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Information you need to do building and remodeling projects right the first time and protect the safety and value of your home.

When do I need an plumbing permit?

Safety first
For your safety, your family's safety, and the safety of future occupants - and to avoid expensive mistakes - do not perform any electrical work that is beyond your skill level.
When do I need a permit for plumbing work?
Where do I get a permit for plumbing work?
How do I get an inspection?
Planning to do plumbing work on your one- or two-family dwelling?
When do I need a permit for plumbing work?

A plumbing permit is required for the following:

  • Replace water heaters and underground piping, alter piping inside a wall or ceiling, or beneath a floor, and for plumbing in all new installations.
  • Emergency repair, alteration, or replacement of freeze-damaged or leaking concealed piping, if new piping exceeds 5 feet.
  • Remodel or add on to your one- or two-family dwelling when existing plumbing is to be relocated. This includes installation of building sewers, water service, and exterior rain drains.

A plumbing permit is not required in the following circumstances:

  • When a property owner does "ordinary minor repairs" to plumbing systems on his or her own property, which means repair, replacement, or maintenance of existing accessible fixtures, parts, and appliances and their related water and drain attachments. Do not alter an existing plumbing system without a permit.
  • When a property owner or licensed plumber performs emergency repairs to, or replacement of, freeze-damaged or leaking concealed piping, provided new piping doesn't exceed 5 feet in length.

If you are not sure if you need a permit, call the building department responsible for your area.

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Where do I get a permit for plumbing work?

Permits are issued at Building Codes Division (BCD) field offices or your local building department, depending on the jurisdiction responsible for your area. In most cases, you'll complete a form, pay a fee, and get your permit. If a plumbing contractor is doing the work, it is the contractor's responsibility to get the permit and ensure that required inspections are done. The plumbing permit will be issued in the name of the party performing the work.

  • A plan or blueprint is usually not required for a one- or two-family dwelling permit.
  • Fees are based on the size and complexity of the job. Some local building departments base fees on the number of fixtures to be installed or the number of feet of piping for water, sewer, or rain drains.
  • A plumbing inspector or office staff member can discuss your project with you.
  • If you have the necessary information for the proposed project, you can usually leave with your permit.
  • Plumbing permit fees are paid when the permit is issued.
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How do I get an inspection?
If you are having the work done by a plumbing contractor, the contractor is required to notify the inspecting building department when the work is ready to be inspected. If you are doing your own work, you can call the building department responsible for your area to request an inspection.
If you have installed water piping, the work must be operational and exposed for inspection. Inspectors may require that drainage piping be plugged and filled with water for inspection. When you call, you will be asked for the permit number, homeowner's name, project address, type of inspection needed, and the date on which inspection is desired. Be prepared to furnish detailed directions to the job site. Unless all of the work is outside and accessible, an adult needs to be at the site to provide access for the inspector.
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Planning to do plumbing work on your one- or two-family dwelling?

As the owner of a one- or two-family dwelling, you can either hire a licensed plumbing
contractor or do the plumbing work yourself without a license. A friend, neighbor, tenant, general contractor, or other person cannot legally do the plumbing work unless he or she is a licensed plumber working on behalf of a licensed plumbing contractor.

All materials (pipe, pipe fittings, fixtures, and other devices used in plumbing systems) must be listed and approved for their specific uses. This is especially important when installing materials that come into contact with drinking water.

If you hire a plumbing contractor, ask for his or her business registration, and ask for the license number of any journeyman plumber performing work. Plumbing contractors must also be registered with the Construction Contractors Board, (503) 378-4621.

Lawn sprinklers may be installed only by licensed landscape contractors. Permits are required to connect lawn sprinklers to your building's water supply.

If you have questions concerning your eligibility to work on a building, call the Building Codes Division, (503) 378-4133 or (800) 422-7457, or your local jurisdiction.

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