What’s a permit and why is it necessary for solar?

Permitting is a necessary step in the Vivint Solar journey, but there are several different types of residential permits and their requirements can change based on your local municipality. In this article, we’ll explain what a permit is, how it works, and why it’s necessary for solar.

What’s a permit?

A permit is written authorization from your utility company to install a solar energy system on your home.

Think of it as a permission slip to install solar on your roof, but instead of getting permission from your mom, we’re getting permission from your municipality.

Though there are several different types of residential permits, when it comes to solar, we usually only apply for a residential permit (also known as a building permit or structural permit).

How do permits work?

That depends on where you live, the work you’re doing, and the person who’s doing the work. Permit requirements vary by location, which means your municipality may ask for slightly different information than the municipality of your friend who lives in a neighboring city.

In general, residential permit applications require us to provide:

  • An explanation of the type of work we’ll be doing on your home
  • Our contact information as the company doing the solar installation
  • Your contact information as the owner of the home
  • The address of the home where we’re installing the solar energy system
  • Details about your home (size, structure, building materials, power type, roof type, additions, etc.)
  • Detailed schematics of the Vivint Solar system, it’s components, where we’ll be installing it, and how we’ll connect it to your electrical system

Once we’ve submitted it, your municipality will review the permit application and either approve your Vivint Solar system for installation or reject your application. Most municipalities explain their reason(s) for rejecting a permit application, though not always.

That’s why we make it a priority to develop working relationships with each municipality and understand the permit requirements within each area.

If your permit for solar is approved, we’ll go to the next step in the solar journey which is requesting approval from your utility company. If your permit for solar is rejected, we’ll work with your municipality to understand why and what we can do to get it approved. In most cases, we’re able to reapply for a permit as soon as we’ve addressed and resolved the outstanding concerns.

Looking to do some work on your home?

Contact your municipality to check if you need to apply for a residential permit. Unpermitted structures can cause major delays when it comes to getting your permit for solar approved and be expensive. Save yourself some time and money by permitting before you work.

Why is it necessary to get a permit for my solar energy system?

A few reasons:

  1. It’s safer
    Your solar energy design will be scrutinized by certified experts to ensure that the solar equipment we put on your home—and the way we install it—meet the minimum requirements for electrical and structural safety, according to national code.

  2. It’s cheaper
    If we don’t get a permit before we start working, the municipality could end up charging us double or even triple their regular permitting fee, which may be compounded if they end up rejecting the permit.

  3. It’s required
    Because we offer grid-tied options, we also need authorization from your utility company to install your solar energy system, and most utility companies won’t even look at a request for solar if we can’t submit a permit with our interconnection application.

Is there anything I need to do to get the permit approved?

Not unless we say otherwise. Most of the time we’ll work directly with your municipality to understand the reason behind any delays in getting the permit approved and how we can resolve them quickly. If we need anything, we’ll let you know.

Copyright © 2021 Vivint Solar Developer, LLC. All rights reserved. Vivint Solar Developer, LLC (EIN: 80‐0756438) is a licensed contractor in each state in which we operate. For information about our contractor licenses, please visit vivintsolar.com/licenses.