Replacing or adding new windows can be an exciting time for homeowners. But the process can also lead to a list of questions like “when’s the best time of year to do this?” or “is a permit necessary?” When it’s time to put in new windows, permits are an important step. Here is what you need to know.

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Permits Are Important To A Window Project

Building permits exist so that you, and everyone else involved in the process, are kept safe. Window permits guarantee that a home has proper ventilation, that the window is accessible by first responders in case there’s an emergency, that a home’s weather barrier is maintained, and that the windows and installation are energy efficient.

Many state codes are mandating that new window installations meet energy efficiency standards. But besides minimizing a carbon footprint, those windows can save a homeowner money, too. The Department of Energy estimates that you can save up to $465 a year by upgrading to Energy Star rated windows.  

Pulling a window permit for your home’s installation ensures that the work will be done to code. If you’re replacing your doors or windows without altering the structure, you may not need a window permit. Whether a home improvement project requires a permit or not depends on a multitude of factors. Here’s a quick review:

Project Do I Need A Permit?
Replacing windows/doors without altering the structure Most likely no
Installing new floor coverings No
Installing new windows bigger than the old ones Yes
Altering a home’s roofline (ex. changing a slope) Yes
Changing a countertop No
Adding a skylight Yes
Installing windows in a new spot Yes
Small roof repairs, less than one roofing square (100 square feet) No

A good rule of thumb is anything that requires a hole to be cut is going to need window permits. This applies to skylights and new doors with windows as well. If the structure isn’t going to be altered, you probably don’t need a permit, but Modernize recommends discussing with your preferred contractor— just to be safe.

If you’re still not sure whether your project will need a permit, 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 window contractors in your area with Modernize.

Discuss Necessary Window Permits With Your Contractor

As noted in our Modernize Contractor Checklist, it is important to discuss what window 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

The Consequences Of Not Having Window Permits

There’s too much on the line when it comes to safety with window installation, and permits play a big role. Besides providing natural lighting, properly installed windows are vital for a home’s ventilation and accessibility. If a window is retrofitted the wrong way, it could lead to an ill-maintained weather barrier, which protects from water seepage, mold, and structural damage.

And of course, properly installed windows mean the chance to save money down the line when they’re energy efficient. Modernize encourages homeowners to discuss window permit options and procedures with their contractor to ensure safety.