Permits: Yes or no?

One of the most FAQs that I get is “Do I have to get a permit for this work?”

A building permit is an approval issued by a local governmental authority to ensure that building plans have been prepared in compliance with local building standards for land use, zoning and construction. Perhaps most importantly, code enforcement and the permitting process is intended to ensure the safety of citizens and visitors alike.

Requirements vary from city to city

Every City entity or Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) has their own requirements for the type and scope of work that must be permitted. But there are some common scope items that will trigger the need for a permit for your interior renovation or finish-out project.

  • Change of use (i.e. office to restaurant space)
  • Removing and/or adding wall partitions in the space
  • Changing or modifying ceiling treatments or finishes
  • Lighting changes
  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System upgrades or changes

Some examples

New construction will require a permit for residential or commercial projects. For existing buildings or structures getting an addition or being renovated, if the scope of the project involves framing, structural changes, mechanical, electrical or plumbing work, you will most likely be required to obtain a building permit prior to the start of the work. For the duration of the project, you will have to follow the requirements of the City or AHJ and get all inspections that are necessary.

If you are not sure if your project qualifies for requiring a building permit, it’s always a good idea to ask the question to the appropriate local governmental agency. A brief call can save you time and money when there is potential for proceeding without a permit and risking a stop work order and associated fines.

Some of the risks

And perish the thought that a fire or structural collapse reveals that the damage was caused by work that wasn’t permitted or inspected. Your insurance could possibly decline to cover this. Other risks include complications when and if you try to sell the building. If a buyers’ inspector uncovers completed work that was not permitted and may not be quite up to code, you could be faced with possibly even undoing previous work and doing it again, with a permit this go ‘round.


Here are links to a few local Central Texas City websites that answer the “Do I need a permit?” question: