Do You Need a Permit to Install a Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are some of the best means of disposing of food waste; they’re convenient, quick, and hassle-free. Instead of throwing food into the trash can, garbage disposals grind the waste until it’s all shredded and gone, flushing it into a sewer.

Best of all, you won’t know you have one by looking at your sink since most garbage disposals are unobtrusive.

For many homeowners, installing a garbage disposal is imperative, but do you need a permit to install a garbage disposal?

The short answer is yes, you do need a permit for installing a garbage disposal. Anything that requires dramatic modification to your home will probably require a permit.

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Do You Need a Permit to Install a Garbage Disposal

Regarding residential construction, there are four types of permits you could get: building, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical permits. To install a garbage disposal, you need two permits: one electrical and one plumbing.

The type of appliances being replaced or added is under the responsibility of the trade to which they belong. A licensed electrician will file for electrical work, and a plumber will do the same for plumbing jobs.

Only an electrician can file for an electrical permit. The same goes for plumbers with regard to plumbing permits.

Note, however, that you don’t need a permit for replacing an already installed garbage disposal. A handyman can change your garbage disposal if it’s a straight replacement of the appliance.

It shouldn’t require any modifications; the fittings should all be code-approved, the power wiring should be no less than 12/2, and everything should be in its place.

Nevertheless, we’d recommend checking in with your local building inspector’s office to verify. Ask for the requirements in your local area, and check if your intended modifications fall under said requirements.

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Why Do You Need a Permit

Maybe you bought a house a while ago and now you want to do some remodeling. You may be thinking of redoing the kitchen, adding a shower stall, or installing a garbage disposal.

Whatever the case may be, it’s highly likely that any house remodeling will require a permit. Do you have to get the permit yourself, though, or can you simply contact the contractor to do it for you?

Permits are the building department’s way of making sure that your modifications are viable and safe, and so modifying certain aspects of your home without meeting the minimum requirements of health and safety can become problematic.

It can affect home insurance coverage. It can also be problematic for health-related reasons, so making sure you meet all the safety requirements is extremely critical.

As a general rule, if you erect, construct, alter, repair, remove, or demolish any structure, then you need a permit. It doesn’t matter whether a contractor or a homeowner is doing the work; a permit is required, nonetheless.

Is There an Instance Where a Permit Isn’t Required

There are multiple cases where you might not need a permit for doing work on your house. Luckily for you, these cases are precisely outlined in the Uniform Building Code (UBC).

A permit isn’t required for:

  • Fences over 6 feet high
  • One-story storage sheds less than 120 sq. ft.
  • Detached tool sheds less than 120 sq. ft.
  • Counters less than 5 fight high
  • Retaining walls less than 4 feet tall
  • Platforms
  • Driveways less than 30 inches above the ground
  • Changing a toilet
  • Changing a sink faucet
  • Changing a light fixture
  • Changing an electrical outlet

However, even if you don’t need a permit for any of the previous items, you still need to abide by any present codes.

Take vinyl windows, for example; some vinyl windows can be installed in multiple ways. You can replace them, or nail them on.

Now, installing nail-on windows requires cutting open the siding and exposing the stud. If this isn’t done properly, wall damage can easily happen. In this case, a permit is mandatory.

However, if you’re installing a replacement vinyl window, then you don’t need a permit. This is because these types of windows don’t require cutting into the exterior siding; the fin seals it to the exterior siding without disturbing the waterproofing membrane.

The specifications are very precise as well. Changing an electrical outlet, dishwasher, or light fixture may not need a permit, but adding or removing any of them does.

Additionally, adding/moving a sink, microwave, dishwasher, power outlet, or light fixture would need a permit.

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Who Can Obtain a Permit

Not anyone can obtain a permit. Only homeowners and licensed contractors can legally acquire permits. Emphasis on “licensed,” as unlicensed contractors can’t obtain permits.

If you’re a homeowner and you’re the one acquiring the permit, it’s a must that you do the work yourself. Licensed contractors are legally bound to obtain the permits themselves for any work they’re going to do, unless the work doesn’t need a permit, of course.

For a permit to be 100% complete, the work done needs to be inspected to ensure it’s in line with safety and health standards. If a rough and final inspection isn’t called for, the permit will become void.

When a permit becomes “void,” the work fails to be accepted by your local municipality. This means that you, as an owner, could face future liabilities.

If you still don’t know whether you need a permit for some modification, call your local building department and ask. Typically, your building department is supposed to provide you with printed information regarding their specific requirements.


While it might sound complicated to first-timers, acquiring a permit isn’t hard at all. The commonly misunderstood part is the question of whether you should get one or not.

Generally, permits aren’t required when performing usual maintenance to your home. We’d still recommend calling in your local inspector’s office and asking, though!

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