DIY construction projects allow you to customize your home in ways that you can take pride in your work while being cost-efficient. While it can be tempting to construct and remodel certain parts of your home, you need to be mindful of any projects that can alter the square footage and structural integrity of your space such as pouring concrete.
Needing a permit to pour concrete in your backyard depends on a few factors such as zoning bylaws, building and safety regulations, and design plans. Regardless of your concrete project, it is best to check your local and state construction regulations to maintain safety and avoid fines.
If you fail to obtain the correct permits, you could be fined heavily for illegal construction projects or making changes to your property that are not in line with the laws of your geographic location.
Can You Pour Your Own Concrete in Your Backyard?
Typically, you can pour your own concrete in your backyard as long as you follow municipal rules and regulations around construction projects and file for the correct permits when needed. The amount of money saved on pouring one’s own concrete versus the cost of hiring a contractor is an alluring factor.
However, there are perks to hiring experienced contractors to pour concrete for your projects. Not only are they more likely to have experience working with concrete itself, but reputable contractors will obtain any necessary permits before beginning any project, saving you the time and hassle of making sure you have the correct permits.
How Do You Know When You Need a Permit for Pouring Concrete?
Determining whether or not you need permits for pouring concrete can depend heavily on your city’s zoning and construction regulations. As a general rule of thumb, small jobs that require concrete, like fence post footings, concrete filler in small cracks, or small concrete pads that do not alter your property significantly can possibly be done without a permit.
It is still best to check your city’s laws and regulations to avoid any fines when doing any concrete-related work on your property. For larger tasks such as pouring concrete for structural foundations, numerous walkway pads, parking pads, etc.… you will likely need a permit.
More specifically, if your project is considered above-grade; that is 30 inches above adjacent grade, you will likely need a permit. If the site is over 200 square feet, you will also need a license to pour concrete. Permits will also be required if the area you pour concrete on is considered an environmental protection zone according to your municipality’s zoning bylaws.
Do Certain States have Different Permit Rules for Concrete?
The rules and regulations for pouring concrete can vary by state based on building safety, zoning, and environmental necessities in each state. It is best to check your local and state guidelines before starting any concrete project.
Texas has strict rules for pouring concrete for home projects for which permits must be obtained. The application for the permit needs to include site plans showing the proposed location, detailed frame and elevation drawings (of sheds and patios for example), and whether or not your final structure will be portable or set into a concrete slab.
If you will be using a concrete slab, an authorized inspection must take place before any concrete is poured and can also include framing inspections, and final inspections.
In California, a building permit is not required when pouring concrete for platforms, walkways, and driveways that are not more than 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story below.
Conversely, the state of New York does not govern slabs of concrete unless they transmit vertical loads or lateral forces from other parts of the structure to the soil. Regulations in New York focus more on the strength and weight load of the concrete.
If concrete pouring is for structural purposes, usually a permit is required however if it is for smaller repairs, a permit may not be required as outlined in this document.
Does the Contractor Get the Permit or Does the Homeowner?
As a homeowner, if you will be conducting your construction project and pouring concrete yourself, you will need to be the one who obtains the permit. If you hire a contractor, they will be responsible for obtaining permits prior to doing any construction or concrete pouring however, this does not absolve you of any consequences faced if the correct permits are not obtained by your contractors.
While it is the responsibility of the contractor to obtain the permit, it is still your duty as a homeowner to ensure the contractors you hire have obtained all necessary permits to avoid fines later on.
What Happens if No Permit is Obtained?
While it can vary from state to state, the consequences of not obtaining a permit can be costly to you as a homeowner. These consequences also apply if you hired a contractor who did not obtain the necessary permits before commencing work as well.
You may be subject to citations, hefty fines, and retroactive permit costs. Lack of proper permits can also impact the resale value of your home including difficulty financing and insuring it.
Likewise, if you pour concrete in a way that it reaches your neighbor’s property line or causes damage to their property, they can press charges against you.
What’s the Point of Getting a Permit?
While applying for permits and submitting structural plans for your projects seems tedious and overwhelming, it is always best to check and obtain any necessary permits. Doing so can ensure that your property stays in line with zoning and environmental guidelines. Most importantly, permits are in place to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
For example, permits and building plans can provide insight for any further precautionary work needed like marking underground pipes and gas lines. Pouring concrete over an area that would cover your basement can also pose a structural safety risk and needs to be thoroughly assessed.
How Close to my Property Line Can I Pour Concrete?
How close you can pour concrete to your property line depends on the zoning bylaws in your city. You may also want to check provincial and state guidelines for a broader understanding of zoning and building bylaws in your area.
Usually, pouring concrete in relation to your property line depends on the function of the concrete. If you are creating a walkway, typically you can pour concrete right up to your property line.
If you are pouring concrete for a backyard patio, you should not pour concrete less than 18 inches from your side of the property line and no less than 15 inches from a rear property line. Keep in mind that these are general estimates and you should verify these specs with your local bylaws.
For large concrete pouring tasks such as parking pads or covering most of your backyard, you will most likely need permits and need to reach out to your city bylaw officials to verify this. They may also need to send inspectors to mark any gas lines or pipes if your project requires the ground to be dug up in any way.
Is a Concrete Patio Considered a Structure?
Patios tend to be one of the least restricted projects around your home. Patios tend to sit on the ground, remain unobtrusive to neighbors, and do not require railings. In this sense, patios are not treated like conventional structures but there are some rules and regulations to keep in mind.
If you are building a new patio, you will be required to obtain zoning and building permits that can determine whether or not your patio can be enclosed along with its maximum potential size.
When you are pouring concrete for a patio, the concrete may not need a permit if it is less than 30 inches above grade. If it is 30 inches or more above grade, you will likely need a permit before pouring concrete.
What if I am Pouring a Concrete Driveway, Do I Need a Permit?
If you are pouring a concrete driveway, the height of the concrete is also important in determining whether or not you will need a permit. The limit for concrete driveways is only 18 inches above grade for which you will need a permit.
The width of a concrete driveway is usually restricted to 18 feet, except for turnarounds right in front of your garage. If your new driveway passes directly over your basement or lower story of your home or surrounding buildings, you will need inspections and permits from your local building authorities to ensure the safety and structural integrity of your project.
Again, these specific measurements can vary, so it is best to check with your local building and zoning bylaws for specifics related to your geographic location.
The Verdict – Do I Need a Permit?
Knowing whether or not you need a permit for pouring concrete can be tricky. Specifications can vary across provinces and states which adds to the confusion however, the takeaway from this guide should be to always double-check with your local and state building bylaws to avoid any potential fines and safety hazards from your concrete projects.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.