Possible Permits Needed for Building Renovations

Washington D.C. sets the example for the entire nation when it comes to the rules and regulations that are deeply imbedded in almost every government bureaucracy. Our elected and appointed officials make and enforce the laws, rules and regulations that we all must follow. Building and construction is one part of the local economy that is strictly regulated. The District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is in charge of issuing permits and collecting fees for new construction as well as office and building renovations.

Why are permits for office and building renovations necessary?

While some people might think that all of the different permits you may need to do an office or building renovation are unnecessary and just a way for the government to collect more revenue, the permitting process is more than just another type of tax. Permits help insure that no shortcuts are taken during construction that may compromise the integrity of the structure and the safety of the occupants.

When do you not need a permit?

Renovation projects range in scope from minor upgrades to major overhauls. Generally, unless you own a building in a historic district, you do not need a permit for:

  • Caulking, patching or plaster repairs to interior or exterior walls
  • Repairing or installing gutters
  • Repairing an existing fence with similar materials
  • Painting interior or exterior walls
  • Upgrading windows or adding screens

Permits are needed for larger projects and renovations

You may need to get a permit for work that you want to have done to both the exterior and interior of a building. Whenever you alter, repair or do an addition to an existing building, you should always check with the DCRA to make sure you have the proper permits before you begin the job. If you do not follow proper procedure, you can face major problems and expenses after you have begun or completed work.

You may need a permit if …

  • You need to erect a tower crane to lift materials up to a high floor to do repair work or add an additional architectural feature
  • You have to repair, remove or replace an existing roof
  • You have to raze or demolish part or all of an existing structure
  • You need to rewire the electrical system
  • You need to upgrade the plumbing in the building
  • You need to repair or install a boiler or furnace
  • You decide to create an additional usable space like an outdoor cafe
  • You want to put up a different sign on your building or property

How much do permits cost in the District of Columbia?

Prices for obtaining a permit are usually based on the size of the project, the value of the construction, or a combination of the two. Following are a few examples of the charges for permits in Washington D.C.

  • Construction valued at less than $500 = $33.00
  • Construction valued from $501-$1,000 = $65
  • Construction valued between $1,001-$1,000,000 = $30 plus 2% of the construction value.

Permits can add to the cost of doing a renovation on an office building and they should be included in your budget when you are planning a project. A licensed D.C. contractor should be aware of all necessary permits and you can always check with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to be certain that everything is in order before you start the renovation of your building