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Do I Need A Permit For An Air Conditioner Replacement?

Many homeowners associate building permits with large scale home improvement projects —like constructing a garage or replacing a roof. But in fact, many home projects 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.

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Permit For HVAC Replacement

You do need a permit for to replace your air conditioner or heater. Here is a list of common home improvements and whether or not they need a permit. 

Do I Need a Permit?
Do I Need A Permit?Answer
Installing a new air conditioning unit and systemYes
Replacing doors without altering the building’s structureNo
Building a garage or carportYes
Replacing a sink’s faucetNo
Repainting the houseNo
Installing a furnace (gas or electric)Yes
Install new flooringNo
Putting up a small fenceNo
Installing a fireplaceYes
Changing a countertopNo
Change in the design of heating, air conditioning, or electricalYes

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? 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 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.

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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.

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