Permits are required on most construction jobs. NJ Law states:
(a) It shall be unlawful to construct, enlarge, alter or demolish a structure, or change the occupancy of a building or structure requiring greater strength, exit way or sanitary provisions, or to change a different use group, or to install or alter any equipment for which provision is made or the installation of which is regulated by this chapter, or to undertake a project involving lead abatement in accordance with 5:17, without first filing an application with the construction official or the appropriate sub code official where the construction involves only one trade or in writing and obtaining the required permit therefor.
You do not need a permit to do basic repair work as long as you are not changing the structure of the home. Minor work that is less than a 25% change doesn’t require a permit. New window installation where you are removing and replacing with the same size is ok. Removing and cutting a bigger hole for a new window is not allowed without a permit. Adding electrical outlet for a new dryer or air conditioner is ok with no permit. More than 5 light fixtures need a permit. Replacing a toilet does not. Moving a toilet does. Repairing the roof does not but re-shingling the entire roof does.
When in doubt call the town building department and ask them. Don’t try to downplay what you want to do to try and “get away” with not getting a permit. Permits are our friend. The inspectors that come with permits make sure the house won’t fall down on you or electrocute you. You just need to figure them into the cost of almost all projects.
Gone are the days when your contractor could do a rough drawing on a scrap of wood and submit them to the town. The official NJ word is:
NJAC 5:23 – 2.15(e)vii
vii. Architect’s or engineer’s seal: The seal and signature of the registered architect or licensed engineer who prepared the plans shall be affixed to each sheet of each copy of the plans submitted and on the first or title sheet of the specifications and any additional supportive information submitted. The construction official shall waive the requirement for sealed plans in the case of a single-family home owner who had prepared his own plans for the construction, alteration or repair of a structure used or intended to be used exclusively as his private residence, and to be constructed by himself, providing that the owner shall submit an affidavit attesting to the fact that he has prepared the plans and provided further that said plans are in the opinion of the construction official, and appropriate subcode official, legible and complete for purposes of ensuing compliance with the regulations.
Official blueprints are best for everyone since they spell out EXACTLY what is to be done on the home. Permits require inspections which confirm that the work is done according to the plans. This is a check and balance system that makes for happy owner and happy contractor.
I tried to write a concise statement about permit pricing but it is way too complicated to condense so here’s a link to the NJ worksheet
But they are as necessary part of every construction project.Their costs are just part of the project and should not be see as something to avoid or complain about.
Remember permits are our friends.