Do You Need Permit for Bathroom Remodel? (Explained)

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The idea of remodeling your bathroom sounds exciting as you might be having great ideas for what you want to do. But If you are a house owner, you should be aware of all legal parameters to avoid further consequences.

Usually, people have a question in mind whether they need a permit to remodel their bathroom? The short answer is it depends from city to city.

There is no such state/federal standards when it comes to home remodeling permit. However, If your bathroom project involves any changes to electrical lines or includes major plumbing activities, it requires a permit.

According to a survey conducted by OneWeekBath, from 62 surveyed cities and counties, each of them needed a permit even if someone wanted to replace a faucet, light, or outlet.

All cities have their protocols for obtaining a permit so that they can ensure the minimum construction standards for safety, water economy, and energy code.

This article will address some of the common questions related to bathroom remodeling permits, including:

  • How to Check Your City’s Residential Permit Rules?
  • Why Remodeling Your Bathroom requires a Permit?
  • Consequences of Getting Caught without Permit
  • Which types of bathroom projects will/maybe require a permit?
  • How much does bathroom remodel permit cost?

Do You Need Permit for Bathroom Remodel? [Answered]

Permits are required for remodeling a bathroom when the project involves electrical work, plumbing work, or structural changes. The main purpose of getting a permit is to ensure safety, energy code, and water economy. Also, a permit secures that you’re within the legal parameters when the inspection team comes knocking.

Why Remodeling Bathroom Requires Permit?

Most cities require a permit to ensure the work is being done under legal parameters. These legal parameters generally include minimum construction standards, water economy, and energy codes.

Besides, your city is responsible to ensure that the contractor does a good job. That is why the inspection team visit to inspect whether things are done based on prescribed parameters.

Suppose you didn’t get a permit and your contractor came and installed a new faucet. But the faucet started leaking because it wasn’t inspected to check whether the construction meets current codes and standards. Now, what will happen?

Your contractor might try to get away with it, or you’ll have more expenses to get it fixed. Whatever the consequences are, the loss is yours. Therefore, a permit secures an inspection team to inspect the construction standards and codes before things are finalized.

What will be the role of the inspection team? They’re going to look at whether the electrical wiring is proper so that no one gets hurt. Also, checks minimum construction standards/codes. They check other elements, including the safe placement of shower glass above the bathtub, safe spacing of outlet from the tub, etc.

Consequences of Getting Caught without Permit

Remember, remodeling permits exist for a reason. When planning your bathroom remodeling project, the permitting authority must review your plans by sending you an inspection team. They ensure safety during the construction works and review everything.

Constructors will offer more agile and cheaper works by asking you not to pull any permits (unskilled constructors usually ask). Or it could be you who is planning to DIY without any permits. If caught, how bad it can get; in the end, it’s your house?

Well, as said earlier, a permit exists for a reason. If you’re going to take it for granted, be ready to face some of the future consequences listed below:


Unpermitted works come with safety risks. If your bathroom or kitchen needs major electrical works, the contractor has to access the walls behind, which is risky if done unprofessionally. Or unprofessional plumbing works can lead to safety risks to your family.

Decrease in Resale Value

Not having proper permits will create trouble during selling your home. Usually, buyers ask to show permits if there is remodeling done. If caught without permits, buyers feel unsafe buying the house.

City Penalties

Your city can charge fine you when they find out about unpermitted remodeling around your home. This can happen if someone reports you. These fines can be dreadful as they aren’t cheap. For example, the Seattle government charges $500/day, if build without permits.

For More Information | What Happens if You Get Caught Remodeling without a Permit?

Let’s find out, how can you check your city’s permit rules.

How to Check City’s Residential Permit Rules?

By proving you a permission slip, the local government grants you (homeowner) or the contractor to continue with your bathroom remodeling project. It ensures your home is safe for future buyers.

Generally, if you’ve hired a contractor, they handle the permitting process by applying it in their name. But if you’re going to DIY, then follow this procedure when applying for a permit:

Step 1: Browse City’s Government Website

Browse your city’s government website to check whether your project needs a permit. The documents can also be found under “permitting, license, and inspections” offices.

Also, Local governments are allowing applicants to file their permits online. It’s better to visit the office to make the office in charge understand your project’s complexity.

Step 2: Pay & File Permit

Pay the fee and file the permit. Your approval and fees will depend on the complexity of the project. Once approved, you’ll get tell-tale bright orange permits to attach to your window while the project is underway.

Step 3: Assigning of Project Inspector

After that, you will be assigned a project inspector. Your project inspector will keep an eye on the progress of the work before it’s completed.

Step 4: Completion of Project

Finally, when the project is completed, your project inspector will ensure whether the work is completed following the minimum construction standards. If everything seems perfect, it will get approved and you’re ready to go.

See Also: DIY vs Contractor Bathroom Remodel (Recommended)

Bathroom Projects that MOSTLY Require Permits

There are a few bathroom projects that mostly require permits. Here are the followings:

  • Adding a sink, or replacing existing one.
  • Any major plumbing or sewage project.
  • Structural woks that changes the footprint of your bathroom. For example, moving an existing shower wall.
  • Installing exhaust fan, furnace or air conditioner
  • Adding or Replacing a water heater.
  • Projects that require parking a dumpster on a public street.
  • Installing tiles on floors or wall.
  • Adding exterior doors, windows and skylights that require a new opening.
  • Replacing bathtub, toilet seat, etc.

Bathroom Projects that MAY Require Permits

Some projects may or may not require a permit. Here are the followings:

  • Demolishing a wall (non loaded-bearing)
  • If project costs above certain amount, like $5000.
  • Changes to ventilation system.

How Much Does Bathroom Remodel Permit Cost? (Estimate)

According to HomeGuide, the average cost of remodeling your bathroom can cost between $200 to $800. An additional permit cost may be required if the project involves any structural changes like adding or altering walls.

Note, this is just an estimation. The final price varies from city to city based on the project’s complexity. Some cities don’t require permits if your project’s cost is lower than $1000 or minor plumbing activities like replacing a bathroom fixture.


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