Residential FAQ

RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION – Frequently Asked Questions

WHY do I need a permit?

When you obtain the proper permits for your construction work, you are protecting your home and family. The City of Nampa wants to ensure that your home is structurally sound, free of fire hazards and safe to occupy. Requiring permits provides a permanent record of the work performed and the inspections conducted on the project.

Homeowners are encouraged to request a conference with the inspector before starting work.

Can I do the work myself?

Homeowners may apply for building, mechanical, electrical or plumbing permits on their primary or secondary residence without registering as a contractor with the State of Idaho if you plan on living in the residence within 12 months after completion of the project. The owner must self perform all work under a homeowner's permit. If you’re not performing the work yourself (such as building, electrical, plumbing and mechanical work), the contractor performing the work must be a State of Idaho registered building contractor or a licensed sub-contractor in that trade and must pull permit a permit and perform the work.

Homeowners should require that contractors working for them obtain all necessary permits for the job.


  • Increased cost for obtaining a permit, increased permit fees, additional service fees, and possible criminal citations and fines.
  • Potential hazards including fire danger and drinking water contamination.
  • Removal of work may be required at the cost to the Homeowner or Builder.
  • Discovery of non-permitted work may delay the sale of your home, require permits, and may require the owner to bring the home into code compliance.
  • Homeowners or Property insurance may not cover issues that occur as a result of the non-permitted construction.

When do I need a PERMIT?

Building Permits

  • When building a one- or two-family dwelling
  • Finishing an attic, garage or basement to create living space
  • When building, demolishing or adding a room, garage or shed, carport or other attached structure
  • When building, demolishing or moving any detached shed that is more than 200 square feet in area (Structures of all sizes require a building permit and permanent foundation when hardwired for a 120 V electrical system).
  • Replacement of windows or door openings where the openings are reduced or enlarged, required structural modification to the header.
  • Move, remove or add walls
  • Re-roofing an existing structure, includes overlays and complete tear off and reroof of residential structures.
  • Retaining wall that is measured 4 feet high or more from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall or a 2 foot retaining wall that has a slope/surcharge (requires engineering)
  • Decks more than 12 inches high
  • Build a fence.
  • Patio covers, carport or porch, or enclose them or any other attached roof area
  • Sidewalks slabs and driveways more than 30 inches above adjacent grade or any story or basement
  • Replacing existing siding or stucco on an existing house.
Erosion Permit
An erosion and sediment control (ESC) permit is required whenever 10 cubic yards or more of earth is disturbed at a site. Contractors required to obtain an ESC permit must have an ESC Responsible Person Certification, homeowners performing the work are exempt from certification requirements.
  • foundations All buildings are required to have a foundation with the only exemption being for frost depth. Accessory buildings less than 600 sq. ft are not required to have foundations which extend to the 24” frost depth, but require a minimum 12” wide foundation to a minimum depth of 12” below grade.
  • garden shed A building permit is not required as long as the structure is 200 sq. ft. or less. A permit is required if the flood plain or if hard wired with an electrical system then a permit is required. Please confirm with Planning & Zoning regarding an accessory structure permit, setbacks, and easements.
  • kitchen/bathroom/interior The building code exempts interior work such as painting, floor covering, cabinets, counter tops and wall coverings from permit requirements. A permit is required if the project removes wall coverings to expose the framing; builds a wall or partition (whether bearing or nonbearing) or relocates sinks, tubs, showers or water closets which require plumbing
  • outdoor lighting An electrical permit is not required if the outdoor lighting is low voltage. A permit is required for 110 volt lighting.
  • Pergolas or Gazebos Standalone structures that exceed 200 square feet in area require a building permit. Gazebo/pergola type structures not of typical “light frame construction” and are treated as pole construction projects, requiring “structural engineering” by an Idaho licensed engineer. Height restrictions may apply in some areas