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Because the State of Michigan adopts building codes on a three year cycle, Michigan adopted a modified 2015 International Building Code on April 20th of this year. As a licensed contractor we are frequently asked whether certain types of work will require permits. To help clarify what does and does not require permit documentation, here is an excerpt from the current Building Code that describes the legal requirements:

       [A] 105.1

Required. Any owner or owner’s authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by this code, or to cause any such work to be performed, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit.


Since the above statement is very broad, they then clarify exemptions to the permit requirements, stated in Section 105.2:

(c) Mechanical permits shall not be required for any of the following:

(i) A portable gas heating appliance that has inputs of less than 30,000 Btu per hour.

(ii) Portable ventilation appliances and equipment.

(iii) Portable cooling unit.

(iv) Steam, hot water, or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment or appliances regulated by this code.

(v) Replacement of any minor part that does not alter the approval of equipment or an appliance or make such equipment or appliance unsafe.

(vi) A portable evaporative cooler.

(vii) Self-contained refrigeration systems that contain 10 pounds (4.5 kg) or less of refrigerant, or

that are actuated by motors of 1 horsepower (0.75 kW) or less.

(viii) Portable fuel cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.

(ix) An oil burner that does not require connection to a flue, such as an oil stove and a heater

equipped with a wick.

(x) A portable gas burner that has inputs of less than 30,000 Btu per hour.

(xi) When changing or relocating a gas meter or regulator, a permit is not required when installing gas piping which shall be limited to 10 feet in length and not more than 6 fittings.

(xii) When installing geothermal vertical closed loops under the supervision of a mechanical contractor licensed in HVAC as long as the company meets both the following:

(A) Has obtained a certificate of registration as a well-drilling contractor pursuant to part 127 of    the public health code.

(B) Has installed the geothermal vertical closed loops in accordance with the department

of environmental quality best practices regarding geothermal heat pump closed loops.


Exemption from the permit requirements of this code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for work to be done in violation of the provisions of this code or other laws or ordinances of this jurisdiction.


As a full mechanical contractor, we also pull permits for boiler, electrical, and plumbing work on a daily basis. Each code (building, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, energy, etc.) and its associated code enforcement authority adds nuance to how we ensure each project has all the permitting and inspection information needed for completion.

We work with municipalities, inspectors, as well as liability and workers compensation insurance carriers to best protect both ourselves and our clients. If you ever need help navigating the compliance maze we’d be happy to assist! Performing work without a permit leaves a company open to risk, however, following the process correctly means you never have to worry about an inspector or risk mitigation professional making an unexpected site visit.


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