Do You Need Permits to Remodel a Bathroom in Kentucky?

Do You Need Permits to Remodel a Bathroom in Kentucky?

It’s easy to see why bathroom remodeling is one of the most sought-after home renovation projects. We demand a lot from our bathrooms! For a room that everyone spends time in, space-saving tubs, tub-to-shower conversions, faucets, and toilet upgrades improve our daily lives. However, building codes dictate how far changes can go before approval is required.

Read on to discover the answer to one of the common questions on homeowners’ minds: Do you need permits to remodel a bathroom?

When are permits required to remodel a bathroom?

The short answer is, that you’ll usually need permits to remodel a bathroom when you make changes to the plumbing, electrical, or structural components of your home. However, you can complete small changes involving aesthetics, such as painting rooms, repairing plaster, or refinishing floors, without requiring a permit. 

Generally speaking, you will need a permit for your bathroom remodeling project based on the scope of work and your local building codes. Here is a breakdown of the permitting codes for remodeling a bathroom in Kentucky:

Minor plumbing changes can be completed without a permit for a bathroom remodel, however, varying requirements are depending on the cities and counties across the state. For example, according to the 2018 Kentucky Residential Building Code R105.2:

“1. The stopping of leaks in drains, water, soil, waste, or vent pipe, provided, however, that if any concealed trap, drainpipe, water, soil, waste, or vent pipe becomes defective and it becomes necessary to remove and replace the same with new material, such work shall be considered as new work and a permit shall be obtained and inspection made as provided in this code”. 

“2. The clearing of stoppages or the repairing of leaks in pipes, valves, or fixtures and the removal and reinstallation of water closets, provided such repairs do not involve or require the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes, or fixtures.”

So, when making changes to the plumbing, leaving the valves and trap alone when you replace a faucet means you don’t need a permit. 


In contrast, minor electrical work in bathroom remodeling usually requires a permit. According to the 2018 Kentucky Residential Code R105.2 again:


“2. Reinstallation of attachment plug receptacles but not the outlets therefor.”                                                                                        

“3. Replacement of branch circuit overcurrent devices of the required capacity in the same location.”


If you’re adding new electrical outlets, your general contractor can walk you through it. 


So, while you don’t need a permit for plumbing when doing simple repairs and fixture replacement, a permit is required for electrical work. Beyond that, it’s considered remodeling; so, you’ll be dealing with permits, professionals, and more complexity. After the electrical work is completed, your subcontractor will need to schedule an inspection. Although the process is slow, there’s no need to worry: it is a clear path to plan a bathroom remodel, but the best method is to work with experienced professionals remodelers who know what they’re doing.



Construction in Fayette County, as well as the rest of Kentucky, is regulated by the Kentucky Building Code produced and promulgated by the state Department of Housing, Buildings, & Construction. So, if you reside in any other county be sure to reference the Kentucky Building Code. 



In the context of this article, bathroom remodeling includes the installation of a new bathtub and/or shower, a new sink, which may be freestanding or in cabinetry, and a new toilet. Partial and full renovations often start with simple changes, like a new faucet or new flooring. It then grows when people realize they truly dislike that bathroom and don’t need to live with it any longer. 

When undergoing any remodeling project, you should begin by creating a plan. That’s where your professional help comes in. For a project with any layout changes, you’ll need to work with an architect or residential designer. They will apply for a permit and ensure that the project meets requirements so you can achieve the bathroom of your dreams without stressing over legal details. Although professionals help you through the process, it is beneficial to keep in mind that it could take up to a month for a remodel permit, depending on the extent of work and the building. Historic buildings add another layer of complexity that’s topic for another post.


It is always best to let a licensed general contractor handle the remodeling work in your bathroom. At OH Design Lab, we have worked extensively with the best plumbing and electrical subcontractors in Lexington that can handle tasks like electrical upgrades, light fixture replacement, new plumbing drain line installation, and more. 


The condition and layout of your home in comparison to what you’re trying to achieve create a drastic variation in the extent of work involved. The easiest changes to make in your bathroom involve the sink and faucet: you don’t have to tear up a lot of the room and rebuild even with some plumbing changes.


It becomes much more complicated when you want to change the location of the toilet, bathtub, or shower. Supply lines for water run through the walls, floor, or ceiling, but drains have to fit into the floor space and then join the plumbing “stack” in the wall. This is the combination vent and drain system, and changing these parts can involve a lot of destruction before anything new can be installed. Another popular addition to bathrooms in recent years is bidets, and these require drain and supply lines. This type of work is routine for a seasoned plumber, but definitely must be conducted with care.


Aside from the toilet, replacing an existing bathtub is typically straightforward, despite being hard work, if you can reuse the existing drain and supply lines. Although it becomes slightly more complex when changing from a bathtub to a tub/shower or a walk-in shower, the difficulty is not substantial when maintaining the plumbing foundation.



Finding the right general contractor who understands your vision when designing a bathroom remodel is the best way to achieve the bathroom you truly want. During a site visit, you will receive professional help as you discover how to design the ideal features for your space and navigate the permit process. Remember, requirements vary depending on the extent of the work being done. When you’re ready to get started on your bathroom remodel, work with OH Design Lab to work with the best residential designers and contractors in Lexington, KY.


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