Many homeowners are surprised when they are told they need to get a permit in order to build a deck. It may seem like kind of a hassle but it is well worth the small investment of time and money to ensure your deck is built up to code standards and is in compliance with local regulations.
Building a deck without a permit can get you into some serious trouble. Some people find out the hard way by having to pay a hefty fine, tearing down their brand new deck, or having someone get hurt because of faulty construction. Building a deck without a permit can also come back to haunt you when it is time to sell your house. Contractors can lose their licenses if they build without permits.
The best option is to work within the rules and get a permit. In most cases the inspectors are very helpful and willing to work with you to make sure you end up with a great deck that meets all the code requirements.
Decks that are constructed more than 30-inches above adjacent grade would likely always require a permit. When decks are below 30-inches above grade, the answer is hardly consistent. The most recent edition of the International Residential Code exempts decks from permit when they are below the aforementioned height, not exceeding 200 square feet in area, not attached to the home and not serving the required exit door of the home. Considering those criteria…most decks will require permits.