Reply To: Permit requirements in DC

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You will need a supplemental permit. Actually, a licensed contractor will need the permit, because water heaters and furnaces are not DIY in DC. 
You can get supplemental permits without a building permit.  Happens all the time for things like installation of gas stoves or water heaters.  DCRA’s website has pretty good information.  You can see that you don’t need a permit for certain replacements, such as doors and gutters, but water heaters aren’t among them.