Do You Need Permits To Remodel A Bathroom? (All States)

When getting ready to remodel your bathroom, there is more to worry about than the new additions to your home. You will need to get the proper permits in order to be in accordance with the laws in your area. While the permit requirements vary by state, there are some general guidelines you can follow.

You always need a permit to remodel your bathroom if you are planning major renovations. That being said whether you need a permit to remodel your bathroom will depend on where you live and the type of remodeling that you are planning. All states in the US will require permits for major bathroom remodeling.

This guide will help you determine whether you need a permit for your planned remodel in your area. This is vital information that you need to be aware of to avoid issues with your remodel in the future.

When Do You Need Permits For A Bathroom?

There are some projects that require a permit, and there are others that do not. Read the rest of the article to find out which tasks need a permit and what permits are necessary for your area.

Minor Plumbing Jobs

In the case of a bathroom remodel, you can make minor plumbing changes without the need for a permit. The requirements vary by location across the country, however. In New York City, for example, the Department of Buildings provides the following information:

“The simple repair or direct replacement of existing faucets or fixtures such as toilets and sinks are considered cosmetic work and do not require a permit.” It should be noted that direct replacement does not involve removing or altering the fixture’s hot and cold shutoff valves or fixture trap in any way.”

The valves and trap don’t need to be replaced when you replace a faucet, so you don’t need a permit to do that.

Minor Electrical Jobs

 A permit is usually not needed for minor electrical work in a bathroom remodel, in contrast to major electrical work. In accordance with the DOB again:

In most cases, electrical permits are required for electrical work that is performed in a residential home or business, even if the work involves handling electrical wires.

If you are just replacing a light fixture or switch, what should you do? A general contractor will be able to walk you through the process.

The good news is that you can do simple repairs and fixtures replacements without a permit when it comes to plumbing, but not when it comes to electrical work.

Besides that, this is considered remodeling; which means that you will have to deal with permits, professionals, and a whole lot more complexity. You shouldn’t worry, however, as the process is clear-cut, even if it is slow. Working with professionals who know what they are doing is the key to a successful project.


Complete Remodel

A complete remodel of your bathroom will always require acquiring a permit. Bathroom remodeling, for the purposes of our discussion here, involves replacing an old bathtub with a new one, a new toilet, and a new sink, which may either be freestanding or incorporated into cabinetry.

Many partial to full home renovations begin with a simple change, such as a new faucet or new flooring, as the first step towards a more substantial renovation. As people realize that they do not want to live with that bathroom anymore, they become more eager to change things up.

Now that we have covered some of the basics regarding remodeling permits, we can get more specific on which states will require you to acquire a permit and under what circumstances. This is important information to consider before starting any remodeling job.

What States Require Permits To Remodel A Bathroom?

Every state in the US will require permits for certain remodeling plans you have for your bathroom. While this will vary by state, there are some general guidelines that all states share. These guidelines will be listed in the section below.

Permits Always Required (All States)

Remodel ComponentType Of Project
WallsDemolish A Wall
RoofChange Roof Line
LayoutExpanding Bathroom
ElectricalInstalling Electrical Wiring
FencesFence Installation
DemolitionAny Demolition
DecksDeck Addition
SewerAny Sewage Related Renovations
AdditionAny Building Additions
Driveway or GarageGarage Or Carport Addition
Windows and DoorsWindows And Door Installation
Fireplace and ChimneyFireplace And Chimney Installation
GaragesGarage Conversions
HVACFurnace Or Air Conditioner Installation
Water HeatersWater Heater Installation
PlumbingAny Plumbing Renovations
RoofingAny Roofing Additions Or Modifications
Swimming PoolPool Installation


Permits Sometimes Required (All States)

Remodel ComponentProject Type
PlumbingAny Remodel That Involves Plumbing
WallsSimple Wall Demolishing Inside The Bathroom
Doors and WindowsReplacing Doors In The Bathroom
LandscapingCutting Down Trees
LandscapingInstalling Walls Taller Than 4ft


Permits Not Required (All States)

Remodel ComponentProject Type
RoofRoofing Installation
DemolitionUsing Your Own Dumpster For Disposal
FlooringInstalling Flooring In Your Bathroom
PlumbingReplacing A Sink
PaintingPainting Inside Or Outside Bathroom
KitchenCountertop Replacement
SidingNew Siding Installation
ElectricalLight Fixture Installation
DecksDeck Installation Lower Than 30 inches
ExteriorsWorkshop Or Shed Installation
LandscapingBuilding Tree Houses
FencesFence Installation
Property BoundariesProperty Boundary Installation
LandscapingWall Installation Less Than 4 feet
DecksDeck Surface Replacement
Bathrooms and KitchensBathroom And Kitchen Fixture Installation
AppliancesAppliance Replacement

The tables above detail the permit regulations regarding all types of major home remodels, including bathroom and plumbing related. Because remodeling your bathroom may involve altering several aspects of your home, it is important to be aware of all of the possible permit requirements.

Understanding Building Codes By Country

If you live in another part of the U.S., you will need to determine what the local requirements are for bathroom remodeling permits in your area. A lot of counties do not have a specific building code, but they do require a permit and an inspection for certain types of work, such as septic systems, plumbing, and electrical work, which may require a permit and an inspection.

There may be some ambiguity in this scenario, so it is a great idea to do preliminary research on local building websites before speaking with your contractor.

Unfortunately, updates to these regulations do not happen on a regular basis on their websites, and the same holds true for the official websites as well. Because of this, you will receive the latest information from the people who deal with these issues on a daily basis, the general contractors, who deal with them regularly.

How Much Does It Cost To Remodel Your Bathroom?

It is important to note that the cost of a bathroom remodel permit will vary in price depending on both the location and the complexity of the project. It is estimated that the average cost of a building permit can be between $406 and $2,222, according to HomeAdvisor.

Now that you are aware of the potential costs of your remodel, we can dive into the permit application process.

Bathroom Remodeling

How To Get A Permit For Your Bathroom

In order to avoid confusion over whether or not you need a permit, it is a good idea to take a few minutes and do your research beforehand. It is possible to face fines and code violations if you build without a permit, which could lead to trouble down the road. Once you are ready, follow the steps detailed below to begin the process.

Step One: Plan Your Remodel

There is always a budget and a plan at the beginning of any project. In some instances, you may be able to apply for a renovation permit without a budget, but if you don’t have an outline for your project, you will have trouble getting started.

In the project plan, you outline all of the details about your project, as well as the changes you intend to make to the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. The following information should be included in the plans:

Information about you and your contact details

The address of the parcel and/or the parcel number assigned by the assessor

A detailed description of the work to be done

Architect or engineer with experience in the field

The name of the general contractor who is responsible for the construction

Timeline for the project

Graphs and drawings

As soon as you have completed the project plan, you should take it to the city and request a review before you submit the application for a building permit.


Step Two: Have A Preliminary Review (Optional)

Before you submit your formal application for a permit, it might be in your best interest to visit your local building department first so you can save time (and possibly money).

In this way, they will have a chance to review the proposed project and make sure it fits within their guidelines before approving it. The staff may refer you to other departments for approval after a preliminary review has been conducted by them. Depending on the city, you may be required to obtain planning approval before you are able to apply for a building permit for certain projects.

During the preliminary review, you will be able to clarify what documents will be required to accompany your application. This is also a great time to see if there are any other local requirements you might have missed.

If you would like to make the application process go more smoothly, you can also ask the building department staff for suggestions.

Step Three: Contact Your Local Government

It is now time for you to submit your application. The process of filling out a building permit application is fairly straightforward, but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to go back to the building department and ask them.

It is common for cities to offer downloadable forms as well as printed packets that include all the application forms together. There are instructions on each of the forms, and if you follow those instructions in the letter, you won’t have any problems completing them.

There may be a requirement for you to get approval from your homeowner’s association if you live in a planned community, condo, or townhome. Make sure that you verify this before submitting your application, as if it is not included, you may face delays in the process of approving your permit.

The application packet needs to be submitted once you have completed all the required documents, attached your project plan, and paid the permit fees. Now is the time to start counting down to the building of your bathroom.

Town hall

Step Three: Wait For Acceptance/Rejection

The building department will review your project plan and your application after they have received your application.

Depending on how complex your project is and the current number of applications they have under review, you may have to wait several weeks before you hear back from them. It is likely that the building department will ask for more information during the course of their review process, so be prepared for it. You may also be asked to revise your plans if they request it.

It is true that a well-developed project plan is necessary to get a building permit approved, but there is always the possibility that you could miss something that the building department deems critical. There are many homeowners who hire a professional engineer or architect to avoid this issue in the future.


The following are some general guidelines you should follow in order to determine whether or not a permit is required for your current bathroom remodeling project.

An application for a building permit must be obtained for all projects that involve complex tasks that have the potential to harm, endanger, or damage the health and safety of the building. Furthermore, there are some projects that do not require permits at all, such as painting and adding new lighting fixtures, because these projects have a low potential for damage and risk.

When you are undertaking a significant home renovation project, you always want to work with a reputable company or general contractor that understands what is needed for the project and will be able to pull the necessary permits before the work can begin.

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