you can see a comprehensive list and more here
contact me for a free reference to a licensed general contractor
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Flavio Tejada, MBA-Finance, Realtor, Broker/Owner
Things like painting, carpeting, landscaping etc thus are typically exempt.
Usually you have a licensed contractor or architect apply for the permit for you.They are also very experienced in doing so.
You could also apply for a permit as an "owner-builder" ,but you have to agree to do all the work yourself or either hire licensed subcontractors or workers who are your employees. Usually this is just for very simple projects.
Any structural remodeling, retaining walls over 30" etc require plans from a structural engineer, and on more complicated projects its wise to have an architect prepare plans.
If you do work without permits you have to disclose this when you sell the property, or you could be sued for fraud.
Knocking down a wall definitely requires a permit.
If it is a structural wall or bearing wall, you may need to consult with an engineer to make sure you do not weaken the building structurally.
Always deal with licensed and insured contractors with good reputations, as there are a lot of bad ones out there.
Let us know if you have any further questions on permits, contracts, etc
I have done a lot of projects in the city, the most recent being a year long down-to-the-studs renovation, and can help you with that, but it's probably better to do this over a phone call. In the meanwhile, here are the basics:
Any electrical, plumbing, or structural. And there are odd things you wouldn't expect to have to pull a permit for like changing countertops. Also, you need to know that something as simple as changing a countertop can trigger a lot of other things like plumbing and/or electrical upgrades, so you should have a good handle on what you're doing before you talk to the city.
Here's my info:
Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
King Realty Group