One of the most exciting and rewarding things to do as a homeowner is to give your home a little face-lift. That empowering feeling of realization that your project is over, that you did it, after a long and costly process of remodeling, replacing or repairing is the stuff dreams are made of. We know that plumbing jobs are patience-testing feats that require planning, getting permits, hiring a trusted contractor (we don’t want to name-drop or anything, but…), and lots of time and money, so letting you know exactly what you will be getting yourself into before you have a project is something we think is equally as important as getting the job done when the time comes.
Every state in the country has a correct process that is required by resident and/or contractor when doing plumbing jobs in a residential home, and Texas is no different. The game changes depending on if you are doing things yourself (don’t get too excited just yet, Mr. Fix It) or if you have hired a contractor to get the job done for you, and the size and scope of the project you have in mind, of course. We talked to Mark McAvoy, Executive Director of the Houston Permitting Center, about the need-to-know when it comes to getting a plumbing project going in Houston- and how to do it right. Read on, y’all, this is important stuff!
When is a plumbing permit required?
It depends largely on the scope of the project. There are a few types of projects. If you are replacing existing residential fixtures, such as replacing a toilet that already existed with another toilet, then you don’t need a permit. If you are doing work to the plumbing itself, like to the sub-terrain or the piping that comes into the house, you are going to need a permit and possibly more than one.
“The requirement for a plumbing permit depends on the municipality where the job is taking place, each one has their own qualifications for when permits are needed,” said John Moore Services Senior Operations Manager Joe Bany. “If you live inside a city and pay your water bill to the city, then a permit is required, and if you pay a MUDD bill then you don’t need a permit.”
According to Bany, plumbing permits are very serious. John Moore Services has a dedicated permit clerk who is responsible for pulling permits, calling in for inspections, and insuring that all state codes are being followed. State law requires that certain jobs require permits because they have to be inspected to make sure the company is installing new fixtures, plumbing, and appliances in the home properly.
Can a resident perform plumbing projects without a contractor?
Typically for plumbing permits, a contractor is required — it’s state law. Homeowners can do certain types of things to their home without a permit, like replacing a toilet or removing sink fixtures and putting in new ones. As soon as you start going into permitted work that requires adding new things like another bathroom to the home or joining pipes, things like that, it typically requires a licensed plumber.
What else is required for residential plumbing projects?
Also, depending on the project, you may be required to submit plans. In some cases, you will be required to submit a set of plans that have to be approved prior to you getting the permit. In other cases, if it’s a simple change of a fixture such as extending a sink from location A to location B and adding five feet of piping to an existing system, then you will definitely not be required to submit plans, but just required to get the permit for that.
What kinds of projects require plans to be submitted before you get the actual permit?
It is required when you are branching off and creating new demand on the system. If you are going to add on a bathroom to your home, you definitely need to submit plans to do that. If you are adding a sprinkler system to your home, which doesn’t come directly into your home, you are still tapping into the water system, so plans will need to be submitted to do that.
Does the City of Houston send someone out to see how the project is going?
There is always an inspection. Anytime a permit is issued there is an inspection that is required on the back end of it to make sure that the project is done according to the city’s building code.
Of course, there have to be fees required in all of this.
There is a permit fee that is attached to every permit, plus an administrative fee that is attached to it as well. In order to pull a permit in any city, the company performing the work must have a state Responsible Master Plumber license, insurance, and they must be registered in the city they are doing work. Permit costs will vary depending on the company and the job that is being done.
Don’t Mess with Texas
As y’all can see, it’s no simple task to get the process going for that new bathroom you’ve always wanted with that state-of-the-art, self-cleaning toilet, or the new sprinkler system that takes a load off your mind when you are on that long-overdue vacation. Before your dreams come true, always make sure that your contractor, typically a Master Plumber, is licensed by the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners and is registered with the City of Houston. At John Moore, we make sure all of our plumbers have got this one down — no compromise! So we’ve got you covered.
Also, if you are required to submit plans, they need to have all dimensions and materials clearly indicated. But don’t worry — if you hire a contractor, he or she will take care of the technical stuff for you. And last, but not least, the City of Houston encourages all homeowners to call and ask for an inspector to come check things out before any pipes are covered and after all the work is complete even if an inspector has already come. Remember: don’t ever mess with Texas!