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Do You Need a Permit to Build a Deck?

Any construction, either small or big, is a lifetime investment that is costly, time-consuming, and tiresome. You expect it to be perfect and serve you for a long period without repairs or refurbishing, most especially if it is new construction.

However, all this can drain if you do not meet all the requirements according to the government standards and regulations on constructing a deck. Shortcuts when constructing a building may seem good but can end up costing you a lot.

The government may also make an order for the building demolition if the requirements are not met. Some people ask: must I go for a permit to construct a deck? Is the permit of any use?

Keep reading to find out.


What is a deck permit?

A deck is a wooden platform normally built above the ground and joined to the main building. Once it has been built to a certain height, rails are used to enclose it for safety measures. You can access your deck from the ground through stairs and doors from the main house.

Therefore, a deck permit is an official approval that the local government issues to people who want to build a deck. It gives you or your contractor the go-ahead on a deck remodeling or construction project. The permit aims to see to it that your deck complies with local standards for zoning and construction.

The standards aim to ensure safety for the current and future owners of a deck.


Is having a permit to build a deck important?

The answer to this question is yes. It is crucial to have a permit when constructing a new deck. All government policies are there for a reason. Failure to comply with the set government rules and regulations can lead to harsh penalties. Therefore, to be on the safe side when building a deck, it is important to get a permit.

The local jurisdiction must assess all decks during construction and ensure the constructors meet and comply with the regulations and safety standards. The local jurisdiction will also see that the deck is constructed according to the latest standards and building regulations.

Acquiring a deck permit might seem like a pain-taking process that is irksome, boring, and time-consuming. However, this might not be the case. You will be surprised at how fast you can acquire one if you do thorough paperwork that meets the requirements.

If you are working with a good and professional contractor, you might walk out of the office holding the permit on the very day you go for it.


Reasons why you may be denied a deck permit

Although you can get a permit the same day, some might take longer and may not go through as expected due to the following reasons:


1. Poorly drawn plans

Having the correct plans is the key to having your permit granted faster. If the plan you present at the permit office is not drawn properly, you will be sent to create another one or modify the one you present.

In most cases, poor plans will go through after correction and presentation of other plans to the office as per the standards given by the law. Therefore, it is advisable to take your time when making a plan to avoid denial of a deck permit.

Having a professional local contractor will be a good deal for you. Most of them understand the standards required and the rules and regulations of constructing a deck in the area. This will reduce the time you will spend on making and rectifying a plan, and you might end up getting the permit sooner than you thought.


2. Failure to comply with the zoning rules and restrictions

Every zone has rules and regulations that are expected to be followed to the latter. If the property does not have enough space to have a deck constructed according to the bylaws set by the zone, you will not get a permit. A professional constructor can help you to comply with these rules and regulations.


Can I build without a permit?

The answer is no. The bylaws and regulations are set to be clear for everyone to follow. However, some people think they can bend the law for some time and build a deck without a permit? The law is set straight for every person and property regardless of the size and the location.

Although the government does not catch some people who choose to build without a permit, this might not end well because you may make expensive mistakes.

If the deck meets the following threshold, you can build without a permit but in most rare cases. However, you will need to confirm with the local jurisdiction law to determine if the property is exempted from the deck permit:

  • If the deck is not connected with your home.
  • If the deck is below the standard threshold of 30 inches above the ground.
  • If the deck does not serve as a home’s exit door.
  • If the property has less than 200 square feet.


What is the requirement for obtaining a deck permit?

Your zone will direct you on the requirements to approve your deck before commencing the construction. You might need to prepare and present one or two copies of a scale drawings plan of the deck. Prepare a good overview of the front and sides structure drawing of the deck.

This can be done through a hand graph drawing that meets the required standards. You can also hire a professional constructor to draw the plan for you. Such professionals can draw the plan using computer software. This will give a good impression to the people reviewing the building plan. It also enables you to view how the final structure will appear after construction.

You need to include various things in the deck plan final draft, including the size of the frost footing, beams, rafters spacing, location, joist, and any other important information.

After submitting all required information and plans, applying for a deck permit will be easy as all the plans will have already been in place. Communication will be made, and an inspector will oversee how the site is before the construction commences.


What are the consequences of building without a deck permit?

The major risks that you may face are several safety issues. If an official does not assess your deck, you might construct it wrongly, and it may fail to resist dangers from nature such as earthquakes, floods, windstorms, tornadoes, and many more.

When an official inspects your deck before and after construction, they will ensure that the deck adheres to the set guidelines. Decks that are build following all the set standards can withstand elements of weather.

An official also inspects if your deck has any design errors. Building a deck before it has been inspected is bad because you might not know the design error until it’s too late. Some of the design errors include constructing a deck that is not penetrating correctly through the home’s envelope.

An inspection officer can point out several mistakes and advise you on correcting them before you start the building process.

Building a deck without a permit is a danger to your structure because you don’t know how many loads your structure can support. An inspection officer can let you know the best kind of deck to construct.

If you’re found constructing a deck without a permit, you might be forced to dismantle all your work and apply for an inspection after you’ve been handed a stop-work order. You will also receive hefty penalties for breaking the law.

You can avoid the losses that come with dismantling a construction by obtaining the necessary permit before you start building.


Can I get a permit for an already built deck?

Note that you can still get a permit if you happen to build a deck without a permit, possibly because you didn’t know you needed one. Chances may also be you don’t have a permit because you could have bought a property without checking if the previous owner had the right paperwork at hand before you bought the property.

If the deck was built many years ago, you will be required to obtain a permit and upgrade it according to the current standards and regulations of the local jurisdiction.


What value does a deck add to a property?

Not only does a deck give beauty to your property, but you also enjoy it in various ways, like relaxation during sunny and rainy days. A deck also gives added value to your property in that it attracts many prospective buyers if it is constructed and structured well.

Most buyers will go for a home with a deck and spend more on it than one without a deck. By getting a permit, you can rest assured that your deck will be as per the rules and regulations that the government has set.