When building a home, or even for some renovation and home addition projects, you will likely need to obtain a building permit. What are the legalities behind a permit and when is a permit needed?

We break down a few things you should know before embarking on the home building process.

Talk to the permit office

Your local permitting office makes sure that all projects are done safely and do not pose a risk to anyone in the surrounding area. They will not hold you accountable for any outlandish suggestions or questions.

You can call and ask to speak to an inspector anonymously, and they will answer your questions without scrutiny.

Permit pricing

Depending on your project, the price for a building permit will vary. The range you will likely see for a building permit, according to Home Advisor, is between $385 and  $1,893. Which makes the national average about $1,128.

Permit costs tend to be based upon a percentage of the cost for the project. However, most contractors will include the permit cost in your pricing package.


An easement is a legal restriction such as a sewer main, power line, sidewalk, or other obstacle that encroaches on your property. An easement can also be a portion of your property that is reserved for a potential future project such as a new road.

If there is an easement on file, you cannot build upon that designated space. Your county assessor’s website will be able to show you the plat for your property and any easements surrounding it.


A variance is an accommodation to a zoning ordinance that must be officially approved. Most variances are requested when the homeowner decides to build a larger home than the zoning for their lot allows.

If there are nearby neighbors surrounding the homeowner’s lot, their opinion will be critical to the approval of the variance.

Inspections are mandatory

Not only are permits not allowed to be granted until an inspection is done, you can also expect to have a second inspection completed after the building process is finalized as well.

These inspections are no different from ones that would be completed on an existing home. Your only worry should be if you hired a trusted and licensed contractor. If you have done your research and chose the best team for the job, you will pass your inspection with flying colors.