Building Safety

How to information

Home Improvements

Do I need a permit to replace my hot water heater?

Yes a permit is required. Owners of single-family or duplex homes who physically reside there may obtain the permit and do the work themselves. If the replacement is done in a rental or commercial building, it must be done by a licensed contractor. See Policy AG.28

Before you Hire a Contractor

Before you hire a contractor for your remodeling, electrical, plumbing/mechanical, or construction project, check our new municipal licensing website to insure the company you hire is fully licensed and bonded. Licensed contractors have a general contractors and municipal license, and must prove they have the proper training, general liability insurance, and bonding for their state license. The traditional "handyman" is not required to have any training or insurance. If a property owner hires an unlicensed contractor and one of the workers causes damage or is injured on the job, the property owner may be held personally liable. Protect yourself; insure your contractor is licensed and bonded. Check our new licensing website.

Where are smoke detectors required?

Smoke detectors are required in all sleeping rooms, outside of each sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms, on each additional story of the dwelling, including basements and cellars but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics.

Where are carbon monoxide detectors required?

Carbon monoxide detectors are required outside of each sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms and on each additional story of the dwelling, including basements and cellars, but not including crawlspace and uninhabitable attics.  The location of carbon monoxide detectors may be on the wall or ceiling. For residential requirements, see Anchorage Municipal Code 23.85.R315.

Do I need to elevate my appliances located in the garage ?

Yes, appliances and equipment located in the garage must be elevated 18" to their source of ignition, spark or flame. See Handout M.02

What are the insulation requirements for my house?

Current code requires R-38 in ceilings, R-19 in walls, and R-30 in exposed floor surfaces. See Local Amendment 23.85 Chapter 11 Energy Efficiency. 

Where is ground-fault circuit interrupter protection (GFCI)required?

The  National Electrical Code requires GFCI protection in the bathrooms, garages and accessory buildings that have a floor located at or below grade, outdoors, crawl spaces (at or below grade), unfinished basements, kitchens and wet bars. There are a few exceptions, so consult with an electrician. Important note to add is there is now a requirement for Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter protection for newly constructed bedrooms starting January 2002.

Questions about stairs: 
  • What is the rise and run requirement on stairs?
    See  Handout R.07
  • What is the required height for handrails and guards?
    See  Handout R.06.
Questions about egress windows:
  • What is an egress window and where are they required?
    Egress windows are used for escape and rescue from sleeping rooms. All sleeping rooms are required to have an egress window meeting a minimum size or have a door that leads directly to the outside. See Policy A.01.
  • What is the maximum size requirement and sill height for an egress window?
    There are area, height and width and sill height requirements. Measurements are taken from inside the opened window. If your window doesn't open all the way, project the window frame back into the opening and measure from there. See Policy A.01 for required measurements.


How can I check the status of my permit?

Permit status, comments and historical information can now be viewed online using our Permit Reporting application   

How do I request an Inspection?

Inspections can be requested in 3 ways: Online, by Phone or by Fax. See our Inspections page for more information.

Call Before You Dig!

Planning a home improvement job? Planting a tree? Installing a fence or deck? Here's what you need to know first:

Whether you are planning to do it yourself or hire a professional, smart digging means calling 811 before each job. Homeowners often make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked, but every digging job requires a call – even small projects like planting trees and shrubs


Please see our Licensing Page