composite deck with wide multi-directional stairs

Do I Need a Permit to Build a Deck?

Published On: September 18th, 2022

If you are thinking about building a deck in the near future, there are a few things you will need to consider, one of which is whether you will require a permit to complete your project.

The answer to that question is usually yes. For most deck projects, you will need a permit, and it’s essential to check with your municipality to determine your obligations before your build.

Why do I need a permit to build a deck?

Although some may consider deck building to be a weekend DIY project, decks usually require a permit due to the construction requirements and their size. Getting a permit helps to ensure that you are complying with local building codes and that your deck will be safe and structurally sound.

Building a deck without a required permit could subject you to fines or even make it difficult to sell your home because of the unauthorized addition.

Are there any decks that don’t require permits?

Again, it is important to check with your municipality since rules can vary, but generally, decks with the following criteria do not require a permit:

  • Decks with an area of less than 100 square feet.
  • Decks below 24 inches above grade.
  • A deck that is not connected to your home.

How do I get a permit for my deck?

Depending on where you live the application may look different, but it usually involves the following steps:

  • Contact your municipalities building department and ask what documents you will need to submit with your application.
  • Submit two copies of your construction plan – (scale drawings of your deck along with descriptions of beams, joists, fasteners, and how you will install stairs, railings, etc.) You can create these drawings yourself, but it is often best to get a contractor to do these for you – even if you intend to build the deck yourself.
  • Submit a site plan – if you do not have this, you may have to ask your Building Department if they have a copy. If you still cannot locate a site plan, you may need to get a property survey or take measurements to show where the deck will be in relation to your property lines. The inspector will need to see that the deck complies with all zoning regulations.

Can a contractor help me get a permit?

Whether your deck is built by yourself or a contractor, it may still require a permit. Many contractors – including Hickory Dickory Decks, will go through the permit process for you, so that is one less worry for you. If you have any doubts, don’t be afraid to ask your contractor for a copy of the permit before they begin building.