Permit requirements in DC

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Topic: Permit requirements in DC

Home and Garden January 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Permit requirements in DC


I’m a little unclear on when is a permit required for home repair/renovation work in DC. I’ve been told that replacing something (ie, a furnace or a water heater) doesn’t require a permit because it’s not changing anything. From looking at the DC gov website, it seems like a permit is only required for building/structural type work, but the whole thing about supplemental permits is unclear. Do you only need a supplemental permit (for replacing plumbing, gas lines, etc) if you have a building permit, or can you get them without a building permit? What kinds of typical homeowner issues do or don’t need permits?

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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.

DC requires homeowners to obtain permits for almost every conceivable home renovation project.  For example, a permit is required for “Erection of 1 Christmas tree stand on private property.”  Minor DIY projects can sometimes be done with a “postcard permit” that a homeowner can obtain for a small fee from the DCRA website (  These postcard permits available to homeowners amount to little more than a tax–because the work is never inspected.  But most permits can only be obtained by licensed contractors (e.g., furnace or water heater installation).  Licensed contractors have a few options, depending on the project.  Postcard permits and supplemental permits for many projects are available to licensed contractors on the DCRA website.


Thanks all, very helpful! Although they can’t possibly mean you need a permit to put a tree up in your own living room…

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