The many editions of additions

Fenix

Member
Oct 30, 2023
18
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Did you know that there are many variations of what counts as an addition to a structure? Maybe you're like me, and you thought an addition was simply another room that was added to an already finished building, but that's too simplistic. Some states, like Pennsylvania, count decks as additions too, which means they also need a permit. This requirement is only triggered when the deck is over 30-inches off the ground or if it has a roof, but it never occurred to me that a deck would count as an addition at all. An anchored carport is another structure that falls under the addition rule. Even a child's playhouse can trigger the permit rules in some places.

It's a lot to take in and research. I can see now why many people opt to work with contractors, since they likely know the permitting rules and regulations in their given area.
 
Location
Pennsylvania, United States
I imagine there are permits for every type of addition you plan to make, whether it be a deck, a bedroom, a bathroom or any room. Whenever it comes to any type of work you do to your property where you intend to add an addition to the house, you will have to find the right permit.

Even a child's playhouse can trigger the permit rules in some places.
That reminds me, a friend of mine made a playhouse for his kids and was told they needed to get a permit for it. I think in some areas you're even required to have a permit for swing sets and other playground equipment.
 
Pretty much anything you do on your property that is a result of updating, repairing, adding, etc will require some form of permit. That much is a given. Each location of course will differ based on rules, but it's safe to say it's ideal to check with your local permitting office for what you can and can't do without a permit.

It's probably safer just reaching out first to see if a permit is required or not. And to see what permits may be required.
 
It's a lot to take in and research. I can see now why many people opt to work with contractors, since they likely know the permitting rules and regulations in their given area.

True, but you'll find that some contractors either don't pull permits for the types of additions you described or will give you the option (at extra cost) to have the permitting done. No one follows the law perfectly and you don't have to either when it comes to building code and your own property. I mean, no one follows the speed limit 100% of the time, right? And I'm probably not the only one who ignored those FBI warnings and copied VHS tapes in the 90s. Going slightly over the speed limit and deviating slightly from building code are similar in that they're technically illegal but are often innocuous. With this in mind, and because a lot of the decks people install are relatively simple structures, I think it's intuitive that a lot of folks aren't going out of their way to get bureaucracy involved. It's probably only when the deck becomes substantial enough (e.g., high enough off the ground), that most homeowners begin to see the prospect of forgoing a permit as representing a real risk to themselves or their loved ones, and act accordingly to ensure that all required permits and inspections get completed.

It's probably safer just reaching out first to see if a permit is required or not. And to see what permits may be required.

True, but a lot of people (and contractors) prefer living by the motto "it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission," and permitting is no exception!
 
Wow, I had no idea that the definition of an addition to a structure could vary so much. It's fascinating to learn that even something as simple as a deck or a playhouse can be considered an addition in certain states. The complexity of permit rules and regulations is definitely something to consider when undertaking any construction project. It makes sense why many people choose to work with contractors who have a better understanding of these requirements.
 
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