Do You Need a Permit to Finish a Basement in Ohio

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Ohio requires a building, plumbing and an electrical permit when finishing a basement. At least $200 should be budgeted for the permits, and they take around 14 days to be approved or denied.

Finishing your basement can be a huge job. From creating a budget to hiring contractors, it can take a lot of time and effort. Sometimes there is more to a construction project than just securing tools and materials. Depending on your state and city’s laws and regulations, you may be required to apply for a building permit before you start construction.

A building permit is basically a declaration that your project has been deemed safe and up to code. Finishing your basement without obtaining a permit first can have quite serious consequences (this is a widely applicable issue as most areas require a permit for finishing basements). If you live in Ohio and want to finish your basement, then this article is your guide to the permit process you will have to go through.

Ohio Requires a Building Permit

The state of Ohio states that any renovations that involve structural alternations or additions, as well as most plumbing or electrical work require a permit. However, smaller alterations and upgrades don’t usually need one, including things like creating a sectioned-off root cellar in your basement (provided you don’t run new wiring).

If you want to finish a basement in Ohio (and plan on doing some heavy plumbing and electrical work) you are definitely going to need to acquire a building permit.

City/County Building Department Issues Permits

Now that we have established that you are going to need a permit for your basement finishing, let’s get on to the specifics.

In Ohio, you will need to go to or contact the Building Department in your specific municipality. This is because even though Ohio has its rules and regulations, each city and county can also vary when it comes to its specific codes and bylaws.

Apply Before You Start

In order to avoid fines, penalties, and other consequences that working without a valid building permit brings, you will need to apply for a permit before you start with construction.

What Happens if I Don’t?

If you fail to get a permit before you start construction, you could be looking at attaining hefty fines and penalties. You will likely have to pay the minimum of what your building permit would have cost, as well as any administration fees.

Depending on when the office was notified of your construction, you will have to pay anything from $100 plus an additional quarter of your permit fee as a fine.

You will also be subject to be inspected by city officials so that they can determine if your construction complies with health and safety protocols and regulations. This could mean you have to stop with your construction while the inspection occurs—costing you time and money for additional days with your trades.

You might even be required to remove some of your finishes for the inspector to evaluate the project thoroughly, leaving you with the bill of redoing your work.

If you are looking for a resource on how to obtain a retroactive permit, you can check out How to Get Permit for Already Finished Basement.

Permit Application Requirements

Building permit Written on Blue Key of Metallic Keyboard. Finger pressing key.

You will first need to fill out the required applications as set out by your city or county’s Building Office. These can either be found in hard copy at the specific office, but most cities allow you to access and even submit the applications online.

This is the website where you can find the permit applications and other necessary information.

Once you have filled out the applications, you will need to gather certain additional supporting documents that need to be submitted as well. These documents include two sets of extremely detailed, legible plans which must indicate:

  • Precise measurements of ceiling heights.
  • Door and window dimensions and locations.
  • Locations of fire alarms and smoke detectors.
  • Locations and dimensions of any electrical wiring, outlets, or appliances clearly indicated.
  • Precise locations and dimensions of HVAC system.
  • The location and dimensions of any plumbing system and additions.

Along with the above, you will also be required to pay specific fees for the necessary permits that your construction project may require, as seen in the next section.

Cost and Turnaround Times for Permits

You need to budget at least $200 for your initial permits to begin construction. Below you can find a basic breakdown of what the estimated costs will be for the necessary building permits.

General Building Permit Fee for Alterations/Remodeling$50
Permit for Electrical Work$75-$150
Permit for HVAC Work$75-$200

Once you have submitted your application, the additional documents, and paid your required fees, the building department will need to evaluate your application for any faults or potential risks. You can expect to receive feedback on the outcome of your application about two weeks after you submit it.

You cannot begin construction until your applications have been approved and you receive your permits.


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