Getting a permit proves that changes on your property follow the City of Austin’s rules or are “up to code.” Building permits guarantee that any changes you make are safe for you, guests, and neighbors. Before you start building your shed or apply for permits, it’s important to:
- define and describe your project,
- find out if you need permits and what they are,
- and collect the right information for your consultation and application.
You can start by making sure your definition of your project is the same as the City of Austin’s definition.
What is an interior remodel?
An interior remodel fixes or updates the appearance or use of an existing home without adding or removing square footage.
Do I need a permit?
The City of Austin provides a variety of permits to help residents build safe and sustainable projects. Many projects require more than one type of permit.
Your project will need specific permits depending on what you want to do. You may also need to apply for a trade permit if you will change or install electric, plumbing, or HVAC.
You may be able to simplify your project plan so that you don’t need a permit. You can change your project plan before you apply as long as it still meets the requirements for a simpler permit.
How much do building permits cost?
The cost for permitting an interior remodeling project starts at $200 and goes up depending on your project’s specific needs. This includes the plan review, the permit itself, your inspections, and fees.
There are additional fees if you are building near a tree, need a trade permit, or if your home is in a historic neighborhood. Your reviewer can explain the costs during your consultation.
Small changes, like converting a bathtub to shower or vice-versa, that don’t require moving plumbing fixtures in your home are eligible for express permits. Applying for an express permit will help make sure it’s done safely. Figure out if your project qualifies for an express permit.
Interior remodel permits
With the exception of changing doors and windows, an interior remodel only affects the inside of your home. You will need to apply for an interior remodel permit if your project includes at least one of the following:
- moving electric or plumbing fixture locations,
- moving an interior wall,
- changing an exterior wall, such as adding a window or door, or changing the size of a window.
Examples of projects that qualify for an interior remodel permit include:
- kitchen remodels,
- bathroom remodels,
- temoving more drywall than what surrounds the bathtub or shower in bathrooms,
- or adding a window or door where one did not originally exist.
Your interior remodel may need a demolition permit, especially if you will move or change an exterior wall, or change a window’s shape. Extra considerations are taken if you make a change to your home’s load-bearing walls or supports.
New addition permits
While you may think your project is a remodel, the City of Austin may consider it as a new addition.
A new addition permit is required if you change your home’s footprint by expanding a room, or if you convert a garage into a living or sleeping space. Other examples include:
- adding square footage to your home (air conditioned or un air conditioned),
- converting inhabitable space into habitable space,
- or moving an exterior wall.
You may need a demolition permit if you tear down an exterior wall.
If this sounds like your project, schedule a consultation to review any zoning considerations that will affect your project.
Trade permits are required if your project includes changes to electrical wiring, plumbing, or heating and cooling. Trade permits are needed for this type of specialized work and can only be obtained by licensed contractors.
You will need a trade permit if your project includes:
- adding or moving an electrical outlet or fixture,
- installing HVAC,
- moving or adding a plumbing utility,
- or installing a new hot water heater.
Your contractor is responsible for getting the required permits if you install or replace your hot water heater. Although contractors are required to get permits for their work, it is up to you to make sure those permits are obtained.
Having certain trees on your property may require a tree permit.
You will need to have your project reviewed by a city arborist if you have any trees over 19 inches in diameter on you property. Even though there aren’t any trees inside your home, arborists make sure the tree’s Critical Root Zone isn’t damaged by any construction equipment brought in to remodel your home. Learn more about protected trees and their construction requirements.
Make sure you can get a permit
You may not be able to get a new permit right away if your property currently has an expired permit. Use the public search at Austin Build + Connect to check for expired permits.
You may also be unable to get a permit if you have already reached the maximum amount of impervious cover on your property. If this happens, reconsider your shed materials and design or come in for a consultation to find out if you can get a permit.
You may need a consultation to determine your project requirements
It is possible to prepare your permit application without consulting with a reviewer. However, many residents prefer to come in for a free 20 minute consultation with a reviewer before applying for a permit. During this consultation, the reviewer will:
- let you know if you can complete your project as you originally planned,
- give you the personalized property information you need to fill out your building permit application,
- give you a list of documents you need to prepare for your building permit application based on your specific project,
- and explain any next steps needed for you to correctly permit your project.
Hiring a professional
You may need to hire a licensed professional to help you complete your project.
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