You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

Permits 101: Navigating Your Garage Remodel

Are you thinking about turning your garage into a gym, office or man cave? You're not alone.

Research shows converting your garage may add 20% to your home's value while giving you more usable space. However, you might need a permit first.

This article covers the following points about permits:

  • Do I Need a Permit to Remodel My Garage? 

  • Construction Work Requires a Permit

  • Electrical or Plumbing Building Code

  • Why a Permit for Electrical Work?

  • Minor Electrical Repairs Or Water Heater 

  • Heating and Air Conditioning

  • Build a Garage

  • Working on Your Garage Without a Permit

  • Building Department Permit Process 

  • Real Estate Improvement

Let's explore what you need to know about city permits and garage remodels.

Do I Need a Permit to Remodel My Garage?

Whether you need a permit for your garage remodel depends on how you plan to upgrade the space. 

Perhaps you plan to make a structural change to create a living space. This might involve adding a new wall, door, or electrical system. You'll need a permit to complete the work.

No permit is required to paint your garage's walls or replace light fixtures.

Let's examine which projects require permits and what happens if you don't get permits for them. 

Construction Work Requires a Permit 

Permits are required to add second stories, balconies, or patios to garages.

You'll likely also need a city permit to install a new garage door since this is an exterior garage remodel. Some locales require new garage doors to be impact-resistant if they're in states that experience hurricanes, like Florida. This will help keep your household safe.

Repairing a garage door usually doesn't require a permit.

What about replacing your garage floor? You'll likely need a permit since this project may require soil grading to avoid drainage issues. Repairing your floor may be more cost-efficient than replacing it if grading is necessary. 

No permit may be required to hang drywall on exposed wooden wall studs in your garage. Speak with your local building department to find out what their specific requirements are for installing drywall in your garage.

Electrical or Plumbing Building Code

Are you thinking about making electrical upgrades or plumbing alterations to your garage? Both of these types of projects will likely require permits.

A permit is necessary to replace or add new circuits and outlets to your garage. Your local building department must also give you a permit before you replace or alter your garage's plumbing lines or fixtures, which might involve adding a new pipe. 

Don't worry about getting a permit if you're doing routine maintenance, such as fixing leaky faucets or replacing old toilets. 

Why a Permit for Electrical Work?

A single spark can have lasting damage, that's why you need a permit to do electrical work.

A proper permit ensures the company or person doing the electrical work is qualified to do it. This will help ensure the safety of your family and your property.  

Minor Electrical Repairs or Water Heater

Let's say you plan to do minor electrical work in your garage. These types of repairs usually don't require permits if you're not increasing the space's electrical load - the amount of power needed to run appliances or devices in your garage.

An example of a minor electrical repair is replacing a light switch or outlet. Another example is replacing a breaker with a same-amperage one.

Electric and gas water heater installations also typically require permits. This ensures they meet code requirements and safety regulations.  

Heating and Air Conditioning

Are you planning to install a heating and air conditioning system in your garage? Get a permit.

This is necessary even if you're only replacing a broken-down air conditioner or furnace with a new one. 

Build a Garage 

Are you thinking about creating a custom-built garage since you have a large enough property to put one on? A permit is necessary since you'll be building a new structure.

Building a carport may be a financially savvy move if your goal is to create extra parking spaces rather than a living space.

Working On Your Garage Without a Permit

Tempted to start remodeling and building a garage without getting a permit? Don't. 

A building permit is a public record, so anybody can pull one by making a phone call or typing a home address into their local building department's website. Nosy neighbors or nearby building inspectors may tip your building department off that you're doing work with no permit.

Connect with your building office by email or phone before beginning your project. They'll make sure you complete the project correctly the first time according to your local building code.

Let's look at what can happen if you don't get a permit before doing a garage remodel.

Home Insurance 

Your homeowner's insurance company might cancel your policy if they discover you didn't get a permit to work on your garage.

Managing risk is important to insurance agencies. Your insurer is taking an unnecessary risk with your home if you willfully ignore permit requirements.


Get a permit to remodel your garage to avoid being fined. The city may fine you between $200 and $500 if they discover you worked on your garage with no permit. Then, you'll have to rip out your work and start from scratch to get a permit. 

Some cities require you to pay extra penalties every day until your work complies with the city's standards.

Selling Your Home

Failure to get a permit before remodeling your garage might deter you from selling your house.

Let's say you plan to put your house on the market within a few years. A potential buyer may look for permits for your home to make sure the home has been built and remodeled correctly. If they can't find any permits, they might look for another home with recorded permits. 

Building Department Permit Process

How do you get a permit for your garage remodel or build? Let's examine the permit application process.


Submit a construction plan to your city's building department when applying for a permit. They'll also ask you to complete a permit application. 

The department can tell you what information to include in your plans and application. Required details might include:

  • Your project's specific location

  • Your project's size

Explain whether you're adding a new structure or expanding your existing structure. 

Your paperwork might require you to hire a licensed home contractor to complete the work. Confirm this with your building department before starting work.


Getting a permit for your garage may take several days to a few months depending on your project's scope and size. When you submit your application ensure it isn't missing documents to avoid delaying the permit process.

Some projects require extra reviews, so budget time for these, too. These reviews may include: 

  • Environmental studies

  • Special inspection permits

Your permit will likely be valid for 180 days. You don't have to complete your project within this timeframe, but you'll need to schedule an inspection for it. The city will want to confirm your project is progressing according to their standards.

Various types of garage projects require different types of inspections. A detailed electrical inspection will be necessary if you're adding new electrical outlets. A local structural inspection will be required if you're adding walls to your garage. 

You'll likely receive another 180 days to finish your work once you pass your inspection.


Permit costs vary based on the project type and size. Some building departments use pricing structures where they base a person's permit cost on their construction project's estimated value. Your building department can tell you how much your permit will cost.

A simple permit may cost you around $25. This type of permit might cover a $500 renovation. 

A permit for a larger project might cost more than $1,000. Some homeowners may spend around $18,000 for renovation expenses totaling $500,000.

The permit cost is a small percentage of your overall project cost, so invest in it to have the peace of mind that your work will be done according to code.

Transform Your Garage Today

At Park and Sons, we specialize in transforming garages into usable space for you, your family or your hobbies. From offices, home gyms, game rooms, homeschooling areas, workshops and more, we can make your garage usable for more than just your car. We even go as far as insulating and heating/cooling the area. 

Parker & Sons can help you navigate the permit process and add space to your home. Contact us today!

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