When you are selling your house, most buyer’s mortgage companies ask the seller to sign an affidavit testifying to the fact that they pulled the necessary permits whenever they did any work to the house. This is a legal document and could open you up to substantial liability. So, the first question I often get is, “How do I know if I need a permit?”
As with almost every question that I receive the most appropriate answer is, “It depends.” It depends on a bunch of things like, where your house is located, what type of work are you doing, who is doing the work, is the work structural, and maybe even who you ask.
For instance, in the City of Delaware, on their website, it says:
“All new construction, alterations, improvements, and replacements require approval of a permit prior to the start of construction.”
So, does that mean I need a permit to change a light bulb? It would seem that it gives the city the right to wait outside of the hardware store and tail you home to put a stop to any rogue home improvement that may be going on.
On the other hand, when you go out a considerable distance into the country, there may be no requirements for general permits because there are no inspectors. Or, there may be a requirement for a permit only for specific things like septic where the health department might have inspectors, but no other personnel exist.
At the end of the day, the honest answer is that you need to check with your “jurisdiction having authority.” Most of the time that will be the municipality in which you live. If you live in the country, it is likely the township or the county.
My experience is that these building department folks are good people and are more than willing to help you figure out what you need. You just need to ask.
…Helping YOU is What We’re Here to Do!