5 Things you need to know about Houston building permits


Building a new home or remodeling your existing one can be an exciting process. Sure, it can be scary since it’s such a big step, but there’s an amazing feeling to shaping and molding your property to your tastes. However, it’s important to not be reckless — when it comes to building new structures and renovating existing ones, the entire process must be meticulous, measured, and executed correctly.

That’s why building permits are an essential part of the renovation and building process. At Houston Plans and Permits, one of our services is obtaining the proper building permits for our clients. While our main service is designing quality house floor plans that our clients can take to contractors, permits are nonetheless an important step, and obtaining them on your own can be a nightmare.

Want to get up to speed with Houston building permits? Here are some things you need to know:



Can you build a new structure or make a major remodel without having a permit? Yes. Is it legal? No. In other words, you should never begin a project until you’ve acquired the necessary Houston Building Permits.

Some homeowners feel like they’re a shoe-in for approval because their design is professional and nothing out of the ordinary. While it may be likely that they’re right, you should never take chances with this kind of thing. You can get that the state won’t go easy on you just because you’ve already started.

Whenever you’re in doubt, just remember that it’s the law, and it’s not a law that nobody cares about, like jaywalking across an empty street. This is a project that you’ll be sinking a lot of time and money into, and you’ll have major regrets if you take a shortcut and then get busted for it later.



While this is something that seems obvious to many homeowners, there are still a lot of people who groan about the permit process, feeling that it’s an unnecessary and inconvenient step. It’s easy to see why you might feel this way if you go through a team of qualified professionals for your building design — why, after all, should you have reason to doubt their work?

As home floor plan designers ourselves, we can confirm that our designs are up to code and that we take every possible step to ensure that they comply with every Houston requirement.

With that being said, there are valid reasons why permits are required:

  • Not All Building and Design Is Handled By Pros: Building construction and major remodels kind of extend past the realm of “DIY” jobs for most people. We all have hobbies, but few people spend their free time building advanced structures. But still, these folks do exist, and they may insist on building something themselves. This could potentially result in poor construction that could have major consequences later on.
  • There is a Legitimate Safety Concern: A poorly built structure can be a major safety hazard. One job of permits is to ensure that the building has a solid foundation, well-planned design, and proper materials. If any of these elements aren’t up to code, you could have problems. Imagine living in a building that’s at risk of crumbling at any moment — not exactly somewhere you’d want to house your loved ones.
  • Buildings Are Connected To Many Other Systems: Aside from just being a safety concern, it’s also important to remember that buildings are closely intertwined with a lot of other infrastructural systems. Plumbing, electrical, storm protection, and mechanical are all systems that are linked to structures, and it’s the responsibility of homeowners, floor plan designers, and building contractors to make sure these aren’t disrupted.



We started this list off by saying that you should never start a project without obtaining a building permit. We stand by this, but it’s also important to note that you don’t always need a permit. Depending on the size and scale of your project, it may be deemed minor enough to not need permission from the city.

But don’t make assumptions here. Before you start any building or renovation projects, we encourage you to consult with a team of professionals to determine whether or not you’ll need a permit. If the answer is “no,” you can go ahead with your project at your own leisure.

Building permits are most often required when you’re creating a new structure or making significant changes to an existing building’s architecture. If it’s something like putting up a fence under six feet, installing a swing set, or putting in new carpet, you probably won’t have to go through the permit process. But it’s better to be safe than sorry, so be sure to make sure, just in case!



If you get caught overseeing illicit construction on your property, there are some hefty consequences. First off, the city of Houston will more than likely hit you with some heavy fees. Secondly, all the work you’ve done may be eligible to be torn down. It will cost you time, money, and incur a whole lot of stress.

Of course, the “if” in that first sentence is the keyword to some people — they figure it’s only an issue if they get caught. Well, we’ve got some bad news — you probably will.

Even if you get away with unauthorized construction, it will come back to haunt you when you sell the home. Buyers and building inspectors will ask to see the permits, and when you come up empty-handed, it’ll be time to pay up. Ostensibly, you may get away with it if you plan to live the rest of your life on your property, but why even risk it when obtaining a permit isn’t even difficult?



A big question that homeowners have is “who obtains the building permit?” It’s a task that has to be done, and it is, in fact, something you can do yourself.

However, going to the Houston Building Department is about as fun as going to the DMV. Nobody in their right minds ever wants to go to a government building. It’s a necessary evil, but it sure isn’t fun. Luckily, there’s a way to avoid this — depending on who you’re working with.

If you’re building a home or undergoing a major remodel, it’s typical to either go through an architectural firm to handle the whole job, or commissioning a team of floor plan designers who will then hand those plans over to a qualified building contractor.

The latter is what we do at Houston Plans and Permits, and in every job we take, there’s a contract that’s signed beforehand by both parties. You’ll want to pay attention to the contract you sign no matter who you’re working with. There is quite often a stipulation that dictates who will take care of the permit process, and more often than not, the builders and designers can take care of it.

Obtaining every necessary permit is one of our main services at Houston Plans and Permits. We can’t speak for every other company, but we’re more than happy to handle this job for you. Are you ready to start a new project? Do you need help securing permits for a job you’ve already started? We can help. 

Contact Houston Plans and Permits today!

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