Do You Need A Permit To Replace An Exterior Door? (Find Out Now!)

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

Whether desiring an energy-efficient entry or just changing the look, replacing an exterior door makes a big impact. It can also be a relatively easy DIY project unless you need to start making structural changes. Depending on the extent of your replacement, you may or may not need a permit to replace an exterior door.

If swapping your existing door with one the same size, you won’t need a permit to replace an exterior door. However, if you plan to replace your door with a larger style or add sidelites, you’ll need a permit. When you make any changes to your home’s structure, such as cutting into a wall, you enter permit territory.

Still, when you plan any home improvement project, no matter how seemingly small, it’s worth checking local guidelines. Building codes vary from place to place, and as a responsible homeowner, it’s on you to know the details. If you need a permit, it’s always in your best interest to get one.

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Deciding If You Need A Permit To Replace An Exterior Door

Is your front door getting a bit worn-out looking, and you just want to replace it with an updated style? Maybe you want to select a door with more definition or a decorative glass window, but it’s the same size. In this case, you won’t need to worry about getting a permit for the work in most counties and states.

Also, simply changing out the door but not doing work to the frame can be an easy DIY task. If you end up removing the frame, you might decide to hire a pro, depending on your DIY comfort level. When the replacement involves removing the door and frame, check your local guidelines for permit requirements.

You still may not need a permit if the new frame and door fit within the same exact opening. But your chances of needing a permit could increase, especially if any cutting needs to happen to fit the new frame.

If you plan to install a larger door or add sidelites next to it, you will need a permit. This is because now your project involves making the opening larger. Once cutting into your house’s walls enters the equation, so does a permit.

You Might Need More Than One Permit

Additionally, if the larger opening ends up interfering with any plumbing or electrical, you’ll need more permits. There are separate permits for various tasks, so you could end up needing an electrical permit or plumbing permit.

Getting A Permit To Replace An Exterior Door

A call or visit to your local code office can get the ball rolling on your permit. If you’re using a contractor for the work, they will handle the permits. However, it’s your responsibility to make sure that they do so.

You’ll need to explain your project, including things like size, materials, and cost of the work. Then, you’ll fill out paperwork and need to pay a one-time permit fee.

The cost will vary based on your project’s details and your location. Building permits for basic construction jobs can cover a broad range from about $100 to over $1,000. After the job’s done, an inspector will make sure everything meets code and close the permit.

What If I Don’t Get A Permit To Replace An Exterior Door?

If you find out that you need a permit to replace an exterior door, it’s in your best interest. It’s tempting to skip the permit process to save some time and money. But failing to obtain a permit can end up adding more time, costs, and headaches to your project.

You might need to redo the work, a very likely scenario. You also will likely have to pay fines on top of paying for a permit. Plus, there’s typically a waiting period of two weeks or more.

Other Considerations For Replacing An Exterior Door

Sometimes, home improvements that don’t require a permit still might face some restrictions. For example, if you live in a neighborhood with a homeowners association (HOA), you might need to adhere to specific rules.

Many HOAs require a certain degree of conformity among their home’s exteriors. For example, they may want all the doors to have a window or exterior doors be the same color.

Check with your HOA about what types of doors you can get and have them approve the work before starting. Failing to do this might mean you end up paying costly HOA fines. Plus, you might also have to remove the new door and get a new one installed that meets the HOA’s guidelines.

If you live in a historic home, your local preservation society might stipulate you replace the door with a replica. Therefore, if you were hoping for a particular color or style, you could be out of luck.

Is Your Current Door Up To Code?

Another possibility, especially if you have a much older home, is your current door isn’t up to code. Exterior doors must meet certain guidelines. For example, every exterior door needs a stable landing on either side.

Plus, there are height requirements for any steps and between the landing and threshold. The door must also offer a clear opening of at least 32 inches wide and 78 inches tall.

So, it’s worthwhile considering the qualifications of your existing door. If for some reason, it doesn’t meet code, you might need to get a permit. Of course, you might also require a few structural changes to bring the doorway up to code.

This is another reason why it’s always worth checking about permits first. If you’re unsure what codes your door should meet, check your local county’s website.

You should be able to find documentation there that states all of the building codes for your area. If you’re still unsure, talk to a representative to get accurate information.

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Related Questions

Do you need permits to change or install interior doors?

Typically, you won’t need a permit to replace any interior doors. Also, if you’re adding a door in an opening, say the beginning of a hallway, you likely won’t need a permit.It’s always wise to check your local codes, though. But, usually, you don’t need an interior permit unless you’re doing specific tasks. These tasks include moving an interior wall, moving electrical or plumbing, or changing anything about an exterior wall.You’ll also need interior work permits for big jobs like kitchen or bath remodels. In some cases, you may need one for cutting into a wall and adding a new door inside. This is because where you cut might house plumbing or electrical that need moving. If this happens, you would need to get all of the proper permits (plumbing/electrical) before proceeding.

Do I need a permit to replace my windows?

Similar to replacing your exterior door, you won’t typically need a permanent to simply replace windows. However, you need to replace the windows with ones of the same size. If you plan to get larger windows and cut into the wall, you will need a permit. If you plan to add extra windows, no matter how small, you will need a permit. But, if no structural changes are necessary, you likely can proceed to replace windows without a permit. However, as with exterior doors, if you live somewhere with an HOA, you could have other rules to follow. So, do your research ahead of time and get all the facts before starting your renovation or repair.

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Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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