When Does a Homeowner Need a Building Permit?

Published 4:17 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Even minor home improvement projects may require a permit.  The projects most likely to require a permit are those that change the structure or use of a building.  Some examples of projects that require a permit are: adding or removing walls, converting a garage to living space, roofing, and water heaters. 

If you hire a contractor for your project, they should be the one to pull the permit.  If the homeowner pulls the permit, they must live full-time at the location of the project.  They also must be doing the work themselves, without the aid of a contractor.  A homeowner who pulls a permit will be liable if there is a construction issue or accident.  Examples include worker injuries, damage to adjoining property, gas or water line breaks, etc.

According to Bainbridge-Decatur County Building Official Keith Pollock, a homeowner should be cautious if a contractor tells a homeowner to pull the permit.  This is a red flag that the contractor may not be licensed.  Pollock stated, “If a homeowner is uncertain as to if a contractor is licensed, all they have to do is give us a call.  It’s always a good idea to ask to see a copy of the contractor’s license, don’t just take their word for it.”

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New home construction and additions require plans to be submitted in advance.  Depending on the complexity of the construction project, many will require an inspection to take place during the actual work. All projects must be approved and signed off on at completion by the Building Official.  Fees to obtain a building permit are based on the total cost of the job and the job location. 

Pollock stated, “If a homeowner is working with a contractor who suggests skipping the permitting process, move to another contractor.  It may be a hassle, but will be better than having a “stop-order” issued, or possibly having to remove the work entirely.” All City of Bainbridge and Decatur County permits and applications are located on the City of Bainbridge website under Community Development – Building Department.  The Building Department may also be reached by visiting City Hall or calling (229) 400-9182.