Contractor Tips on Pulling Permits


Before contractors begin a project, they must pull all the necessary permits. Issued by a government agency, a building permit is an official document that approves construction, alteration to a piece of property, and, in some cases, a remodel project. Building permits are required, as they create uniformity and help maintain building standards for public safety.

Having to halt construction or rebuild a specific part of a structure that was not permitted can result in additional costs and, in some cases, cripple a contractor's business. Contractors can also be fined, lose their licenses, and face civil lawsuits and reputational damage if performing work without a permit.

Let's delve deeper into the type of work that requires permits and look at some tips on getting the necessary permits to do the job.

New Construction

A construction permit is always required when building on previously uninhabited land. Other structures, such as garages and gazebos, require construction permits as do residential homes and apartment buildings.


Sunrooms, garage conversions, extra rooms, and bump-outs are examples of additions that would require construction permits.


This can include re-roofing a home, removing or adding walls, renovating the kitchen or bathroom, and demolishing a section of the house.

Specific Trade Work

This type of work is usually associated with specific trades such as electrical, plumbing, roofing, etc. Conditions caused by an improperly built electrical or plumbing system can quickly turn into fire and public health hazards.

Permit Costs

The permit cost varies by town or city, with some permits based on a flat fee depending on the project type. Permit costs can also be based on construction values such as labor and materials. Some contractors pass along to clients the fee the building department charges to pull the permit, while others charge an hourly rate based on the amount of time spent to obtain the permit. Others bundle the cost of the permit pulls into an "extra fees" category.

Quick Tips for Pulling Permits

To pull a permit, a contractor must contact the building department to inform them of the project to be worked on. The contractor must complete the required applications, provide a list of the materials to be used, and pay the permit fees. The building department will review the application and approve it or request changes. Once the permit certificate is issued, it must be visibly displayed on the construction site. Typically, the building department will perform two inspections to assess the quality of the work.

To make sure you get the permits you need on time and satisfy your clients, following are some tips:

    • Start the process early so you're not rushing around at the last minute and missing items in the permit package.
    • Perform a quality check on the construction plans.
    • Double-check the jurisdiction's website for changes in permitting processes, new operating hours, updated forms, etc.
    • Address any areas of concern in meeting building codes with the building department's permit reviewers.

Pulling permits can be time-consuming, particularly when working on several projects. Building permit services companies exist that can take the process off your hands so you can focus on the work itself. Permit services can help by completing paperwork, tracking fees, tracking/managing inspections, and ensuring necessary permits are pulled. Of course, a fee for this should be built in to your costs.