Home remodeling permits: What you need to know

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When taking on home improvement projects, your first step as a responsible homeowner should always be to check whether you need building or renovation permits.

How permits protect homeowners

City governments grant building permits after carrying out proper inspections and filing the necessary documents to keep your renovation projects on record.

While many consider getting permits an arduous process, its long term benefits outweigh the immediate hassles. The process guarantees that all construction and repair work are done according to local building codes, so homeowners are protected from greater inconveniences in the future, such as:

  • Structural instability due to sub-par workmanship
  • Sub-standard building/repair materials
  • Possible injury or threats to health or life (resulting from the above)
  • Costly repairs and/or reworking
  • Fines and penalties from the local government

On top of these, making sure that your home improvement projects are up to code will prove most beneficial when you sell your property. Buyers may haggle you down, if not back out of the deal, if you can’t produce permits for renovation work. They may fear that unauthorized home improvements may prove unreliable and result in flooding, fires, or any of the inconveniences listed above.

Which projects require permits?

Permits are required when your renovation or construction project involves the following:

  • The property’s general structure
  • Electrical wiring
  • Plumbing
  • Natural gas fixtures

Home improvements that do NOT require permits include:

  • Repairing or replacing a leaky faucet or faulty sink
  • Painting and applying wallpaper on interior and exterior walls
  • Minor electrical repairs like replacing an outlet or a light fixture that don’t involve rewiring
  • Carpeting or installing hardwood, laminate, or vinyl tile flooring
  • Replacing countertops
  • Minor landscaping work

Always remember that the best and safest way to go about any home improvement project is to call or visit your local building permit office. If you’re hiring or working with a contractor, be sure that they are also involved and aware of all discussions regarding your area’s building standards.

Home improvement permits in Silicon Valley

The Santa Clara County and San Mateo County governments enforce the following building codes (with local amendments):

  • 2016 California Building Code
  • 2016 California Residential Code
  • 2016 California Electrical Code
  • 2016 California Mechanical Code
  • 2016 California Plumbing Code
  • 2016 California Fire Code
  • 2016 California Green Building Standards Code (CalGreen)
  • 2016 California Energy Code
  • 1997 Uniform Housing Code

Santa Clara County and certain areas in San Mateo County (San Mateo City) offer Over-the-Counter/Express permit services, which allow homeowners to apply for and receive permits on the same day. These are valid for minor projects, including single-story additions of less than 500 square feet for Santa Clara County.

For more details on building and home improvement permit requirements, follow these links:

For more information about the current real estate opportunities in the Silicon Valley area, get in touch with us today at 650-489-6251. Or email info(at)david&sunny(dotted)com. We offer comprehensive first-class concierge service to ease the homebuying and selling experience.