Answer YOUR clients questions regarding building permits! When do you need a building permit?

The answer is…. It depends!

The following blog was written with the experience and knowledge gained when dealing with Albany New York building & codes department. Other Building & Codes departments may slightly vary.

Quick Overview

The local Building and Codes department enforces NYS State and Local Codes in regards to new construction. Actually they enforce codes that cover various areas in regards to buildings a few of those being fire safety inspections (office buildings, restaurants), vacant buildings, ROP inspections (inspections required to rent property), Zoning (can you convert that single family into a 2 unit), but in this case let’s keep the material covered here to new construction, repairs and home remodeling.

All construction/alteration work to your home and or rental property must meet New York State Codes when completed. The New York State Building Codes consist of “laws” or “Codes” that your local carpenter, builder, plumber, hvac, electrician, architect, sprinkler installer, elevator installer and fire alarm installer must follow when work is done on your property.


The Building & Codes department is responsible for ensuring the building permits issued meet the requirements of the NYS Building Code. This is to ensure the safety of the public. Again if you reside in a city, town or village in New York State your work will have to be in compliance with New York State Building Code. Again this article is my interaction with the Albany NY Building & Codes Department.

Is a permit required?

Roofing, Sheet rocking & Siding

Some contractors will tell you that you do not need a permit because they are just replacing the shingles & not replacing the sheathing/plywood or rafters. THIS IS WRONG. All new roofing needs a permit. Even if you are just replacing the old shingles with new ones.

What if you are replacing a few shingles due to a leak?

Shingle replacement for a repair does not require a permit. Can you replace half of your roof and say it’s a repair? Probably not. Don’t push the envelope. These same rules apply to sheet rocking and siding.  Re-sheet rocking an entire room? Get a permit. Installing new siding on one side of your house? Get a permit. Repairs do not require a permit.  If you are touching the framing/insulation you will need a permit!


Pretty much all framing & Insulation needs a permit. The building inspector needs to inspect if the insulation is the right R-Value & the framing. If you replacing a few studs and or replacing a VERY small area of insulation you probably DO NOT. Again do you trust your contractor is installing the proper insulation/framing? A permit may cost you a few extra bucks but it will give you a peace of mind. Again new walls containing framing and or insulations will need a permit. I would also like to mention here if you plan on knocking down walls and or moving walls around you will need a permit and an engineer’s report! Never take down walls unless you have had a licensed engineer or architect take a look at the wall to make sure it is not supporting the floors above!

Stairs & Decks

Let’s start off with stairs. Pouring new concrete stairs requires a permit. The inspector looks at the rebar before the concrete pour and makes sure the rise and run are up to code. The inspectors also inspect the railing height and spindle spacing etc. Repairing a deteriorated concrete step and or re-parging the surface of the steps does not repair a permit.

Building front steps with wood/decking? A permit is required. The building inspector will look for the rise and run measurements, railing height, spindles, ledger board, toe plate, joist hangers etc.

The installation of a new deck requires a permit. The building inspector will inspect the footings, framing, ledger board, railing height, spindles, etc. A previous installed deck that requires a few decking boards due to rot does not require a permit. Replacing rotted or damaged spindles does not require a permit. Is your deck sagging due to poor footings? Well you will need to remove the old footing and pour new footings this requires a permit. The building inspector will want to inspect the footings to make sure they are 48″ deep. This is needed to prevent the deck from elevating during the frigid winter months when the frost line starts to move deep into the ground. Every location is different. In Albany NY and surrounding areas the frost line is 48″ deep. If you poured footings that extended 36″ deep and we have a deep freeze in the winter that brings the frost line down to 46 inches, your deck may elevate and or shift. This is why it is important to make sure your contractor pulls a permit so the building inspector will inspect the footings to verify they are 48 inches deep.

2 Story decks require stamped drawings from a licensed architect or engineer.

Painting, Tiling, flooring, carpeting

Painting, tiling, flooring, carpeting are all cosmetic and DOES NOT require a permit from the City of Albany. Interior & Exterior paint is regulated by the state of New York for the presence of lead. Before you start scraping please check the state website here for more info on the rules and regulations. Keep in mind if you own a historic home like the brownstones on Lark Street in Albany NY you will need to have the paint chips checked by historic (City of Albany Historic). Pretty much ANY work done on the exterior of a historic building will need to be reviewed by historic. Yes historic can & will tell you what you can do with the exterior of your property this includes but is not limited to painting, steps, parging, repointing, windows installation etc. Albany historic department can be found here.

Pools, Sheds, garages, additions

All of these need a permit! Additions & some garages will need architect and or engineer drawings accompanied with the permit application!


Bathroom fixtures replacement does not require a permit. If you are relocating and or installing a new sink, tub or shower than yes a permit is needed.

Kitchen Area

I have seen that a permit is needed for new cabinet installation. The replacement of a kitchen counter top does not require a permit. If you are installing new and or moving around any plumbing a permit is required. The repair of currently installed plumbing does not require a permit. Again a repair is not the entire kitchen line running to your kitchen sink from the basement. You have to use your judgment and any work that entails a good amount of work you should get a permit to make sure the work was done correctly.


Asbestos removal is regulated by the State of New York. I recommend doing some research before you hire someone to do asbestos abatement. Again New York State regulates this type of work. Check out the New York State website here.

If you ever have any questions regarding the permits for Albany NY you can always call down to the main office & ask. It’s better to be safe than sorry. The phone number is 518-434-5165.

The City of Albany’s Building & Codes departments website can be found here.

The New York State Codes are here. Take a quick look!

If you felt this blog was informative do not hesitate to share! If you have any questions please leave a comment below! Stay tuned & sign up for my blog notifications. Here is a list of my next topics I will touch on.

What is required when submitting a permit application? What documents are needed if you want to do the work on your own?

What work requires a licensed professional?

What is the inspector looking for?

What is the legal use of my property?

Exceptional Property Services is a locally owned renovation & remodeling company.



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Answer YOUR clients questions regarding building permits! When do you need a building permit?

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