Do You Need a Building Permit to Replace Windows? Sacramento Building Permit Requirements

A couple years back, I had a friend who bought and installed new windows in his house himself, despite my warnings about the complexity of the work, the large margin of error, and the hazards of being inexperienced when working with glass. To my friend’s credit, he actually did a pretty decent job of installing his own windows. He did hours and hours of research, learned how to remove the old ones, and got the new ones set up without any major accidents. Unfortunately, he forgot to ask one key question: Do you need a building permit to replace windows? The answer, much to his chagrin, is that yes, yes you do per Sacramento County’s building permit requirements.

This is actually a common question among homeowners who are buying new windows, but it’s not a question that they always know they should be asking. And that’s a problem. When it comes to building codes and permit requirements, it’s imperative to know Sacramento County’s inside and out before starting any DIY work to improve your home. Even if you think you know all there is to know about this, my expert opinion is that you can always stand to know a bit more about why county building permits are required.

Think of preparing for your window replacement job like prepping for a test in school. Make sure you study, do your homework, and show up to the test prepared. Maybe you even need to call in a tutor, i.e. a window installation professional. If you do all that, chances are you’ll pass with flying colors and you’ll be enjoying the benefits of having new windows in no time. But first, familiarize yourself with what Sacramento County needs from you.

When Do You Need a Building Permit to Replace Windows in Sacramento

window replacement permits in SacramentoMy friend failed the window replacement test because he never expected questions about Sacramento County’s building permit requirements to be part of his grade. Let’s learn from his experience and start with the basics.

…there are two separate window replacement permits, and the type you need will depend on the nature of the home improvement job you’re tackling.

So, do you need a building permit to replace windows in Sacramento? Yes, but there are two separate window replacement permits, and the type you need will depend on the nature of the home improvement job you’re tackling. One permit is required for projects in which you are widening the structural width of the openings that your windows go into (maybe you’re adding bay or bow windows, or putting a window where there wasn’t one before), A separate permit is available for a more straightforward replacement job that leave the physical dimensions of your home’s surface intact, like if you’re finally installing double-pane windows to replace old single pane ones. Let’s take a look at each permit and how you can be absolutely certain you know which one you need:

  • Window Replacement (Retrofit) Permits: Retrofit is the word used by Sacramento County to indicate a job in which you’re simply having old windows replaced with new ones, without altering the size of the opening that they go into. The bad news here is that you’ll have to submit 10 separate forms to get this permit. But, the good news is that Sacramento County permits you to do all of it online. More on that later.
  • Window Replacement (Width of Opening Changes) Permits: This second type of permit is the one you need if your job calls for widening the space in which your new windows will go. This, obviously, is a more extensive job and because of that, you’ll have to submit the 10 necessary forms over the counter at a Sacramento County office.

Let’s take a look now at the logistics of obtaining the permits required for replacement windows in Sacramento.

Sacramento County Building Permit Requirements for Retrofit Windows

When my friend did his window project years ago, Sacramento County didn’t offer permits online, although he never even got that far. These days, it’s gotten much easier to do all you need to do in advance of the home improvement job right from your computer—for the retrofit window replacement permit anyway.

With Window Replacement (Retrofit) Permits, Sacramento County makes it easy for you, centralizing links to the forms you’ll need here. That’s not to say this process is one you should take lightly. You’ll still have to submit a total of 10 forms, all of which will require impeccable and accurate info, as well as a floor plan that shows window sizes and room designations. Bringing in an experienced window expert can help ensure that all of these forms have been sufficiently completed as part of the installation process.

Window Building Permit Requirements for Structural Change

When you’re making structural changes to your home, the permit process is a bit more extensive. For Window Replacement (Width of Opening Changes) Permits, there is also a centralized web page that will guide you in terms of what you need to submit, which you can find here. The main difference, though, is that you’ll have to go in person to turn your forms into Sacramento County. An experienced window expert is especially crucial when it comes to getting permits for this type of project, as more specific information will be required.

The county requires these permits to make sure your home stays structurally sound…

We’ve been talking a lot lately about how energy-efficient windows can save money on your power bill and about the signs that you need new windows, but the permit process is just as important, if not more so, in many ways, as it can determine whether or not your decision to buy new windows ever comes to fruition. The county requires these permits to make sure your home stays structurally sound, and to prevent you from inadvertently creating a construction hazard that could harm yourself or your family. So, read up on what you need to do, but don’t forget that experienced window specialists are your best resource for navigating the ins and outs of the permit process.

A professional installation means that you have an experienced pro handling your permits, who, chances are, has procured dozens of permits in the past and understands the Sacramento County building permit requirements. In addition, you guarantee that you won’t miss out any warranties, tax breaks for energy efficiency, or opportunities to ensure the structure of your home stays sound. In other words, the smart move is to get help from a window installation expert—you won’t regret it.

Information is your best resource when it comes to getting a permit for replacement windows in Sacramento County. Contact the professionals at Bell Brothers today to open a window into their years of knowledge.

Photo courtesy Unsplash user Olu Eletu