Replacing a ceiling-mounted light fixture with a ceiling fan is a fairly simple do-it-yourself job: You just need a drywall saw, some screws, a new electrical box that’s sturdy enough to support the weight of the fan, a bit of adhesive and your fan kit.
Plus, you’ll need a city building permit.
That’s right. Phoenix, Tucson and most other cities want to know when you’re replacing a light fixture with a ceiling fan so they can send an inspector over to make sure you’re not trying to hang the fan from a box designed to support the considerably lighter weight of a simple, stationary light fixture rather than a heavy, vibrating fan. The permit will cost you around $75 or $100, depending where you live, and the inspector could save you from becoming the victim of a poorly anchored fan that lands on your bed while you’re sleeping in it.
In fact, you’re supposed to get a city permit whenever you work on the electricity, plumbing or structure of your house.
When you replace your water heater, you’re supposed to get a permit. Before you put up a fence in your yard, you need a permit. If you build a retaining wall, you need a permit. When you replace all of your roof shingles or reroof over old shingles for the third time, you need a permit.
You need a permit if you change the location of a toilet, sink or tub. You’re supposed to get one before you convert your carport or patio to an enclosed room or garage. If you add electrical outlets, change a window to a door, replace a small window with a bigger one, remove or move a wall inside your house or alter your driveway, you need a permit.
And, of course, if you add a room to your home, install a pool or do other major construction, you’ll need a permit.
It doesn’t matter if you get the permit or if your contractor does, but you’re the one responsible for making sure a permit is issued. So either get it yourself or ask your contractor to show it to you. The size or price of the job doesn’t affect your need for a permit. It’s the nature of the work that determines whether you have to get one. If you’re not sure, call the city and ask.