Renovation Steps 6 and 7 – Applying For a Building Permit and Beginning Construction

By: Kate HambletMarch 20, 2018

Step 6: Apply for a Building Permit

You will most likely need a building permit from your city before starting construction on your renovation.  You can go to your city’s building department website to find out what the residential building permit requirements are.  All cities are different so don’t assume your process will be the same as your sister’s that lives five towns over.
Luckily you now have a contractor and they can guide you through the permit process.  Your contractor will know what is required for your permit application, can help with filling out the application, and can submit the application on your behalf.  There is a building permit fee that you, the project owner, is responsible for paying.  If you do not have a contractor yet, your architect can also help guide you through the permit process.

The plan reviewer at the city may have questions while reviewing your permit application.  Your contractor and architect can help you get the answers you need to get the permit approval.


All cities are different, but the general process for a building permit application goes like this:

  1. Determine if a permit is required.
  2. Download and fill out the application form.
  3. Compile any plans that are required with the application.  This will vary by city and by project type but will usually include floor plans, elevations, building sections, and a site plan if any exterior work is being performed.  Verification that you are meeting the energy code might be required based on the work you are doing.
  4. Bring the application and plans to the city.
  5. Pay the city the building permit fee.  This fee is usually based on the size (either by square foot or by construction cost) of the project and can often be found on the city’s website.
  6. Wait 2-4 weeks (or more or less depending on the city) while they review your application.
  7. Once reviewed and approved, you can pick up your permit.  You are ready to build.
 Construction Renovation

Step 7: Let the Construction Begin!

Phew, you made it to the construction phase!  Congrats to you for working through the design, bidding and permitting phases.  Now you can sit back, relax and watch your home be transformed.  JUST KIDDING.  The construction process is very dynamic.  Unknown conditions will arise (hello, rotted sub floor), changes will need or want to be made and the budget will need nurturing.  As the home owner, you will be involved in the construction process, especially if you are living in the home during the construction!

Things to keep in mind:

  • Surprises will appear, especially in a renovation since many things are physically hidden until construction begins.
  • Changes will happen – hopefully these are kept to a minimum since you worked through your renovation goals early on.
  • Keep tracking your budget.
  • Check in with the contractor regularly.
  • If you are working with an architect, you want them to continue working with you through the construction process.  Your architect will work on your behalf to make sure the project is built per the plans and to quickly address any unforeseen issues among other benefits.
 Good luck on your renovation project!  With thoughtful planning and a clear path, you will have a smooth experience that will leave you with a home you love.

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