A city permit is insurance that everything has been checked over and meets codes for safety. And it’s pretty easy to get a permit for a small DIY job. Take a trip to city hall and bring your plans with you, and if your project is simple, someone will look at them on the spot and schedule a visit from an inspector. In most cities, you can even do this part online
A city building inspector will look at your plans for altering or adding to your house and advise you if your project doesn’t live up to city codes for safety and soundness. The inspector will visit your home before, during or after you’ve done the work—the bigger the job, the more visits you’ll get—to ensure that the products you’re using are rated for fire safety, that any work involving electricity or gas complies with regulations, and that you’re not creating a safety or structural problem in your house by removing a load-bearing wall or adding a room that will leave too little space between your house and the one next door, for example.
For larger projects, it might take a couple of days for someone to study your plans and approve your permit, and you might have to schedule more than one inspection.
You don’t need a permit for simple jobs like painting, changing your kitchen countertops or replacing a toilet or sink with the same item in the same place.
It’s an extra layer that can add a little bit of time to your project. Still, city inspectors are sensitive to the fact that you probably want to get to work on your project without any delays.