Homeowner's Guide to Residential Construction

Man standing in front of his house holding a ladder and a hammer

Why do I need a permit?

When you get the proper permits for your construction work, you are protecting your home and family. The City of Boise wants to ensure that your home is structurally sound, free of fire hazards and safe to occupy. Requiring permits provides a permanent record of the work performed and the inspections conducted on the project.

Can I do the work myself?

Homeowners may perform work on their primary residence without registering as a contractor with the State of Idaho.

  • If you act as the sub-contractor on your project, you must get a permit for the work and perform the work yourself.
  • If you’re not doing all of the work yourself (such as electrical, plumbing or mechanical work), the person performing the work must be a State of Idaho registered and licensed contractor in that trade.

Download Brochure (PDF)

Required Permits


  • Install or change any part of a heating or cooling system
  • Installation or alteration of ductwork, vent system or chimney
  • Install a wood stove, fireplace insert or gas fireplace
  • Install, alter or repair gas piping between meter and an appliance (indoor or outdoors)
  • Install a fuel oil tank
  • Exhaust bath fans or dryer vents
  • Learn More


  • Install, change or repair any hard wired electrical system
  • Run any additional wiring, put in an additional electrical outlet or light fixture or change out your fuse box to circuit breakers.
  • Add an outlet or switch in any room
  • Learn More


  • Repair, replace, relocate or add to the piping system within your home
  • Install new plumbing fixtures such as toilets, sinks, showers, tubs, dishwashers, etc.
  • Install or replace a water heater
  • Replace existing fixtures if concealed plumbing is required
  • Replumb pipes
  • Learn More


  • New one or two family dwelling, Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) or detached garage
  • Residential additions or improvements greater than 500 square feet disturbance and/or excavating greater than 10 cubic yards (includes swimming pools)
  • Learn More


  • Build a one or two family dwelling
  • Finish an attic, garage or basement to create living space
  • Build, demolish or add a room, garage or shed, carport or other attached structure
  • Build, demolish or move any detached garage or shed that is more than 200 square feet in area
  • New, replacement windows or door openings, widen or reduce the size of existing openings
  • Move, remove or add walls
  • Re-roof an existing structure
  • Build a retaining wall that is measured 4 feet high or more from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall or a 2 foot retaining wall that has a slope/surcharge (requires engineering)
  • Build a deck more than 12 inches high; or put up a fence more than seven feet high
  • Construct/add patio cover, carport or porch, or enclose them or any other attached roof area
  • Pour sidewalks slabs and driveways more than 30 inches above adjacent grade or any story or basement

Currently Enforced Codes

When do I need a Building Permit?


A building permit is required when the wooden deck or concrete patio is more than 12 inches above grade.


An erosion and sediment control (ESC) permit is required whenever 10 cubic yards or more of earth is disturbed at a site. Contractors required to obtain an ESC permit must have an ESC Responsible Person Certification, homeowners doing the work are exempt from certification requirements.


No building permit is required, but you need Planning and Zoning approval. Call (208) 608-7100.


Structures over 400 sq. ft. other than light frame construction and buildings more than 600 sq. ft. of light frame construction, require a foundation to frost depth. Boise’s frost depth is 24 inches minimum below grade.


If located in a flood plain a permit IS required. A building permit is not required as long as the structure is 200 sq. ft. or less. If the structure is over 120 sq. ft. (and less than 200 sq. ft.), you need to confirm your property setbacks with the Planning division.


Building permit requirements are the same as in non-historic districts. However, many types of work (windows, siding and tree removal) require a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Planning division. The certificate must be obtained prior to applying for a building permit or starting any work.


The building code exempts interior work such as painting, floor covering, cabinets, counter tops and wall coverings from permit requirements. A permit is required if the project removes wall coverings to expose the framing; builds a wall or partition (whether bearing or non-bearing) or relocates sinks, tubs, showers or water closets which require plumbing.


An electrical permit is not required if the outdoor lighting is low voltage. A permit is required for 110 volt lighting.


Stand-alone structures that exceed 200 square feet in area require a building permit. Gazebo/pergola type structures are usually not of typical “light frame construction” and are treated as pole construction projects that require “structural engineering” done by an Idaho licensed engineer. Height restrictions may apply in some areas.


A permit is required, as added weight will be transferred to the dwelling’s exterior wall. The framing should be checked for allowable spans for beams/rafters/support posts and there may be beams/supporting columns which require concrete footings for frost protection. We must also verify the design to provide wind stability (lateral loading).


If you’re not sure if your project requires a permit, please call (208) 608-7070.


  • Plumbing permits are required for most bathroom remodels when fixtures are replaced.
  • Electrical permits are required when electrical fixtures are added (such as the required smoke alarms when a building permit is required).
  • Mechanical permits are required when vents and ducts are added, replaced or relocated. This includes dryer vents, range hood vents and extending heating ducts, adding registers and replacing furnaces and air conditioning units.

Download Brochure (PDF)

Can I perform the work myself?

  • If a Permit is Required: If a permit is required and you act as the sub-contractor on your project, you must get a permit for the work and physically perform the work yourself.
  • Apply Online: Homeowners can use our online permitting and licensing system to pull trade permits (plumbing, electrical and mechanical) or permits for a fence, roof, windows or siding. Use the wizard to select the appropriate permits, apply online, schedule inspections and pay permit fees. Just set up an account to get started. | Permitting and Licensing System
  • Homeowner Consultation: Once a permit is issued, please feel free to request a consultation prior to beginning work from our plumbing and mechanical inspectors. This visit can result in saving time and money. We are happy to assist you.
  • Licensed Contractor: If you're not doing all of the work yourself (such as electrical, plumbing or mechanical work), the person performing the work must be a State of Idaho registered and licensed contractor in that trade. | Search for a Licensed Contractor
  • Building Codes:

Building Permits

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