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Does Your Garage Need a Building Permit?

In most jurisdictions constructing a garage requires obtaining a building permit. Find out what you need to get one and what inspections you may be required to pass as the project proceeds in the following section.

I have a friend who builds homes and when he heard that a DIY garage was in my future, his first response was that I had better not forget to get a building permit. It seems that local jurisdictions tend to frown upon buildings going up without permits and proper inspections – if they happen to drive by or someone reports it, they can stop the project and sometimes even levy a fine.

Actually, while it may seem like a lot of trouble, it’s really for your own good. Your local building department will check to ensure the building is properly designed and their field inspectors will visit to verify that it’s being built according to the plans and that all building codes are being met or exceeded. While it can vary depending on where you live, most building departments just require a simple drawing to issue a permit to build a garage – in my case the drawing VersaTube provided sufficed.

You get your permit at the county or city building department and don’t forget your check book – there will be a small fee involved. Ask the building official what inspections will be required when construction gets underway – it can vary greatly by jurisdiction, but a few you might expect:

  • Concrete footings and piers

  • Slab

  • Framing

  • Final inspection

If you plan on having any outlets or lights in your garage, there will definitely be rough and final electrical inspections.

There are several building codes in use across the country and many states make modifications as they see fit. Ask what code is being used in your locality and in most cases, your state will have their building code online as a convenience for contractors and DIYers who are attempting to build a garage. Don’t forget to schedule your inspections as they are needed and always be friendly with the inspectors even if you don’t agree with them – the last thing you want is an angry building inspector on your project.