For many homeowners, a minor setback in attempting a renovation is obtaining permits. It will cost money and is time-consuming – something that most people don’t have. As a result, we tend to sidestep the permit process which can actually lead to fines and penalties. If you’re looking to sell your property after fixing it, you might end up having a hard time instead. Renovating without a permit is not worth the risk. If you put in the time and effort to get the right documents, your dream to breathe new life to your home can become a reality.

Building permits

Detroit will require this for new buildings or alterations to an existing one. You wouldn’t need to get one if you’re planning to do some minor or cosmetic upgrades like painting or changing your kitchen faucet. However, any structural modifications such as adding a square footage or altering other building components would definitely require a permit. This is a requirement if you plan on adding new doorways, windows, adjusting your roofline, or adding new structural elements like load-bearing walls, skylights, decks, balconies and porches. 

On a side note, replacing an existing window or door doesn’t require you to have a permit but cutting a hole in the building to install a new one does.

To get a building permit, you need to present a complete site plan, construction drawings, and cost estimates of your project. It would greatly help if all the said documents was furnished by a licensed architect or a structural engineer.

The fee for the permit would depend on the estimated cost of the project. For example, if the estimate is $2,000 or less, the permit would be $150. For larger projects that are around $2,000-$500,000, the fee would still be $150 plus an additional $20 for every $1,000 over $2,000. This is usually the case for an average homeowner not unless you plan on building your own mansion where the permit fee would reach up to $28,110 for renovating a property that costs over $2,000,000. You can fill out your application form on the city of Detroit’s website here.

Electrical Permits

Any plans to install new circuit or other forms of electrical services to your home will require another permit yet again. This will cover new electrical wiring, electrical maintenance or wire repairs. All major electrical work should always be done by a licensed electrical contractor. 

You are not required to obtain an electrical permit for minor repairs such as replacing lamps, circuit breakers, switches or light fixtures in existing connections. If you plan on adding a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System though, it will be mandatory to have a building permit in addition to the electrical permit to ensure that your are complying with the city code. 

The process starts with filling out an online form from the city’s website. The waiting time for approval may take up to 5-10 business days. Repairs and inspections usually don’t require you to pay a fee but new installations have a base rate of $50.

Plumbing Permits

This will only cover changes to plumbing systems that involve more than the working parts of a faucet, valve or clearance of stoppages. Other than that, a plumbing permit isn’t required. To put it simply, adding new water heaters, bathrooms, sinks, and pipe repairs will require you to have one. 

The process of obtaining a plumbing permit as well as the approval time is basically the same as the electrical permit. Make sure to include copies of the current contractor’s license, master plumber’s license and a $50 payment for the application fee. You can download the permit application here.

Right-of-Way (ROW) Permits

This pertains to the area controlled by public agencies between the street and the property line. Although the area between the sidewalk and the curb is city-owned, it is still maintained by the property owner. If you plan to do work on areas with public right-of-way matters involved, you’re required to obtain this. Some examples would be driveway improvements, sidewalk repairs, installing a mailbox post, or excavation work. 

To obtain the said permit, you need to submit the plans or drawings of the work within the right-of-way and fill out the application form which can be viewed here. The approval time could take up to 3 weeks to completely finish the application. You also need to get a $2,500 Surety Bond for all ROW work.

Regardless of who does the work for you, it is your responsibility as the homeowner to make sure that your property is up to code when you plan to make renovations. This may be a daunting task but here at Accurate Construction Group, we want to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. We have the ability to take care of the necessary permits on all work that requires it. With that in mind, your home may be a couple of permits away from completion and we want to help you achieve that without the hassle.