"Do Temporary Walls Require a Permit?" Here's What the Experts Say

building permit and codes for temporary walls

A question that we get sometimes is "do I need a permit to add a temporary partition wall or room divider to my home?" This question can't be answered as a blanket statement, as every single county in America has its own bylaws and regulations. However, we can provide a general framework for buying/installing temporary partition walls and making you’re in good standing with your local bylaws and regulations. 

Room Dividers vs. Partition Walls: What’s the difference?

Well, room dividers are, by definition, furniture. So, our freestanding L-shaped and straight room dividers are fair game in any scenario, permit or not. Unless there is a local regulation against putting furniture in your home, you’re fine. 

Things get a bit more complicated when doors are involved, as room dividers don’t have doors. When a door is involved, this now becomes a partition wall. There are many names for partition walls, but the official definition is “a wall that does not bear any weight”, i.e. a wall that is non-structural. All of our kits that include doors are considered partition walls.

Do temporary partition walls require a permit?

This is where things start to vary from county to county. Lynn Coleman is an attorney at Coleman Legal, PLLC in North Carolina, concentrating in real estate law with 40 years of experience. In an email, she told us:

In Wake County, NC, building permits are not required for:

- Non-structural work where costs is less than $15,000 in any single-family residence.
- Farm buildings outside the jurisdiction of any municipality.
- Residential accessory structures where no dimension exceeds 12 feet."
Of course, she's specifying the exact county where she practices law, as bylaws and regulations vary from county to county.

In some cases, a partition wall’s permit requirements may come down to intended use. If the intended use of the partition wall is to create a habitable space (read: a bedroom) a permit may be required in that scenario. On the other hand, if the intended use is to create an office or storage area, a permit is likely not required. In either case, we strongly recommend contacting your local building department just to be sure. That way, you know 100% you’re in good standing, as every county has their own bylaws and regulations.

What if I don’t own, but I’m renting?

Good question! Again, every person’s agreement with their landlord is different, so we won’t make any blanket statements. However, as mentioned earlier, room dividers are simply considered furniture, so unless your lease states that you need to ask permission to put furniture in your home, you should be good. Many landlords will also accept freestanding partition walls, but it’s always best to ask.

If you have any questions for us, always feel free to contact us by phone, live chat, or email!