How To Get A Permit After Work Is Done: The Comprehensive Guide

How To Get A Permit After Work Is Done

You’ve just completed that stunning kitchen remodel or maybe you’ve finally put up that garden shed you’ve been dreaming about. The paint is fresh, the work is impeccable, and you’re excited to show it off. There’s just one tiny hiccup: you forgot to get a permit before starting the project. Now, the joy of your finished work is overshadowed by looming concerns about compliance, legality, and even potential fines. If you’re stuck in this nerve-wracking situation, you’re not alone. The process of obtaining a permit after the work is done can seem like navigating a labyrinth of bureaucratic obstacles. But don’t fret—there’s a way out. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll steer you through the maze of post-construction permits, from understanding the types you’ll need to how to ace the inspection process. So, take a deep breath; you’re about to turn your unpermitted project into a fully sanctioned masterpiece.

How To Get A Permit After Work Is Done?

Navigating the complexities of obtaining a permit after construction work has already been completed can feel like a daunting task. However, by systematically following these steps, you can legalize your work and steer clear of potential penalties or legal issues. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Identify the Permit Type

First, determine the kind of permit you need. Common types include Building Permits, Electrical Permits, Mechanical Permits, and Plumbing Permits. Check with your local government’s building department to find out what’s required for your specific project.

Step 2: Consult the Local Building Department

Contact your local building department for advice on how to proceed. Each jurisdiction has unique rules, so it’s essential to get information tailored to your specific location.

Step 3: Hire a Licensed Professional for As-Built Plans

Unless you already have them, you’ll need to prepare “as-built” plans, which show the work as it exists. A licensed architect or draftsman can help create these detailed plans to the specifications of your local building department.

Step 4: Gather Required Documentation

Compile all necessary documents, including:

  • As-built plans
  • Property deed or proof of ownership
  • Identification
  • Contractor’s details, if applicable

Step 5: Submit Permit Application

Fill out the permit application forms available at your local building department. Attach all required documents and submit the package either in person or, if permitted, online.

Step 6: Pay Fees

Depending on your jurisdiction and the type of work completed, fees can vary widely. In many cases, expect to pay a premium for obtaining a permit after the fact.

Step 7: Attend Plan Review

Your application and plans will undergo a review to ensure they comply with local codes and ordinances. This review may be conducted by a board or a qualified inspector.

Step 8: Make Any Required Modifications

If the review board or inspector requests modifications or corrections, you’ll need to address these promptly. Submit any revised documents and await reevaluation.

Step 9: Secure the Permit

Once your application is approved, you’ll receive your permit, which must be displayed at the project site.

Step 10: Schedule Inspections

The next phase involves one or more inspections of the work site to ensure all work complies with local codes. An inspector will either sign off on the project or list necessary corrections.

Step 11: Make Corrections, If Needed

If the inspector identifies issues, you’ll need to correct them and then schedule a reinspection.

Step 12: Obtain Final Approval

After passing the inspection, you’ll either receive a Certificate of Occupancy or a Certificate of Completion. This document indicates that your project complies with all local laws and is deemed safe for its intended use.

By following these steps meticulously, you can mitigate the risks and stress associated with having completed work without a permit. It’s a rigorous process, but a necessary one to ensure your project stands up to legal scrutiny and meets all safety standards.

Identifying The Type Of Permit Needed

Determining the type of permit needed for a project is the first critical step in regulatory compliance. Permits vary depending on the jurisdiction, activity, and specific requirements, making it crucial to consult local or federal guidelines. Missing this step could lead to delays or legal issues.

For construction projects, building permits are often required to ensure that the work meets safety and zoning standards. Electrical, plumbing, and mechanical permits are also commonly needed, each focusing on a specific aspect of the construction to comply with established codes.

Outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, or camping usually require permits issued by natural resource agencies. These permits are designed to regulate the impact on the environment and wildlife, helping to maintain a balanced ecosystem.

If you’re planning an event like a concert, parade, or protest, you may need a special event permit. This type of permit generally involves multiple agencies and ensures that public safety measures are in place. Application procedures can be extensive and time-sensitive.

Businesses often require several permits, ranging from occupancy to health and safety. For example, a restaurant would need permits for food handling, fire safety, and liquor licensing. Each permit serves to standardize practices and ensures that the business adheres to local, state, or federal regulations.

In the healthcare sector, permits are necessary for the operation of facilities like hospitals and clinics. They must comply with stringent standards for patient care, sanitation, and medical equipment. Obtaining the correct permit signifies a level of competence and readiness to provide medical services.

How To Apply For A Permit

  • Compile Required Documents: This usually includes the as-built plans, identification, and sometimes proof of property ownership.
  • Fill Out Application Forms: These are available from your local permitting office. Fill them out carefully, providing all requested information.
  • Pay Fees: Fees vary depending on your location and the type of permit. Be prepared for higher fees due to the post-construction nature of your application.
  • Attend Plan Review: A review board or inspector will scrutinize your plans for compliance with local codes.
  • Get Your Permit: After approval, you will receive your permit. Display it prominently on your property.

Tips For A Smooth Permitting Process

Start Early: The permitting process can be time-consuming. Starting well in advance will give you ample time to gather the required documentation and make necessary revisions.

Consult Experts: Utilize the expertise of professionals like architects, engineers, or legal advisors who are familiar with the permitting landscape. They can help identify which permits you’ll need and how to obtain them.

Understand Local Laws: Different jurisdictions have different regulations. Take the time to understand local, state, and federal laws that may apply to your project.

Compile All Necessary Documentation: Each type of permit typically requires specific sets of plans, studies, or assessments. Make sure you have all the necessary documents before applying to avoid delays.

Follow the Guidelines: Pay close attention to the instructions provided by the issuing authority. A minor oversight could result in your application being rejected or delayed.

Check for Updates: Regulations and requirements can change. Make it a practice to routinely check if there are any new laws or amendments that might affect your permit status.

Open Lines of Communication: Keep the lines of communication open with the permitting agency. Establishing a good rapport can help smooth out any kinks in the process.

Attend Public Meetings: Some permits require community approval or environmental assessments. Attending public meetings can help you understand public sentiment and address concerns proactively.

Double-Check Before Submission: Before submitting your application, double-check that all information is accurate and that all required documents are included. This reduces the likelihood of setbacks.

Follow-up: Once your application is submitted, keep track of its status and follow up regularly to ensure it is being processed in a timely manner.

By following these tips, you can navigate the complexities of the permitting process more smoothly, reducing stress and potential delays.


Successfully navigating the complexities of the permitting process may seem overwhelming, but it’s absolutely manageable with careful planning, expert consultation, and a proactive approach. By starting early, familiarizing yourself with jurisdiction-specific regulations, and keeping open lines of communication with relevant agencies, you can streamline the permit acquisition process and avoid unnecessary delays or legal complications. This blog aimed to demystify the types of permits needed for various activities and offer actionable tips for a smooth application process. We hope this guide serves as a helpful resource in your own permitting journey. Thank you for reading, and best of luck with your endeavors.

Frances Umstead

Frances Umstead is a health & fitness writer with a passion for helping others reach their fitness goals. She has been featured in magazines and online publications such as Shape, Self, Huffington Post, and more. When she's not sweating it out at the gym or writing about health & fitness, Frances can be found reading a good book or spending time with her husband and pup.

Latest from Blog