Patio covers or pergolas can be both an aesthetically pleasing and practical addition to your backyard, but you may have questions about building or installing one in your home. Are permits required for patio covers? Do I need to obtain a permit to build my patio cover?
A permit is required for building patio covers. Building a patio cover can be done without a permit, in theory. However, homeowners can incur fees if cited by the city during the build. Homeowners can often run into issues when reselling their home, or worse, if a structure fails.
Read on for a list of situations where permits are required, when more than one is necessary, why you should always build your structures to code, and what may happen if you don’t.
Do It Yourself or Licensed Contractor: Permit Requirements
Most incorporated cities will require that you obtain a permit before building on an attached or detached structure. The permitting process aims to ensure that structures are constructed safely and are stable. Most homeowners take two different paths when building patio covers:
Hiring a contractor or doing it yourself. Here is what the permit process looks like for both:
- If you plan to hire a contractor, they should be licensed. Most cities or counties have a way to check to see if the contractor you’ve selected has applied for a license. Visit your city Development Services website for further information.
- Licensed contractors will be familiar with your city and county permitting requirements. They will be able to obtain the permits for building your patio cover and include the cost in their bid.
- If you plan to take on a project yourself, you’ll need to contact your city or county for permitting. Most cities offer a guide online or by phone that can lead you to the exact permit you’ll need based on the details of your project.
- In Do It Yourself situations, some cities may require that you complete a Homeowners Exam to demonstrate your proficiency in specific trades before a permit is granted.
- You should be contacting your most local governing body to ensure you’re following the correct building codes and obtaining the proper permits. Building codes are more thorough, the more local the governing body is.
When is Additional Clearance Required for Patio Covers?
States offer minimum building codes for general safety. Cities and counties often establish their own permitting rules, often stricter. As we’ve already determined, the more local the governing body, the more stringent the building codes to follow are, but some situations require even further clearance.
Homeowners Associations or HOAs can have restrictions on the design, height, and even finishing material of your structure. Homeowner’s Associations are usually formed in communities and neighborhoods of single-family homes to enforce rules in those communities, so you should know if your home falls under an HOA upon moving in.
It is in your best interest to contact your Homeowners Association before building, even before obtaining a permit, as HOAs can restrict the height of your structure. If you’re able to find a local licensed contractor that has had business within your HOA, they should be up to date on all restrictions.
Homeowners Associations can fine property owners for not abiding by specifications for the height and finishings of a structure. HOAs are authorized to pass on reasonable fines to homeowners that fail to follow the HOAs guidelines.
Though the Homeowners Association cannot force you to sell your home and move, they have the ability to initiate a lawsuit that could end in foreclosure.
What Do I Need to Do to Obtain a Permit?
If you’ve hired a licensed contractor and verified their license, here’s some good news! You shouldn’t have to do anything else to obtain the correct permits for your project.
A licensed contractor should have the knowledge and capabilities to obtain all of the necessary permits to complete your project safely and on time.
If you’re choosing to complete your patio cover project yourself, there’s no need to stress too much about the permitting process. Obtaining a permit on your own can seem overwhelming, but there are a few easy steps to follow that can make the process simple and quick. Here’s what to do:
- The first step is to call ahead and schedule an appointment with your city’s building official. This call could offer you guidance on what to bring with you to the appointment.
- In general, it’s a good idea to bring the following information with you:
- A detailed drawing of your proposed patio cover or deck
- A material lists
- The proposed types of footings you’ll use (concrete, deck blocks, etc.)
- Proposed joint spacing
- If you’re building a deck with a patio cover, notate where your stairs will be placed. Also, notate the length, width, and height of the deck.
Permits will likely cost you some money. On average, a permit for a patio cover with or without a deck can range anywhere from 0-500 dollars. Your local building official should be able to give you the exact costs after receiving details of your proposed structure.
If you decide before building your patio cover that your eventual goal is to have a screened in patio room, we discuss costs to build a a screened in patio in a separate article. You might want to read that first as that may dictate what type of patio cover you build.
What if I Build My Patio Cover Without A Permit?
Suppose you have chosen not to obtain a permit before building your patio cover. In that case, there are a few things you should know and be prepared for: Building a structure on your property can affect your:
- Financial security
All of these need to be taken into consideration before jumping into construction.
Risk of Safety and Security
A patio cover built without a permit can be putting yourself, your family, and anyone using your patio or deck in danger. Permits are in place to ensure that structures are built to the newest, most specific building codes.
These codes ensure sturdy and safe structures. Building inspectors will pass or fail your structure once it is complete, and without a permit, there is no inspection.
Financial Security May be in Jeopardy
If your structure is built without a permit, there may be no consequence in the short term, but there are several instances that can affect your financial security by not obtaining a permit.
- If your structure is, in fact, unstable, and its failure hurts someone, you can be held personally responsible for damages and medical bills.
- Suppose you file an insurance claim for damages due to a faulty structure, and it is discovered that there was no permit obtained when it was built. In that case, your insurance company can choose not to cover any damages, holding you financially responsible.
- If your city finds your structure built without a permit, you can be ordered to tear it down or even pay back property taxes on the structure.
Reputation is on the Line
If you have a structure on your property and attempt to sell your home, a building inspector will point out that a permit wasn’t pulled, regardless of the build quality. This discovery could damage any offers you have received your home or even hold up the sale altogether.
Any of the above situations could damage your reputation as a homeowner. The last thing you want is to have someone hurt on your property by a structure you build without obtaining a permit.
Obtaining a permit to build a patio cover on your property is required by your state, county, and city governments. It is your responsibility to obtain a permit before building to ensure your safety, the safety of your family and friends, and your financial wellbeing.
Now that you know about obtaining a permit, you can start looking at which patio covers will look best in your backyard! In case your HOA denies you from having a patio cover built, you might want to look into patio awning costs or patio umbrellas.