So, it’s finally time to “get around to” that home improvement project. Maybe it’s something small. Maybe it’s something big. Maybe it’s several somethings. Whatever your plans, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to secure a permit from the city before you get down to business.  So we’ve rounded up a list of all the home improvement projects that require permits in Mobile. We’ve also put together a handy checklist you can use to make sure you’ve got everything you need to apply for whatever permit you need!

No Permit Necessary

There are plenty of home improvement projects that require permits, but there are also plenty that don’t. You’re busy enough planning your project without adding unnecessary steps to the mix. So, before you get in too deep, here are the projects you might be about to tackle that DO NOT require a permit.

  • Painting inside or outside
  • Installing new countertops
  • Installing new cabinetry
  • Replacing light fixtures and/or ceiling fans
  • Replacing any fixture or equipment that does not require rewiring
  • Building a fence less than 6 feet high

For those of you enterprising DIYers who don’t see your project on this list, let’s move on to the projects that DO require permits.

Types of Permits

The city of Mobile breaks down the home improvements that require permits into 3 categories.

Residential Permits cover projects having to do with your home itself or other structures on your property. This can include construction, major repairs, demolition, electrical work, or plumbing work.

Land disturbance permits pertain to changes made to your property as a whole. This permit type will come into play anytime construction or another change to the property will affect an area over 4,000 sq. feet.

Right of way permits apply to any work that will affect or obstruct public property such as public sidewalks, public landscaping, and roads.

Now that you know which category your project falls under, we’ll take a look at the specific projects that fall within each category.

Home Improvement Projects that Require Permits: Residential

Most home improvement projects that require permits fall under the residential permits category. These projects include:

  • Building a new structure on your property, such as a garage, storage building, guest house, etc.
  • Setting up a pre-made structure, like a shed.
  • Building an addition onto an existing structure. This includes: building an attached garage, building a sunroom, adding additional rooms to the house, and extending the area of an existing room.
  • Making structural changes to an existing building. This includes: removing walls, building new walls, enlarging a window or door opening, enclosing a garage or carport, and installing a fireplace and/or chimney.
  • Building a deck, patio, patio covering, porch or porch covering.
  • Installing RV covers, boat covers, carports, and screened porches or sunrooms.
  • Installing a pool or spa greater than 24 inches deep, either in ground or above ground.
  • Constructing a fence over 6 feet high or a retaining wall over 4 feet high.
  • Constructing anything adjacent to a floodzone.
  • Building piers, boathouses, or bulkheads.
  • Repairs to roofing and siding.
  • Any work that requires rewiring or installing new wiring.

Home Improvement Projects that Require Permits: Land Disturbance 

Most of the jobs that require land disturbance permits are beyond the means of the average DIYer. However, some common DIY jobs do fall under this category. These include:

  • Constructing a driveway.
  • Constructing a sidewalk.
  • Constructing a patio or porch.
  • Laying gravel or concrete slab.
  • Clearing land.

*You may have noticed that a few of these projects are also mentioned in the Residential Permit section. The difference is one of scale. Remember that a land disturbance permit only comes into play if the project will affect an area greater than 4000 sq. feet. If your planned project is smaller, then you’re good to go with a residential permit.

Home Improvement Projects that Require Permits: Right of Way

Like the last category, most of the jobs that require right of way permits are ones only professionals would be handling. But there are a few situations where you might need to file a right of way permit:

  • Renting a dumpster. If you rent a roll off container to handle cleanup for your project, you’ll need a permit if you want to place it on the street or anywhere where it will obstruct the sidewalk.
  • Parking specialized equipment. If you need to park equipment for your project in the street, you’ll need a permit. This applies to things like cement mixers or other specialized equipment, not your personal vehicles.
  • Constructing or repairing a driveway. You may need a permit if the work you’re doing on your driveway will affect a public sidewalk, or cause you to obstruct the sidewalk or street as you work.
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No permit required to drop your dumpster in your driveway.

Securing Your Permit

Now that you know what type of permit you need, it’s time to actually file for it. We’ve broken it down step by step to make the process as simple as possible.

Step 1: Secure the deed to your property and your last property tax notice.

Step 2: Obtain a sewage hook-up permit or percolation test number from the Mobile County Health Department.

Step 3: Draw up a set of plans for your project. They should be detailed enough to show that you meet any relevant code requirements. You can draw these plans up yourself or hire a professional in the appropriate field. Make several copies of the plans once you’re finished.

Step 4: Bring your deed, property tax notice, sewage hook-up permit, and two copies of your plans to the Mobile County Inspection Office: 1110 Schillinger Road N, Ste 100 Mobile, AL 36608.

Once your permit application has been approved, you can get to work. After your project is completed, you may be required to schedule an inspection  and report the inspector’s findings to the County.

We hope this guide helps you get your project started on the right foot. If you’re stuck on how to clean up after the job is done, we can help there,too, with an affordable Mobile dumpster rental.