Do You Need a Permit for a Bathroom Remodel?


I’m chomping at the bit to remodel my small downstairs bathroom. And when I get started, believe me, you’ll hear all about it.

But is a bathroom remodel as easy as it sounds? What are the legal requirements, and do I need a permit for a bathroom remodel?

By law, a permit is required to make some of the changes to my home when renovating or remodeling. Which permits I’ll need will depend on the changes that I’m making. Let’s find out what permits you need to remodel your bathroom.

But first, if you want designer hacks that can literally save you thousands of dollars on your bathroom remodel, click the link below to get my cheat sheet.

What Is the Purpose of a Building Permit?

The purpose of a permit for any building project is to ensure that the changes you make to your home are compliant with The International Building Codes (IBC)  and any local zoning and construction regulations.

Regulations ensure that all remodeling and construction work is safe. They protect you, the homeowner, against any unnecessary damage at a later date and protects your investment and safety.

During your remodeling project, a city/county official will inspect the work done at regular intervals to ensure that you’re following all regulations. The official will sign off the work once the job is complete, giving you peace of mind that your remodeling job is completed correctly.

Each state has different requirements depending on the local conditions, so always check with your local zoning office before planning your project.

Do You Need a Permit for a Bathroom Remodel?

Measure Thickness of Bathroom Tiles

While local building regulations differ between states, if you’re remodeling your bathroom, you will generally need a permit if you make structural or plumbing changes.

The permits required will be specific to your local city or county and must comply with local land use laws and the IBC.

To be on the safe side, contact your local zoning office to find out the requirements before you begin.

If you use a contractor to remodel your bathroom, ensure that they apply for and have received a valid permit before starting the renovation. As a DIYer, you can apply for permits, but this can be a lengthy and costly process.

So your best bet is probably to use a registered contractor who is familiar with the local building regulations and who is familiar with the permit process in your local area. As the homeowner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the proper permits are in place.

What are the Different Permit Types for Remodeling your Bathroom?

Before you apply for a permit to remodel your bathroom, check with the local authorities to see which type you might need for your project – you might need more than one, so be sure to do your research.

Permit TypeUsed For
Additional fixturesRelocating bathroom fixtures
Plumbing, electrical and mechanicalInstallation, addition, or moving of fixtures and conduits
Structural changesWalls, doors, windows, floors, public services

 (Source)

Do You Need a Permit to Tile Your Bathroom?

woman chooses between several types of bathroom tile

If you’re completely renovating your bathroom and moving fixtures, then you would need a permit to tile your bathroom.

This is because the placement of new tiles can impact the existing plumbing and electrical wiring conduits and have an effect on waterproofing.

However, if you’re simply changing broken tiles or replacing a section without impacting the plumbing and wiring, go ahead.

When You’ll Need a Permit for a Bathroom Remodel

ProjectPermit required
Changing or converting the original use of a room – from a garage to a bathroom, for instanceYes
The use of a dumpster on a public street during remodelingYes
Modifications to the wastewater plumbing or sewage systemYes
Structural changes to the bathroom, including adding or removing non-load-bearing walls and doorsYes
Structural changes to the roof, including adding windows and skylightsYes
Adding or moving a sinkYes
Adding or moving power outlets and new electrical wiringYes
Adding or moving plumbing, including outdoorsYes
Adding or moving a bathtubYes
Adding new tiles – waterproofing and plumbing requirementsYes
Replacing or upgrading water heaters and HVAC systemsYes
Any remodel over $5,000 USD requires a permitYes

Do You Need a Permit to Replace a Bathroom Vanity?

The easiest changes when upgrading your bathroom are replacing an existing sink and faucet. Often these are a quick swap and don’t involve permits, as there are no changes to the plumbing.

The same applies to vanities and countertops – no permits are required if you are simply replacing them.

A permit would apply if you restructure the bathroom layout and move fittings and fixtures from the original locations to a new one.

Do You Need A Permit To Replace Bathroom Fixtures Like Toilets And Tubs?

What is a tankless toilet?

You do not need a permit to update an old tub or toilet if you’re using existing plumbing. The only exception is if you’re relocating their placement in the bathroom and doing so necessitates changes to existing plumbing or electrical wiring.  

When Don’t I Need a Permit When Remodeling My Bathroom?

Typically, you won’t need a permit for minor alterations. Always check your local laws before you begin. Regulations do differ from state to state, city to city, and county to county.

A permit is not a requirement for the following improvements to your bathroom:

  • Painting, drywall, or wallpaper in the bathroom. A permit is not required as long as plumbing, electrical, and structure rules are observed.
  • Replacing existing fixtures, finishes, and appliances. No permit is necessary if you exchange an existing bathtub, sink, toilet, flooring, or light fitting, without changing the plumbing or electrical wiring.
  • Vanities and countertops. Swapping out your existing vanity or countertop, or extending the existing tops does not require a permit as long as plumbing and electrical rules are followed.

How To Apply for a Bathroom Remodeling Permit

The best way to apply for a bathroom remodeling permit is to find a good contractor familiar with all the local rules and regulations.

He will file all the forms, plans, and required documentation and follow up with the authorities. Be prepared for a long wait, though – some applications could take 2 – 6 months before they are approved.

As the homeowner, you are responsible for the correct permits, so always ensure that they are right.

How Much Does A Bathroom Remodeling Permit Cost?

The cost of a bathroom remodeling permit depends on the job. These are the average costs of a permit to remodel a bathroom:

DescriptionCost
Bathroom Remodel$400 - $750
Building a new room$1 250 - $2 500
Replacing/upgrading the roof$200 - $500
Window/door installation on existing wall$75 - $250

What Are The Labor Costs for a Bathroom Remodel?

The labor costs for a good contractor are over and above the prices of the permit and all the building supplies.

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, anyone doing a bathroom renovation should expect to spend 20% of the total for a bathroom renovation on labor.

Get a free estimate here for your bathroom remodeling permit

What Happens IF I Don’t Get a Permit for Remodeling My Bathroom?

Some homeowners don’t bother following the permit rules when remodeling their bathrooms. If a contractor that you hired for the job advises that you don’t need a permit for a remodeling job, consider hiring a new contractor.

Not obtaining the correct permits can have severe consequences if you are caught:

  • The authorities could insist that you tear down the completed work, apply for the permits, and start again. A costly option.
  • The authorities could force you to obtain a permit and charge more (double or triple) the permitting fees.
  • Selling your home could be a problem if it comes to light that the bathroom was remodeled without the proper permits. This could lower the value of your home, and you might have to apply for outstanding permits to bring the bathroom up to code.
  • Some insurance companies won’t pay for damages to a home if the correct permits are not produced after a damages claim.

So, Do I Really Need a Permit for my Bathroom Remodel?

If you’re making any structural changes to the bathroom that you’re remodeling, then yes, you do need permits. Always check with your local officials before you begin.

Wondering exactly what size bathroom you want for your remodel? We’ve got you covered.

Note: Would you like to save thousands of dollars on your bathroom remodel? If yes, get my Save Big $$$ Cheat Sheet with designer hacks. Simply fill out the form below and I’ll send it straight to your inbox.

Shana

Shana Burg is a bath enthusiast, content strategist, and award-winning writer. She is the founder of bathtubber.com.

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