Many people are under the impression that once they buy their home or condo, it's theirs to do with as they please. But that's not always the case. Where major renovations are involved, city planners will likely want to approve your plans first to make sure that you and your contractors are going to adhere to the local building codes. To ensure that they get to review your plans, they require a building permit for many types of renovations such as the ones described below.


Any time you add onto your home, you must seek out a building permit from the local planning office. The reason for this is that you can't just build your addition out of anything. Failure to meet the minimum standards for the building codes can land you in a lot of trouble when you put the property up for sale, because no one's going to want to buy a home that's unsafe. For this reason, we advise that amateur DIYers not attempt additions without the help of an architect or contractor.


Decks may be a minor addition to your mind, but they can cause injuries and accidents if they are built wrong. Posts must be dug at certain intervals and drilled down and secured at certain depths to be safe. Railings must also come up to a certain height and not be spaced to widely that a baby can crawl off the deck and fall. Therefore before adding a deck to your home, even through a contractor, get your plans approved by the permit office.


Any situation where digging is involved - such as installing a pool or water feature or replacing your septic tank - requires a building permit. The reason for this is that city planners often run things like water pipes, sewer lines, and even electricity cables underground in residential neighborhoods and you risk hitting one if you don't show your home plans to the planning office and have them approved.

Fences and Outbuildings

The major issue with fences and outbuildings such as detached garages, barns, and sheds, is that people frequently forget where their property lines are as soon as they get their mortgage loan. As a result your project could encroach on someone else's land if you don't take your plans into the office for approval. Encroachments make selling your home difficult to impossible and could trigger lawsuits from neighbors.

If you have suffered a personal injury because of a home renovators negligence or contractors incompetence, be sure you go over your rights with a law company. You can find the TPI law office at for starters.

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