Do You Need a Permit to Finish a Basement in New Jersey

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Permits are required in New Jersey for basement finishes involving removing or adding walls, altering plumbing, electrical changes, and creating a basement living suite.

You finally worked up the stamina and saved enough money to finish your basement in New Jersey. Your excitement begins as your construction plans get drawn up and your budget begins to take form. Depending on the type of finishing work you plan on doing in your basement, you might need to submit a building permit application in order to start your construction.

You might start feeling anxious and overwhelmed at this point, as is natural with filling out official application forms, but fear not as this article is your one-stop guide to everything you need to know about getting a New Jersey building permit for finishing your basement.

Permits Required for Work Involving…

You will need to apply for a building permit in New Jersey if your construction involves:

  • Tearing down existing walls or building new ones to create separation in the basement.
  • Making alterations to plumbing, such as adding new pipes, water heaters and the installation of any AC units or other HVAC systems.
  • Adding or changing any electrical wiring in the basement, including adding additional electrical outlets.
  • Making the basement into a mini-apartment where you will be installing ovens, washing machines, dryers and other machinery.

Related article: Can I Use a Basement Floor Drain for a Shower?

Required Permits and Where to Find Them

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Depending on how much work you are planning on doing during your renovation, you may need to apply for multiple permits in order to begin construction. All the permits that you might possibly need can be found on this government website.

  • First you will need to complete a detailed construction permit application form, which outlines the details of your project, including estimated costs and the contact details of all the professionals you will be hiring.
  • If you plan on making any electrical alterations or additions, you will need to complete the Electrical Sub-code Technical Section. This is a short, but detailed form, which includes all the information regarding the electrical components of your renovations.
  • When adding or altering any plumbing in your basement, you will need to fill out the Plumbing Sub-Code Technical Section that outlines exactly what changes you will be making.

Supplementary Documentation Required

With your completed permit application form, you will also need to submit additional documentation when applying for a building permit.

You will be required to attach two copies of your building plans to your application. These drawings must be extremely clear to ensure they are legible by the officials reviewing your application, and must contain the exact address where the building will take place.

The drawings need to be as in-depth as possible, showing the entire floor plan with indications of windows, doors, flooring, electrics and plumbing layouts, and stairways. They also need to show the exact dimensions of the entire space, including ceiling height.

You will also need to supply the municipality with the electrical and plumbing plans, which are in line with the city’s building codes.

How Much It Will Cost

When setting out your budget for your renovation project, you also need to make provisions for your permit fees.

When finishing your basement, you will need to pay a fee of $50 to the municipality in order for them to review your application.

You will also need to pay a separate amount depending on how much your entire renovation will cost. Making alterations to your basement will cost you $25 per every $1000 you plan on spending on your construction project.

If you happen to change contractors during your project, not only will you have to re-fill all your application forms with the new contractors details, you will also have to pay $50 per application that you have to change.

For a comprehensive breakdown of everything you can expect to pay according to how much work you will be doing, visit this website.

How Long Approval Will Take

From the moment you submit your applications and all necessary additional documentation, you can expect to wait up to three weeks to receive the outcome. This period is if you plan on making extensive changes to your basement, like making new walls or extending it.

However, with less extreme changes you can expect to receive your approval in as little as 7 days if all your applications and documentation is in order.

Regardless of how long the answer is taking, you do not want to start your finishes before you have received your permit. You can read why in my article on What Happens if I Finish My Basement Without a Permit. If you have already finished your basement, you might want to apply for a retroactive permit.


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