application day. The more you know, the easier for your project to get approval.

Get familiar with your city and state laws.

Since there isn’t a federal or state law governing building permit issuance, you find that different states and cities have varying rules. Research and inquire about all the details about what your city laws are to avoid frustrations. The more knowledgeable you get about your city and state’s requirements, the better off you’ll be when getting permits.

Be organized

When filling out a building permit, you will be required to submit many forms. Prepare beforehand and remain organized, ensuring that all the necessary details in the forms are filled in. Leaving any incomplete information will cost you time to visit the permit offices.

Ask for assistance

Sometimes, you might get lost among all the paperwork and new information, which frustrates you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from building permit expediters whose job is to make the process run smoothly. If you get stuck, they can be of great help.

Finally, do you need a permit to remodel a bathroom?

Giving your bathroom a new look is an exciting project that you probably can’t wait to get done with. However, it doesn’t come easy since you have to be familiar with your state’s laws. Taking your time to get a clearer picture saves you time, and you can see you finish your project.

Ariel Path

With over three decades of experience in food manufacturing and kitchen design, I bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. My expertise spans across various aspects of the culinary world, from kitchen appliances to cooking techniques, food selection, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. My ultimate goal is to educate and inspire you in creating your dream kitchen, where functionality meets aesthetics. As a trusted source, I strive to provide valuable insights and guidance to make your kitchen remodel an enjoyable and successful experience. Together, let's transform your space into a culinary haven that reflects your unique style and meets your specific needs. See more details here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar photo

    I’m going crazy here! We just bought our first house and the amount of paperwork, permits etc we need just to be able to call the team in is insane!

  2. Avatar photo

    Thanks for clearing this up, I had no idea if we needed a permit or not. We have to reroute the plumbing so I’m guessing we have to apply for a permit. It’s a bummer as this will slow us down a bit…

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