You may be thinking about adding a deck to your home and what type of material your deck should be made of. Before you think any further, it is important that you add how your city wants your deck to be built, to your thoughts as well. Now the new thought on your mind might be “why do I need a permit for a simple deck?”, you may even go as far as attempting to build your deck without a permit.

If any of my assumptions are true, keep reading to know why your city is so bent on you getting a deck permit before building. Also, what consequences come with disobeying these regulations.

Why Does The City Want Me To Get A Permit For My Deck?

To Ensure Safety

Building a deck is one thing, building a deck that conforms to your city’s building code, that’s safe for you, is another. The building codes are there for the sole reason which is; yours and the city’s safety. Therefore, building outside the building codes might leave your deck unsafe for its occupants. Not to mention running the risk of having a deck that is vulnerable to natural occurrences like earthquakes and wind.

To Make Sure The Deck Construction Doesn’t Damage Your Home.

The construction of a deck for your home would involve the penetration of your home envelope. And if your deck’s construction does not follow your city’s building code, you run the risk of air, moisture, and water finding their way into your home.

Additionally, your home carries an additional load when a deck is attached to it. If necessary precautions are not taken, building a deck might compromise the structural stability of your home.

To avoid safety breaches, envelope discontinuity, and compromised structural integrity, the building code provides standards for deck construction. Your city requires that you follow these standards, to make that possible, they enforce permits requirements for deck construction.

What Are The Consequences Of Skipping A Deck Permit?

The number one consequence of skipping a deck permit is the possibility of safety issues arising in the long run. If your construction does not conform to the building codes and there is no chance for a building official inspecting your construction. You run the risk of building an unsafe deck.

If you live in areas susceptible to earthquakes, like California, your deck needs to be earthquake resistant. If you skip the building codes and do not seek the building officials to assess your design, your deck might not be seismic resistant and as such would be vulnerable to any seismic occurrence (earthquake).

Code-compliant guardrails and stairs are a prerequisite for any elevated structure. This way, the risk of falls and strangulation can be mitigated. Hence, contributing to the safety of your family and guests. Following the building codes and acquiring a permit will help your chance of keeping your family safe.

Let’s say you manage to survive an earthquake, an attached deck means additional loads for your home structure to carry. Constructing an attached deck without the supervision of building department officials or professionals, is risky. And it is so because you are not aware of the amount of load your home can carry, neither do you know how to safely perform the attachment.

After all is said and done, the very obvious consequence of building an unpermitted structure is being slapped with a stop-work order. In any case, you’ll face fines and need to apply for a permit, albeit forcefully.

Regardless of how far you may have gone on your deck construction, you may need to dismantle your construction for inspection. So there you have it, you can avoid all this by applying for a permit before construction.


As you would expect, the fines you’ll need to pay upon the discovery of your unpermitted work by building officials will be more than the standard permit fees.

Admittedly, you might get away with building an unpermitted deck. But you might need to sell your home someday. And by law, you must make your buyer aware of any unpermitted additions. Again, you might choose not to. However, real estate agents will ask for permitted drawings and will, therefore, spot the unpermitted addition.

What Do I Need To Get A Deck Permit?

So you want to get your deck permit, there are some requirements you must meet. Although most people believe that getting a permit is a tedious task, with the right direction and assistance, you’ll find it very easy. For decks that meet the local building adaptations, some local governments offer over the counter permits.

Requirements vary depending on your jurisdiction. You might need to call the building department of your jurisdiction to find out what you need. However, most requirements comprise of the following:

  • Application form, that includes;
    • Project location
    • Project description
    • Owner’s legal name
    • Contact information
    • Valuation of the proposed work, etc.
  • A site plan that shows;
    • Dimensioned view of the entire property
    • Property lines
    • Easements
    • Setbacks
    • Roads
    • Drainage
    • Existing structures
    • Retaining walls
    • Septic tanks
    • Streams
    • Proposed deck
  • Foundation and framing plan that shows;
    • Size of rafters
    • Spacing
    • Beams
    • Method of connection to the house and foundation
    • Type of foundation
    • Foundation materials

Please note that any drawing necessary must include;

  • Owner’s name
  • Name of the person preparing the drawings
  • Scale, and
  • North arrow.

Some jurisdictions require more drawings, and this can get confusing for you. To avoid delay in getting the permit, or design or drawing errors. Your best option is hiring a professional to help you sort out your deck permit.