Obtaining Permits For Home Improvements In Philadelphia

Getting a permit really isn’t that difficult. It is important to remember that because not getting all the permits for your project could cost you BIG time. Knowing what you need is the first step. No city is exactly the same when it comes to renovation requirements, so RenoFi is here to help you make sure you have what your project needs. Here’s a helpful guide to obtaining permits for home improvements in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.

Note that if you’re in the city of Philadelphia, here is the link to the Department of License and Inspections.

To make sure all of your plans are covered, check out your county’s Department of Licensing and Inspection website for more details. It’ll have everything you need to know about real estate licensing, permits and more in your local area.

What Home Improvements Need A Building Permit In Philadelphia?

The rule of thumb here is that if your project involves changes to your home’s original structure, then it will need a permit. This could mean adding square footage, changes in home’s occupancy classification or new installations of mechanical systems or fire suppression. The following are examples of improvements that do not require a permit in Philadelphia.

  • Ordinary home repairs
  • Installation of paneling over existing services
  • Masonry pointing
  • Installation of cabinets or countertops
  • Painting or papering which uses finishes less than 0.036”
  • Replacing exterior steps less than 6’ high
  • Installation of portable units, such as heating appliances or ventilation equipment

To make sure all your plans are covered, check out your county’s Department of Licensing and Inspection website for more details. It’ll have everything you need to know about real estate licensing, permits and more in your local area.

How Do I Get A Building Permit?

Generally, your General Contractor will agree to “pull” the appropriate permits and then you will be responsible for the costs, but you can always file for the permits yourself. In either case, it is vital that you and your contractor make it very clear in your contract who is responsible for what to avoid potential problems or delays.

If you are obtaining the permits yourself, you will have to find and fill out the application for the particular permits your project requires. Again, they can all be found on your county’s Department of Licensing and Inspection website.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Permit in Philadelphia?

Timing is an important thing to consider when planning your renovation project. Permits do take some time to process - approximately 15 days for a single-family residence, while other types of properties may take longer. The sooner you get your applications submitted, the better, so you can focus on smaller home improvements in the meantime and keep your project on track.

What Will A Building Permit Cost in Philadelphia?

To submit an application, there is a fee of $25 for one- and two-family residences. The cost of the permit itself will largely depend on where you are located and the type of work you are doing, but there are other factors too, including:

  • The size and age of your home
  • The complexity of the remodel
  • The value of the completed work
  • Inspection fees
  • Number of permits required

Building permits are not cheap, so it’s important to include these costs into your project budget. Work with your contractor to understand which permits you will need based on your plans to help you determine the additional costs you will need to consider. In many cases these permits are covered by your contractor and built into the pricing, but sometimes the homeowner bears this responsibility.

What Happens if I Renovate without a Permit?

Building without a permit has a multitude of costly consequences. To start, your insurance will most likely not cover any damages to non-permitted work. The city may also issue some serious fines for a direct violation of city codes and regulations. Even further, you may actually be required to take down the completed renovations and return your home to its original state.

Even if you safely avoid any issues in the short term, you could still see the ramifications once it’s time to sell. Most lenders will not loan money for the portion of the home that has been improved without a permit, complicating the loan approval process and compromising the sale. Likewise, few buyers will be willing to take over a property that’s been remodeled without the proper permits. They’re not looking to deal with the consequences any more than you are.

Applying For A Home Renovation Loan Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult Either.

From obtaining permits, choosing contractors, and securing the right financing for your renovations, the more you know, the smoother the renovation process will be. That’s why we’re here. Contact RenoFi to be a helpful resource for every important decision, every step of the way.

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