Many homeowners associate large scale home improvement projects —like constructing a garage or replacing a roof— with building permits, but in fact, many home additions require city or county authorization. When it is time to replace your air conditioning unit with a new, energy efficient system, permits are a crucial step. Here is what you need to know ahead of your air conditioning replacement.

Table of Contents

Permits Are Important To An Air Conditioning Project

Building permits are designed to keep you, and everyone else involved in the process, safe. Projects that alter a building’s structure, use, or could create hazardous working conditions require a permit. Of course, that doesn’t mean every home improvement project you tackle will need paperwork.

Do I Need A Permit? Answer
Installing a new air conditioning unit and system Yes
Replacing doors without altering the building’s structure No
Building a garage or carport Yes
Replacing a sink’s faucet No
Repainting the house No
Installing a furnace (gas or electric) Yes
Install new flooring No
Putting up a small fence No
Installing a fireplace Yes
Changing a countertop No
Ductwork Yes
Change in the design of heating, air conditioning, or electrical Yes

Besides ensuring safety, filing necessary permits for home improvement projects means the homeowner will have a paper trail to break down the work that occurred. This is especially important if the homeowner plans on reselling. There’s also an environmental element when it comes to filing for air conditioning permits.

The main reason air conditioning permits are so important is that they guarantee that the equipment being installed in your home is up to par with the government’s energy efficiency standards. All air conditioning units are assigned SEER ratings (which stands for its seasonal energy efficiency ratio) which guarantee that the system is safe and environmentally friendly. During the permit process, the contractor must record how your home’s equipment makes the grade.

If you still have permit questions ahead of your home improvement project, we encourage you to:

  • Ask trusted sources (friends, family, and neighbors) if they’ve been through a similar process.
  • Contact your local permitting office.
  • Connect with trusted AC contractors in your area with Modernize.

Discuss Necessary Air Conditioner Permits With Your Contractor

As noted in our Modernize Contractor Checklist, it is important to discuss what permits are being acquired during your final contractor meeting. Your contractor should be able to provide paper trails for their:

    • Project plans
    • Proof of permits
    • Proof of insurance

Ask your contractor about state and local laws surrounding air conditioning permits. Often, contractors are required to be licensed or registered with the state to pull permits on the homeowners’ behalf. You can check on a contractor’s license through the Better Business Bureau. Modernize always recommends that homeowners use a licensed and vetted contractor for their home improvement project.

The Consequences Of Not Having A Permit

Permits are a vital part of the home improvement process, and proceeding without the proper documentation can result in penalties down the line. If code enforcement officials find work has been done without following due process, it could lead to fines and fees that the homeowner will have to pay for.

Additionally, if you sell your home, home inspectors may see the gaps between a new or replaced unit and raise concerns to the lack of correlating paperwork. This could result in backtracking, hiring additional contractors, and (if necessary) fixing the work: this time with the appropriate permits.  

Modernize encourages homeowners to discuss what permits are necessary to meet local and county standards with their preferred contractor. This will ensure projects are completed with the utmost care and safety.