Recently, we wrote a blog post about what permits were needed to renovate a bathroom in Montgomery County:  Several of our readers asked us to do the same for a Washington DC Remodel.

Much like kitchens, even simple projects for DC bathroom contractors require a permit.  As a general rule, if you are updating plumbing and electrical, or changing the layout and framing in a bathroom (whether it is a powder bath addition, a simple pull and replace, or a master bath remodel) a permit should be obtained.

To begin with, create a set of architectural drawings.  If you are adventurous and enjoy design, you can do them yourself.  If you decide to go this route, make sure you include a demolition plan, a proposed plan and elevations as necessary.  (These are only required if you need to illustrate structural changes, or if you feel you need to illustrate the layout – the plan reviewers don’t care what color tile you are putting on the walls).  You should also include an electrical plan (outlets should be GFCI’s,) and a plumbing riser diagram if you are adding fixtures.

If you have the budget, or feel you need design expertise, you can hire a reputable design build remodeling contractor or architect.  Interview them to make sure they are licensed in Washington DC and talk to three references.  Ask to see samples of previous bathrooms they have designed.

Once your plans are finished, fill out the permit application and supplemental documents available at  and take everything down to the DCRA department of Permitting at 1100 4th Street SW 
Washington, DC 20024.  If it is a small to medium sized renovation, you should be able to walk your permit through in a few hours.

We find that you get the quickest service if you show up a few minutes before they open, and get in line to be one of the first in the door.  You will pick up a number at the intake desk, and proceed from desk to desk as your number is called until all the trades have signed off on the plans.  Then you are ready to pay the cashier (bring a Master card, Visa card, or a check – they do not take American Express), pay for your building permit, and pick it up at issuance.

Now you are ready to begin your bathroom renovation in Washington DC.  You will need to call for close in and final inspections during and at the end of the project.  You can choose to use DC inspectors, or turn to an accredited third party inspection agency, which will cost extra.  If you are using a licensed remodeling firm, they should be able to take care of the whole process for you.

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