If you are doing a construction project in your home, you will often need one or more permits. A “building permit” (sometimes called a “construction permit” or “work permit”) is a document from a local municipal office authorizing that work to proceed.
Such permit requirements typically reflect the fact that the government has an interest in ensuring that construction work is safe for all involved or who will be occupying the space, and that it proceeds under the supervision of a licensed professional. Some types of permits may require the signature or stamp of a state-licensed architect, engineer, or contractor.
The government also has an interest in minimizing any noise, disruption, or inconvenience to neighbors. For this reason, permit documents are temporary. You would not be granted an indefinite amount of time in which to complete a home renovation project. The time limitation is ordinarily prescribed based on the type of work being performed, its scope, and the local zoning requirements.
Each state has different periods for the expiration of permits. Indeed, even within a state, different cities and towns can enforce their own local codes. For example, in New York City, the Department of Buildings will issue permits based upon its own city-based code for renovations to homes. But in Nassau County (part of Long Island and also in New York State), the local government will enforce separate code requirements when issuing permits.
When you receive your permit, its expiration date will likely be clear on the face of the document itself. Whether you applied for the permit yourself, or your architect or contractor applied, you should make a clear notation in your own calendar of the permit expiration. Municipalities may enforce penalties against you, as the homeowner, for allowing work to proceed on your property under an expired permit. You may, however, be able to refile or apply to extend the permit.
Go to the main construction law FAQ page.