Decks are an excellent addition to any home, adding both value and extra living space. But before you begin construction, you might be wondering if you need a permit to build a deck.

The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the size and location of your deck, as well as whether or not it will be attached to your house. In most cases, you will need a permit to build a deck. However, there are some circumstances in which you may not need one.

If you’re planning on building a deck, the best thing to do is check with your local building department to find out what the requirements are in your area. They can tell you whether or not you need a permit, and if so, what the requirements are for obtaining one.

In general, decks that are less than 200 square feet and are not attached to a house do not require a permit. However, it’s always best to check with your local building department to be sure.

Why Is a Permit Needed?

Some people might believe that installing a deck is like any other DIY house renovation job, most of which do not need a license or permit. Because of their size and construction demands, however, most decks require a permit.

A permit will guarantee that you follow local rules. Building without a valid license might result in penalties or the inability to sell your home due to an illegal addition.

A construction permit also protects you from building a dangerous deck. It will prevent people from being hurt or damaging your home’s foundation, and everyone on top safe.

Related: Cheap, Quick, And Easy Alternatives To Decking

Any Exemptions For These Permits?

There maybe exception to these permits based on regional laws and homeowner’s assocation bylaws. As I mentioned earlier, contacting your local building department is the best way to determine if you need a permit for your deck.

For example, you might not need a permit if your deck:

  • Is not attached to your house.
  • Is less than 200 square feet.
  • Is made of pressure-treated wood.
  • Is not your home’s main exit door.
  • Will not be used for recreational purposes (i.e., not as a living space).

However, even if your deck meets one or more of these criteria, you might still need a permit. It all depends on the laws and regulations in your area.

It’s always best to err on the side of caution and get a permit before beginning construction on your deck. That way, you can avoid any potential problems down the road.

Related: Super Simple Ways How To Dispose Of Old Deck Wood

How To Get A Permit To Build A Deck

Depending on where you live, the application process will vary. In most cases, you can apply for a permit online, in person, or over the phone.

To apply for a permit, you’ll need to submit a few documents, including:

  • A completed application form.
  • A site plan of your property.
  • Construction plans for your deck.

If you’re hiring a contractor to build your deck, you’ll also need to submit a copy of their license.

Once you’ve submitted your application and supporting documents, the building department will review them to make sure everything is in order. If everything looks good, they’ll issue you a permit.

If you’re planning on doing the work yourself, you might be required to attend a deck-building seminar before a permit will be issued. This is to ensure that you understand all the safety requirements and know how to properly construct your deck.

Related: When Should I Use Pressure-Treated Lumber?

A Couple of Copies of your Construction Plans

You might be asked to submit two copies of your construction plans when you apply for a permit.

One copy will be kept on file by the building department, and the other will be sent to the planning department for review.

The planning department will make sure that your deck meets all the requirements of the zoning regulations in your area.

They’ll also make sure that it doesn’t violate any setback rules or obstruct any easements on your property.

Once the planning department has reviewed your plans and approved them, they’ll send the plans back to the building department. The building department will then issue you a permit.

Now that you know what’s required to get a permit to build a deck, it’s time to start planning your project.

Just remember to take the time to pull the necessary permits, and you’ll be on your way to enjoying your new deck in no time.

The construction plans should include information like: 

  • The sizes, separations, and locations of the joists, beams, and frost foundations
  • Descriptions of how you’ll install the steps, guard rails, and so on.
  • The types of fasteners and hardware you’ll use.
  • The materials you’re likely to use.

A Site Plan

You’ll also need to submit a site plan. Start by looking for your house’s professional property survey, which will be available after the 1980s. If your home was built after the 1980s, you should find this document in its closing papers.

If you can’t find this document, you can ask your Building Department for a copy, or you can have a new survey done.

The inspector must ensure that your deck will be at least a specific distance from property lines.

This confirms that you:

  • Comply with safety and building codes. If your deck catches fire, it must be far enough away from other properties to avoid causing a wildfire.
  • Comply with planning and zoning rules/HOA standards. For aesthetic reasons, some communities demand a specific amount of distance between houses.

What Happens if I Don’t Get a Permit?

If you don’t obtain a permit when required, you may be held responsible for more than just fines. For example, an incorrectly built deck might be hazardous. Walking on it might result in harm owing to an unstable foundation or poor construction materials.

The lack of a permit might result in various legal problems. The city may:

  • Issue you a hefty fine.
  • Ask you to completely disable the deck until you the appropriate approval.
  • Prevent you from placing your house on the market and selling it.

Can’t My Contractor Sort All of This Out?

Of course. However, don’t forget, your contractor will face all of the same hoops as you. They will need to submit plans and obtain approval from the Building Department before they can start construction.

This process is in place for a reason: to protect you, your family, and your property. By ensuring that all decks are built to the same high standards, we can avoid accidents and keep our communities safe.

Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So, when in doubt, just get a permit.

FAQs

What size deck can I build without a permit?

As long as your deck is less than 200 square feet, you won’t need a permit.

Do I need a permit to build a pergola?

If your pergola is on the front of your property, you’ll need planning permission. You will require planning permission for your pergola if it is in a conservation area, sandwiched between the house and the boundary wall on the side of your home.

Do I need an additional permit for a floating deck railing?

No, you won’t need an additional permit for a floating deck railing.

Related: Floating Deck Block Footings

Do I need a permit to build stairs leading up to my second-story deck?

Yes, you will need a permit to build stairs leading up to your second-story deck. If your new decking covers more than half of your garden or is placed more than 30cm off the ground, it may need planning permission.

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