Building Permits Cost

In this guide

Building permit vs. planning permit
Types of building permits
If you don't file a permit
Permit services
Enhancements
Additional Considerations

How much does it cost to get building permits?

Building permits, or construction permits, are necessary documents you obtain from your city or town prior to starting work on your home. Building codes in most areas dictate that a permit must be obtained prior to new construction, alterations or additions to existing structures, as well as changes in occupancy, electrical and plumbing work, demolition of an existing structure, or the installation of fire suppression systems. Every area has its own list of what types of permits are required, as well as their own costs.

Permit costs can vary depending not only on your area, but also on the size of the project, the type of project, and the scope of work being done. Most people pay around $0.79 a square foot for new construction, so a new, 1700 sq.ft. home will require a permit fee of approximately $510. Additions and repairs are calculated based on the size and type of the job, and cost between $200 and $500 on average.

Building permit vs. planning permit

In some areas you may be required to obtain a planning permit in addition to a building permit. Planning permits give you permission for certain land use and development, and must be obtained prior to submitting plans for the use of that land. A building permit is required after obtaining the planning permit and gives you the permission necessary to carry out the planned construction.

Planning permits typically cost around $30, but are not necessary for additions or changes to existing structures or homes, only new structures on certain areas of land.

Types of building permits

Every town or city will have their own list of required building permits. A general list of permit types may include:

Permit TypeCost
New Construction$0.79 per square foot planned
New Green Construction$0.59 per square foot planned
Alterations and Repairs$200 to $500 depending on scope of job
Demolition$200
Occupation$33
Swimming Pool$260

Steps required to obtain a permit

In many cases, homeowners may prefer to have their contractor or architect file the necessary paperwork to obtain a permit on their behalf. However, anyone may obtain a permit providing them follow the correct protocol.

In most areas, to obtain a permit you must:

  • Pay a visit to your town or city hall to get a list of necessary permits required for the planned job.
  • Submit a set of plans for the proposed work which includes the total cost of the work, materials being used, size and scope of the project, electrical and plumbing layouts if applicable, and a proposed start and end date.
  • Fill out any necessary paperwork required by the town when submitting the plans
  • Pay the required fee.

The work must now be completed by the time set out on the permit. If necessary, extensions can be obtained, usually at a rate of around $30 for each extension. After the work is completed, an inspection of the work will take place to ensure it meets proper building codes. In some areas, there is an additional $7 fee for the inspection. If the structure passes the inspection, the permit is closed.

If you don't file a permit

In most areas, permits are required for work to ensure that the building or structure meets proper code. If no permit is filed, and the work is reported to the town or city, a fine may be leveled at the owner, the contractor, or both. This fine may be in excess of $500, depending on the location and the scope of the work.

Even if the work is not reported to the town or city hall, it can be difficult to sell a property if work has been done with no permit or inspection attached. Some banks will not fund a mortgage for a home without proper paperwork, while some insurance companies will not insure either the house or the mortgage. In this case, additional fees and penalties will be necessary to obtain the needed inspections to sell the home. This can cost $1,000 or more depending on the number of inspections required.

Permit services

In some areas and for large jobs that require more than one permit, hiring a permit service can help save time. Permit service companies file the permit on your behalf. The benefits of this include saved time; the service will send you the permit number often same day and you can file it with them over the internet, as well as potential savings in costs. Because the permit service will know exactly what permits you require, you won’t have to worry about filing for additional permits that may not be necessary for your job, which can save you money.

Some towns or cities offer permit services online for no additional charge beyond the cost of the permit. In other areas, a separate company deals with the permit process for you at an additional fee of around $60 per hour. In most cases, only one hour is usually sufficient to get the work done. In some cases, however, if you are unsure of what permits are required for your job, the permit service office will search for this information for you, helping you get all the necessary paperwork. This may take three to four hours at a total cost of $180 to $240.

Enhancement and improvement costs

  • If you are using an architect, build firm, or contractor to do the work on your home, these professionals will usually file the permit for you. Because they understand exactly what permits are necessary, they can save you time and help expedite the process. Occasionally, there is no extra cost for this, but in most cases architects and other professionals will use a permit service to get the job done and will pass on fee to you, which may run as high as 40 - 45% of the building budget.

Additional considerations and costs

  • By law, a natural disaster occurring does not change the need for a building permit before you can begin repairs on your home. In some areas, damage due to things like flooding may require additional permits if your town assesses the damage on a widespread scale. To find out more, you will need to contact your town or city following a disaster, or await instructions from your town prior to rebuilding.
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Cost to get building permits varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Athens, GA
-9%
Austin, TX
+13%
Carrabelle, FL
-34%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fremont, CA
+35%
Hayward, CA
+31%
Laredo, TX
-31%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Martinez, CA
+30%
Odessa, TX
-5%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Ramsey, NJ
+27%
Reno, NV
0%
Salinas, CA
+1%
San Jose, CA
+33%
San Marcos, CA
+8%
Spring, TX
+24%

Labor cost in your zip code

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Methodology and sources