Renovating your Baltimore investment property can do wonders for its aesthetic appeal, not to mention its value. And thankfully, most of the small things don’t require any sort of permit. You can paint, install new cabinetry, do minor electrical work, fix certain plumbing issues and more. But once you get into those large-scale projects, well … you can’t just do whatever you want. You’ll need to get a permit, and that can feel like a project of its own. However, with a little knowledge and the right tools, you can get the information you need without too much stress.
You Don’t Need a Permit (Except When You Really Do)
Figuring out if you need a permit can be a difficult process. For example, you don’t need a building permit to add an additional bathroom into your property — but you do need obtain plumbing and electrical permits for the work being done. And if you live in a historic district, which Baltimore has plenty of, a permit is often required for things that normally wouldn’t need government approval.
Your Renovation Starts Before You Pick Up a Hammer
Before you begin any work, ask the question: Does this project require any permits? If so, which permits do I need? You can ask your contractor if you have one, or you can use the following checklist to decide.
A permit is necessary to:
- Construct, enlarge, alter, repair, rehabilitate, demolish or move any structure
- Erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert, or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system
- Change the use of any structure or land
- Perform any grading or excavating
If your project involves anything from that list, then you need a permit. If you still aren’t sure, then you need to get in touch with Baltimore Housing at 443-984-1809 and ask to speak with someone from Baltimore Housing’s Office of Permits & Building Inspections.
Baltimore Housing also has you covered online with all of your most pertinent questions. Their handy Resident Handbook is designed to answer frequently asked questions, and it should help guide you through the ins and outs of acquiring the proper permits.
You Have Permission to Get Things Moving
When you’re ready to get a renovation permit in Baltimore, head over to baltimorehousing.org. There, you’ll get an in-depth look at all the permit applications available. You can download and print them to get a head start on the application process. And to make things even easier, they have instituted an online permit application process.
Their ePermits & ePlans Review System allows you to skip the lines by filling out and submitting all the paperwork and applications through the internet. It is open 24 hours a day, and you can use it to send/receive emails regarding your permit as well as to pay for your permit. Once approved, you’ll receive your permit through email. You can use this online system for:
- Amendments to add/change contractors
- Construction/Alterations (1 & 2 family dwellings)
- Demolition (razing)
- Use & Occupancy
How Long Will It Take to Get My Permit?
Not long at all. In fact, you can usually receive a renovation permit in Baltimore on the same day you applied for it, providing everything was filled out correctly. If you submitted an application for electrical, plumbing, HVAC&R, gas, extensions, or amendments to change or add contractors, your application will be ready for payment within one hour of submission — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For any other permit type, applications submitted by 9:00 am will receive an approval (or response) by 2:00 pm that same business day — those submitted after 9:00 am will receive an approval (or response) by 2:00 pm the following business day.
What Will My Permit Cost Me?
The cost of one type of permit can be vastly different that the cost of another type of permit. However, the permit costs are all very reasonable and can range anywhere from $20 to upwards of $800+. You can find the full range of permit costs here.
Do I Need a Permit if I Use a Contractor?
Absolutely. Often, part of the contractor’s service is acquiring the necessary permits before beginning any renovation. Be sure to speak with your contractor to ensure the work they are doing is code compliant and that all necessary permits have been obtained.
What Happens if I Don’t Get a Permit, But Proceed with Renovations Anyway?
Quite simply, you’ll be fined. The fine you receive will come on top of any assessed administrative penalties. And it could be costly. You will have to pay either a fine up to $1,000 or 50% of the total permit fee, whichever is the greater cost.
And you’ll still be required to apply for your proper permits and pay their fees. Therefore, it’s best to play by the rules and get your permit right away.
Get Your Permit and Get Renovating
What seems like it could be a daunting task really isn’t that difficult. Just make sure you get the facts, then get your permit, and you’ll be good to go. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to sell or rent your newly renovated Baltimore property, and the worries of permits will be in the past.