BATHROOM REMODEL PERMITS: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW





Different municipalities require different permits for various renovations around the house. Bathroom remodeling is no different!

However, permits for bathroom remodeling can be a confusing ordeal. Some are specific to the municipality, so keep in mind that there may be other permits needed depending on where you live – but this article will discuss what permits are generally necessary for various kinds of bathroom renovations.

As a general rule, before you start tearing out the old and installing new fixtures, it’s always best to check with your city’s building department which specific permits they require for remodels within your area.

What is a bathroom remodeling permit

A building or construction permit is an official authorization to engage in an activity that will result in a structural change to existing property; an alteration such as adding or removing fixtures, or the construction of a new space such as installing a basement bathroom.

All permits regulate safety and aim at ensuring all types of construction are compatible with zoning requirements.

Depending on the type and extent of remodeling you want to undertake, your municipality may require you to get a permit for structural change or one for alterations or additions.

Generally, permits required for remodeling are fewer and less expensive compared to those needed for new constructions.

Permit Typically Required Permit Could be Required Permit Not Required
Electrical Altering permanent electrical wiring such as installing new circuits and wiring Replacing circuit breakers or fuse boxes Maintenance and replacement of existing electrical installations
Plumbing Installing, changing, or removing plumbing lines such as installing a new toilet or bathtub or changing its location Replacing plumbing fixtures Replacing faucets
Openings Cutting out a hole for a new window, door, or skylight Replacing an existing door or window Routine maintenance of doors, windows and skylights
HVAC Adding or replacing HVAC equipment Maintenance of HVAC equipment -
Walls Stripping wall tiles, moving walls Soundproofing Painting, repainting, or wallpapering
Flooring Replacing existing floors - Carpeting or fixing hardwood flooring
Water Heater Installing or replacing a water heater Maintenance of water heating system -

How to tell which permits you’ll need for bathroom remodeling


Knowing which permits you will need or those you can do without can be a confusing process, especially if it’s your first bathroom renovation project.

We’ve made it simpler for you by compiling all the data into the following easy-to-understand table so you know which permits are generally needed for various aspects of bathroom renovation.

We’ve categorized the permits into three: those typically required by most states, those that may or may not be required by states, and those not generally required. Again, it is best to check with your area’s construction authority for confirmation.

Why you need a permit for a bathroom remodel


Permits for remodeling help homeowners maintain a legal right. They give the homeowner an opportunity to ensure their property is up to code and that work is done in the correct way in line with state and county standards. Without permits, the city might consider your remodeling as illegal construction.

But permits are not only an avenue for the city to collect funds, they are also critical to your safety. They guarantee the use of only fixtures and practices that are up to par with standards set by the building department.

These permits are necessary to ensure safety for you, your family, and others in your area.

Types of permits needed for a bathroom remodeling project


Here are the common types of permits that you will generally need for a bathroom remodel, depending on the scope of the project:

(a) Structural changes permit

Building permits are required when there is a structural change, such as adding or replacing windows or doors or changing from a standard bathtub to a shower stall with no door.

You’ll also need a structural change permit if your remodeling involves altering exterior cladding on your house around the bathroom area or if its construction date precedes that locality’s residential building code by more than a century.

(b) Electrical, mechanical, and plumbing service permits

Electrical, mechanical, and plumbing service permits and inspections might be necessary if you are upgrading or installing electrical systems throughout your space.

This includes things like running new rewiring through walls and ceilings, running wires for lights and switches along joists in an attic floor, and installing junction boxes.

You’ll also need the permit if you’re disrupting the existing plumbing such as installing a new bathtub or toilet.

(c) Permit for the addition of fixtures

Permits for fixtures may also be required if you’re replacing any fixture that is not a toilet with something else – like sinks or bathtubs.

Most building departments will require that you get one or all of these permits before getting started on your bathroom remodel. Again these permits vary depending on where you live so it’s best to check before starting!

Permits also vary in price depending on what you’re doing – so be sure to check with your city beforehand!

Cost of permits for bathroom remodeling


The cost of remodeling permits varies from city to city. Some agencies base the fees on a percentage of the total cost of remodeling while others have a flat rate for individual aspects such as adding or removing fixtures.

According to Home Advisor, the national average of building permits is $1,330. However, this figure includes all types of construction permits. For the most part, remodeling permits are inexpensive, with some municipalities charging as low as 1% of the construction costs.

A survey of remodeling permit costs across different states revealed that homeowners pay anywhere from $75 to $1,800. The lower ranges are mostly for light renovations such as installing fixtures while the higher ranges involve bigger structural changes.

Things you should know about getting remodeling permits


You might think that submitting the forms means you’re ready to start work, but building legislation can make this impossible. It’s critical to get authorization before starting a project!

It is a common misconception that submitting the forms means you’re free to begin work. However, the agency may reject your proposal or ask for alterations. This is why you should only start working once they give their authorization.

Though it may seem like a lot of work, getting the right permit before you start your next project can be worth its weight in gold.

Your contractor should help make this process as simple as possible–talk to them about what they need from you, or if anything needs changing with how things have been going so far!

It’s important not only to get estimates for any projects beforehand (which also saves money!) but also to determine all of the necessary paperwork required by local governing agencies.

Do this BEFORE starting any new construction jobs-especially those that will inevitably cause some sort of deviation in the building’s footprint.

How to acquire permits for remodeling


The process of acquiring a permit for bathroom remodeling will depend largely on what type of renovation you want to do: do-it-yourself (DIY) or with professional help.

If a contractor does the bathroom remodel, they will likely take care of the permitting process (but always double-check!). However, if you choose to do all the remodeling yourself here are the steps you should take to get and use a permit:

  1. Contact your city or municipality, or check their website to find out everything you need to do and have before starting your bathroom remodeling project. You’ll learn whether you need a permit as well as the type and number of permits needed for your project.

  2. Fill out all the necessary paperwork and submit all required documentation.

    Thankfully, most agencies have provisions for online submissions.

  3. Submit the permit application and pay the required fees.Pricing varies between states and fees typically depend on the scope of the remodel.

  4. Wait for permit issuance. The waiting period will generally depend on the scope of work involved in the remodeling. For instance, we’ve received permits on the same day for simple renovations like changing circuit breakers but had to wait weeks before receiving a permit to add a bathroom in our basement.

  5. Stick the permit face-up close to where you’re working such as on a door or window.

  6. A “rough-in” inspection by a city inspector in the course of the remodeling. You or the agency may call to schedule the inspection.


    The inspector may recommend whatever changes they deem necessary to ensure your project is up to code. You’ll have to make all the changes and call back for reinspection, there’s really no two ways about it.

  7. Final inspection. Upon completion of the remodeling, the inspector will do a final inspection. If your project meets the city’s requirements, the inspector will approve the works, signaling the end of the project.


    In the unfortunate event that you don’t get the nod, the inspector will make recommendations and you’ll need to request reinspection once you’ve implemented the recommendations.

  8. Remove the displayed permit(s) and enjoy your refurbished bathroom.

FAQs about Permits for Bathroom Remodeling

Q. What happens if you don’t have a permit for your remodeling?

A. Remodeling without a permit could cost you if you ever want to sell your house in the future. Doing unpermitted remodeling can cause the bank to call your mortgage, making any balance due immediately.

Additionally, you run the risk of tax penalties and/or fines for carrying out unpermitted adjustments.

Q. Do construction or building permits expire?

A. Yes! Building permits do expire. In most states, permits expire after 6 months from the issuance date. This means that work must begin within 6 months, otherwise, you’ll need to submit a fresh application.

Q. Do I need an inspection after remodeling my bathroom?

A. Depending on the type of renovation undertaken, the building department of your locality may require two inspections: one “rough-in” inspection in the course of the remodeling and another one at the end of the project.

With the first inspection, you are expected to provide feedback on whether or not all necessary steps have been taken.

This inspection is quite beneficial to the homeowner as you’ll be able to confirm that everything is in place and nothing has gone wrong so far with the workflow.

With this knowledge, it will make for a smoother final inspection later down the line when you go over things like the fitment of materials which can add an extra few hours onto construction time if they’re done improperly.

The second and final inspection occurs at the end of the remodeling project where the inspector will certify that all requirements are fulfilled before signing off.

Q. Are permits issued at the federal, state, or local level?

A. There are no set nationwide standards as the federal government doesn’t have a mandate over regional building codes. This is why permits differ from region to region. Some building permits, including those for a bathroom remodel, are done on the state level and not at local levels.

This often makes it difficult for an average Joe or Jane homeowner trying to get permits for their project because they may have to get permits from the city, county, and state.

Q. How long will it take before receiving permits after submitting an application?

A. It generally takes a day or two to submit an application, but permits may take up to six weeks or even longer to issue depending on the permit’s office and the scope of the renovations.

Q. Which permits do I need if I have a septic system?

A. If you have a septic system, permits may be needed from the Department of Health and Environment for installation, replacement, or repair work.

Other requirements for septic tank permits include soil evaluation and in some states, a soil erosion permit and a land-use permit may also be required.

Final Thoughts

If you’re thinking about remodeling your bathroom, there are a number of permits and considerations to take into account.

Whether you want to make changes that will increase the size of your home or just update the look and feel with new tiles, this post can help guide you through the process in order to avoid any major pitfalls.

We’ve covered everything from what type of permit is required for bathrooms (HINT: it depends on where they’re located) all the way down to how much time it takes to get the permit.

So whether you need more information before making an appointment with a contractor or simply want to brush up on existing knowledge, we hope these tips have been helpful!

Don’t let a lack of permits stand in the way of your dream bathroom!