How Much Does a Building Permit Cost?

Gemma Johnstone
Written by Gemma Johnstone
Updated January 7, 2022
Two builders taking measurements in construction site
Photo: Peter Cade / Stone / Getty Images

The typical cost for a building permit ranges from $424 to $2,291, with the national average being $1,330

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Applying for a permit may seem like a bureaucratic hassle when you’re already managing complex renovations. But, despite it being another cost to add to a project that may already be over budget, it isn’t something you should neglect. Not all renovation work needs a permit. For those that do, permits are there to ensure that the work done is safe, legal, and appropriate. 

Permits can vary considerably in price, depending on where you live and which type you need for your project. For simple plumbing or rewiring permits, you may only pay around $150, and for large, complex projects that require multiple permits, you could end up paying over $6,000. Learn more about how much a building permit could cost for your home renovations here.

How Much Does a Building Permit Cost Per Type?

There are many types of permits, and you may need to apply for more than one depending on the project you’re undertaking. Be aware that the average prices outlined in the examples below are a useful guide, but every local authority has its own pricing structure. Always do further research to get accurate fees for populating your project budget spreadsheets. Your contractor may be able to help you, or you can visit your local council website or call their office.

Average costs for 11 types of building permits, with construction ranging from $250 to $2,000

Construction Permit Costs

For major renovations or a new home construction project, you’ll need a main building permit. This includes things like removing or building interior walls and property extensions. So if you’re changing the size or layout of your kitchen or bathroom, for example, you’ll need to apply for this type of permit—and possibly plumbing and electrical permits too.

On average, these cost anywhere from $150 to $2,000, but for large-scale projects, the cost could be higher. Some local authorities charge a percentage of the total project budget, some a price per square foot, and others will have a flat rate.

Roofing Permit Costs

When you’re re-roofing your home as part of a wider renovation project, a general building permit will often cover the work. If you’re upgrading your roof as a one-off job, you’ll need a roofing permit before work can proceed. On average, these permits cost between $250 and $500. Sometimes, there are additional charges for roofs that are over 1,000 square feet.

Garage or Basement Conversion Permit Costs

You’ll need a permit if you’re adding or converting a garage or basement. The average price is around $1,200 to $2,000. This is because, along with the main building permit, additional permit fees will apply for things like plumbing, electrical wiring and outlets, and HVAC installation. You may even need to run a sewer line from your basement and consider extensive waterproofing, and these also require permits. If you aren’t adding lots of additional features, the permit fees will be more reasonable and range anywhere from $50 to $500.

Electrical Permit Costs

If you need to rewire or add new wiring, circuits, or outlets, you’ll probably need to apply for an electrical permit. These aren’t as expensive, but you can still expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $500.

Plumbing Permit Costs

For kitchen or bathroom remodels that require new piping or drain installation, chances are you’ll need a plumbing permit. On average, this can cost between $50 and $500.

Window Permit Costs

You’ll need a permit if you’re replacing the windows in your home—and sometimes even if you’re just making repairs. This is to ensure that the replacements meet current safety and energy efficiency standards. Typically, these permits are easier to access than others, and you can buy them on a per-window basis. These cost around $50 per window, but it usually works out cheaper when you replace several windows at once.

HVAC Permit Costs

Installing or moving air ducts and vents in the home is another job that requires a permit. This means you’ll need one if you’re having heating or air conditioning installed or upgraded. Although the permits cost on average $250 to $400, if you have already applied for a main building permit, often HVAC work is permissible under this.

Demolition Permit Costs

If you have an outbuilding with foundations in your garden that you want to get rid of, you’ll have to apply for a permit before you proceed. Often demolition services or building contractors will include the cost for this in their quote, but always check as there are hefty fines if you don’t comply. Expect to pay around $200 for this one.

Permit Costs for Outdoor Projects

Even something as seemingly unremarkable as erecting a fence can sometimes require a permit, particularly if it’s over 6 feet tall. Thankfully, this one won’t break the bank and typically costs between $20 and $60.

Building a patio or a deck is another one that can need a permit before work can begin. Fees usually range from $225 to $500.

You’ll also need one if you’re building a shed with foundations, electrics, or plumbing, and built-in swimming pools need one too. A simple shed permit might not cost more than $250, but a major building project could cost up to $2,000.

What Factors Influence the Cost of a Building Permit?

The exterior of a craftsman house at sunset
Photo: Joe Schmelzer / Corbis Documentary / Getty Images

You’ve no doubt realized that the price of permits can be pretty variable. Apart from the type of permit you need, there are several other elements to consider when including permit costs in your budget.

Location

Big cities often charge more for their permits than smaller rural authorities. Some authorities also require permit applications for types of work that others don’t.  

Size of the Property

Some authorities will charge higher fees for building permits required for larger homes or those with many installations.

Scope of the Project

Don’t forget that you often need more than one type of permit, especially if the project is complex. Plus, if the project is complex, some authorities charge more for their time to review the project and approve the plans.

Project Cost

Some authorities will only charge a flat rate for permits, and others have the fee and charge a percentage of the total cost of the project budget or contractor's quoted price.

FAQs About Building Permit Costs

What can happen if I neglect to obtain a required permit?

It can be tempting to just plough ahead with a project without a permit, but it isn’t worth the risk. Not only are they there to ensure everything is done safely and in accordance with the proper codes and regulations, but you could end up with a nasty fine, stop-work order, or even have trouble selling your house without them. Plus, it can invalidate your insurance, and you may need to redo the work to the proper standards.

Can I apply for a permit myself, or should I rely on a pro?

You absolutely can apply for a permit yourself, it’s just that doing it via a reputable local licensed contractor can make the entire process a lot simpler. They’ll know how to fill out the paperwork properly, attend any inspections, and help you navigate any bumps in the road to minimize stress and delays. Your building contractor will often include the permit fees as part of their bid, and it’ll be in their name rather than yours. Check to ensure the contractor pulls the permit before work begins, otherwise you will be responsible for any extra fees or fines.

There are even companies that offer permit application services to manage the process. On average, they charge around $35 to $70 per hour for their services.

How long will it take for permit application approval?

Straightforward permits, like those for electrical and plumbing work, can gain approval immediately. Permits relating to structural work usually take at least a month to come through. Sometimes issuing the permit won’t happen until after there has been an inspection of the final work.

Do I have to worry about my permit application not getting approved?

Permit applications can be complex and highly specific. By hiring an experienced contractor familiar with the application process, this will reduce the risk of approval denial. If you do your research and are aware of expectations, even if your application is initially denied, with some tweaks it is often possible to reapply within 12 months of the original application. It’s also possible to appeal a decision, although this is not always successful, and it can be several months before an outcome will be reached.

Who do I submit a permit application to?

Applications are always submitted to city or municipal councils. Information on the application process is often found on their websites, or you can call their planning department for clarification.

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