Patios are fantastic spots to relax and entertain. However, when a patio is wholly exposed to the elements, homeowners don’t get to use it as much as they’d like. That makes covering a patio so attractive, ensuring you’re shielded from the rain and shaded from the sun. But before you build a patio cover, you need to know the answer to a critical question: Do you need a permit for a patio cover?
Typically, you do need a permit for a patio cover. Most cities and municipalities require building permits for any structure that attaches to your home. That includes adding roofs to existing spaces, such as over your current patio. Detached patio covers can also require a permit.
Fortunately, getting a permit for a patio cover is relatively straightforward. If you’re considering covering your patio, here’s what you need to know.
- Do You Need a Permit for a Patio Cover?
- Patio Cover Code Requirements
- What Happens If You Build a Patio Cover Without a Permit?
- Patio Cover Permit Requirements
- How to Obtain a Permit for a Patio Cover
- Do You Need HOA Approval for Covering Your Patio?
- How Much Is a Permit for a Patio Cover?
- When Is a Building Permit for Patio Cover Not Required?
Do You Need a Permit for a Patio Cover?
Whether you’re covering a patio attached to your home or adding a permanent cover to a detached patio, you’ll need a permit. Permits for patio covers are necessary because the involved processes ensure the resulting structure is safe, secure, and properly constructed based on local building codes.
A building permit is also often necessary to make sure that your homeowner’s insurance covers the resulting structure. Since the permits ensure that the patio cover is correctly built, not having one may cause your insurer to not cover the structure. Additionally, any damage caused by the patio cover, even if the damage resulted from a typically covered incident, might not be covered.
Patio Cover Code Requirements
Patio cover code requirements vary by location, as each city or municipality can outline its rules. Since that’s the case, homeowners need to review local regulations before planning their patio cover build. That ensures they’re on the right side of the law well before any work begins.
However, most patio cover code requirements are highly similar. As a result, the information below can serve as a baseline.
When it comes to patio covers, there are usually two primary points homeowners need to ensure they follow. First, local governments typically outline a maximum height for the tallest point of the patio cover. This is usually set at or near 12 feet, though it may be different in some locations.
Second, municipal building codes often outline the minimum height of the lowest point of the patio cover. Again, the exact height can vary by location, but most rules usually list the minimum at or near 6 feet 8 inches high, ensuring safe access to the space.
Many patio cover building codes include a span chart, which dictates the dimensions of any supports. Essentially, the span dictates how robust the structural components must be to create a safe structure. Longer spans usually require larger dimension support components than smaller ones, as long spans put a higher load onto those materials.
Depths, Distances, and Diameters
Patio cover building codes typically include several points about required depths, distances, and diameters. For example, it usually outlines the maximum distance between beams or posts and the minimum diameter for the supporting elements. Additionally, it will state the minimum depth and diameter for support posts.
Building codes for patio covers may vary depending on the type of materials used to construct the patio cover. For example, some factors discussed above may have different minimum or maximum figures if you build the cover out of aluminum instead of wood.
The codes vary by material because each material has unique capabilities and characteristics. They’ll handle loads differently, and their weights will differ. As a result, the rules vary based on the materials involved to ensure that the resulting structure is safe.
When you’re attaching a structure to your home, building codes typically address tie-ins. These rules outline how a new build can safely connect to an existing structure.
For example, if your patio cover is essentially an extension of your existing roof, there are tie-in requirements in the building codes. Similarly, there are rules regarding how a patio cover is attached to a house, even if it’s not connecting directly to an existing roof.
What Happens If You Build a Patio Cover Without a Permit?
Building a patio cover without a permit is risky for several reasons. First, if your new build is discovered, you could face steep fines from the city or local government that oversees your area. The penalties can be steep, causing you to potentially spend more than getting a permit costs.
Second, if the patio cover build is discovered before completion, a stop-work order is often placed on the property. That prevents you from moving forward with the project until you complete any required steps, such as paying fines and securing permits.
In a worst-case scenario, city or municipal officials may require you to tear down an unpermitted patio cover. When that occurs, you aren’t reimbursed for the unpermitted build’s time, materials, or various expenses. Instead, any associated money is functionally wasted, and you can’t start over until you get a permit.
Another issue arises if you try to sell a property with an unpermitted patio cover. If buyers discover that the structure isn’t permitted, they’ll likely bypass the home in favor of other properties. Primarily, that’s because unpermitted work can cause them to lose their financing or homeowner’s insurance coverage, so most don’t want the hassle of dealing with unpermitted structures.
Patio Cover Permit Requirements
When preparing to get a patio cover permit, you may have some questions. “Can you file a permit yourself?” and “Is it better to do it yourself or use a licensed contractor?” are two of the more common ones.
Technically, you can get a patio cover permit on your own, but hiring an experienced contract does have its benefits. Licensed and insured contractors are often familiar with the process and local building codes, so they may be able to navigate the process faster.
Additionally, some municipalities may require do-it-yourself permit filers to take an exam before granting a permit, ensuring that the homeowner has the right degree of expertise before they begin.
Otherwise, the patio cover permit requirements are typically straightforward. You’ll need a detailed plan and drawing outlining the project and a full materials list. Additionally, you’ll have to outline the types of footings you’ll use.
Cities and municipalities may have other project details that they also require when you submit an application. As a result, you need to check local requirements before moving forward.
Finally, there is a fee associated with getting a building permit. Again, the exact cost can vary, but you’ll need to pay the required amount if you want your application processed.
How to Obtain a Permit for a Patio Cover
Obtaining a permit for a patio cover is reasonably straightforward. First, you’ll want to contact your local building permit office. Describe your project and confirm what application you need to complete and what supporting documentation is required.
Next, prepare your application and supporting documentation. Submit the application through the office’s online portal or using another method, such as mailing it in or scheduling a drop-off appointment. At the time of submittal, you’ll also need to pay the associated fee.
After that, you’ll need to wait for a response from the building permit office. How long that will take can vary by location, but you can request a timeline estimate when you submit your application or check online for typical timelines.
Make sure you don’t begin any work on your project until the permit is in hand. Additionally, once the permit is received, tap it to the inside of a nearby window, ensuring the information is readable outside through the glass so that local officials can easily confirm you have the required permit as your project progresses.
Do You Need HOA Approval for Covering Your Patio?
Whether you need HOA approval for a patio cover depends on any HOA rules that apply to your neighborhood. Some HOAs aren’t particularly restrictive, while others may have a lot of say regarding what homeowners in the area can do with their property.
Typically, it’s wise to contact an HOA representative before seeking a permit for your project. Find out whether approval is required or if there are any restrictions in place. For example, some HOAs may allow you to build a patio cover but might limit the types of materials a homeowner can use.
Failing to follow any HOA guidelines does come with penalties. Usually, it involves fines, and those fines can continue until a violating structure is removed. In a worst-case scenario, an HOA could file a lawsuit if the penalties go unpaid, and an unfavorable judgment could lead to more hardships, including foreclosure.
How Much Is a Permit for a Patio Cover?
Permit costs vary dramatically, so your location significantly determines how much you’ll have to pay. Additionally, local building departments may use a per-square-foot feet structure, causing permits for larger patio covers to cost more than smaller ones.
Generally speaking, the cost of a patio cover permit usually falls in the $225 to $500 range. However, it can be far higher in some states or cities, so check with your local building department to see what the permit will cost in your location.
When Is a Building Permit for Patio Cover Not Required?
There are some situations where building permits for patio covers aren’t required. Specific shade structures not made from solid materials like fabric covers may not need a permit. Similarly, non-permanent detached ones like pop-up canopies don’t require permits.
In some cases, permanent detached patio covers are also exempt. In these cases, there’s usually a maximum square footage for the covered area that determines if an exemption applies, and that can vary by location. As a result, you’ll need to check local building codes to see if a permit exemption could apply to your build and if there are any rules you need to follow.
Building a patio cover makes your outdoor space more usable, regardless of the weather. Just make sure to check local building requirements and secure the proper permit to avoid the hassles associated with an unpermitted project.
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