Renovating your house is a great way to increase your home’s value. But if you’re not careful, your remodel could end up costing you more than just your renovation budget.

Even if a home improvement project seems minor, that project might require a permit. Permitting requirements vary depending on the scope of your renovation and where you live.

Unfortunately, obtaining a permit can be time-consuming, causing some homeowners to sidestep the permit process to get a head start on their remodel. But sidestepping the permit process is a mistake you don’t want to make.

What happens if I sidestep the permit process?

When you decide to build or remodel without a permit, you can end up facing a myriad of consequences. You could be fined, lose your insurance, or lose profits on your home.

According to the National Association of Realtors, if the proper permits aren’t on file during the inspection or appraisal process of your home, the sale of your home could be canceled. You could also be unable to refinance your mortgage.

Failing to file for the proper permits could also mean you’re out of luck if damage should occur or a catastrophe happens because of faulty work. Ultimately, the repercussions of sidestepping the permit process aren’t worth finishing a home improvement process early. You’ll only end up costing yourself more.

What home projects need a permit?

It can take several weeks to file a permit for your home improvement project whether you’re building a fence or installing new siding. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure that you actually need a permit for the project you’re taking on before you file.

To help you stay prepared, here are five home renovation projects that require a permit before you start building or demolishing anything:

  1. Fencing installation and repairs. Between 80% to 90% of the applications zoning committee experts in the U.S. receive are for outdoor privacy fences. It’s important to check with your city or town before you install or repair a fence to see if there’s a height restriction. There are certain fence heights that aren’t allowed, whether you’re in the city, suburbs, or country.
  2. Plumbing work. You’ll most likely need to submit a permit application when you’re installing or replacing plumbing like a sump pump. Sump pumps are usually installed for two reasons: the water table is above or equal to the foundation of the home or the basement is located in an area where frequent flooding is a problem. Plumbing installations or repairs can impact not only your drinking water and home but also the city’s water and areas around your house.
  3. Electrical work. Whether you’re installing or replacing electrical wiring, you’ll probably need a permit for electrical work. The cases where you won’t need a permit or inspection are typically only small projects like light fixture installations or repairs.
  4. Structural changes. If you’re among the 29% of Americans who provide care for an aged family member, make sure that you have a permit before you build that in-law suite. Structural changes to your home such as room additions, roof installations, and deck installations absolutely need a permit before you start construction.
  5. Siding installations or repairs. There are 15 different types of siding, and installations or repairs can create hazardous working conditions that require a permit. However, you don’t need a permit if all you’re doing is painting the outside of your home.

Whether you’re doing one of the five projects listed above or you’re taking on a different remodel, make sure to do your research to save yourself the time and money of having to stop or even undo your home improvement project because you don’t have the proper paperwork.