Permits for Emergency Repairs

Images of Property Damage

Contact our team with your emergency repair permitting questions at 512-974-1500 (Mon-Fri, 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.) or Austin 3-1-1.

Inspectors are available 24/7 for emergency electrical and plumbing repairs. Call 512-974-2030 for electrical inspections or 512-974-1520 for plumbing and gas inspections. If an inspector does not answer, leave a message.

Please note, the State of Texas requires electrical and plumbing work to be performed by licensed professionals. To confirm your electrical or plumbing contractors are licensed, visit Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation for electrical contractors or the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners for plumbing contractors.

Do I need a permit to begin emergency repairs?

No. Your safety is our priority, and in the City of Austin, work can begin immediately on any emergency repairs needed at your home or business. We will work with you to retroactively permit and inspect all emergency repairs to ensure work was completed safely.

Through March, the City of Austin is waiving some fees and changing some permitting requirements to ensure emergency repairs can happen safely and quickly. This will apply to any damages that occurred as a result of winter weather from Jan. 31 through Feb. 2. Read more on this page or read our press release

The deadline to apply for a retroactive permit for storm-related repairs has been extended to five days after work begins. Please note “2023 Winter Weather Event” on the post-repair permit application, and provide documentation showing the condition of dead, diseased or imminent hazard trees before they were removed. 

Temporary Waiver of Some Electrical Code Requirements 

The Feb. 9 Council action allows the Building Official to exempt some electrical work from permit requirements, extends the deadline for some permit applications, and waives a City of Austin registration requirement for electricians who are licensed to work in Texas. 

The City’s Electrical Code typically requires an individual to obtain a permit to install, alter, repair, replace, or remodel an electrical system. Temporarily waiving these requirements will help residents complete work faster to prevent further damage to structures. Regardless of the waivers, all work must still follow all federal, state and local requirements. Be sure to hire licensed electricians and plumbers to complete those repairs.  Learn more about this temporary waiver in the Ordinance(PDF)

Temporary Waiver of Fees 

Permitting and development fees for structural repairs and tree removal associated with the winter storm have been waived. The waiver applies to plan reviews, inspections, demolitions and variances, but not to re-inspections when repairs do not comply with Code requirements and fail initial inspections. Learn more about this temporary waiver in the Ordinance (PDF)

The temporary waivers are in effect through March 31, 2023.   

Do all repairs on my home require a permit?

The following types of repairs to your single-family home or duplex never require a permit.

  • Cosmetic “finish work” (painting, installation and removal of papering, tiling, carpet, cabinets, countertops, etc.)
  • Small repairs to foundations, floor or roof decking, and some siding and drywall (must comply with applicable Building Codes, City Codes, and other ordinances)
  • Exterior trim components
  • Simple plumbing repairs (stop leaks, clear clogs, or replace certain pipes if no inspection or coordination is needed)

Learn more about work exempt from permits.

What projects will require permits?

For the safety of you and your home, these types of projects do require permits. 

  • Ruptured or damaged water lines
  • Main electrical service
  • Structural damage

If you must complete emergency repairs before receiving a permit, you will need a retroactive permit after an inspector ensures the work was completed according to Code.

The deadline to apply for a retroactive permit for storm-related repairs has been extended to five days after work begins. This extended deadline is in effect through March 31, 2023. Please note “2023 Winter Weather Event” on the post-repair permit application.  

Does this apply to my commercial structure or apartment building?

Many permitting exemptions for homeowners also apply to commercial structures and multifamily residences, such as triplexes and apartment complexes. Learn more about commercial building and repair projects that do not require permits.

Do I need a permit to remove damaged trees from my property?

Austin’s Tree Ordinance allows for storm-related emergency tree removal before receiving a permit. There is no fee for a permit to remove a dead, diseased, or imminent hazard tree, but documentation will be required.

On residential property, trees less than 19" in diameter (measured 4'6" above grade) are unregulated and do not require permits for maintenance. Learn more about tree care.

As tree cleanup continues, there may be a concern about oak wilt. During cleanup residents are advised to:  

  • Be careful cleaning up storm debris.   
  • Use clean tools and paint new pruning cuts on oak trees immediately.  

What else should I know about my home repair project?

  • Licensing and Registration: Some trades, including plumbers, HVAC mechanics and electricians, require registration with the City of Austin. Learn more about Licensing and Registration.
  • Homestead Permits: In some cases, eligible homeowners can complete these projects. If you qualify for a Homeowner’s Homestead Permit, contact 512-974-1500 (Mon-Fri, 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.) to register. 
  • Express Permits: Some projects, such as replacing siding, simple bathroom remodels and roof work, qualify for same-day express permits. Learn more about Express Permits.
  • Emergency Plumbing and Electrical Inspections: Inspectors are available 24/7 for emergency electrical and plumbing repairs. Call 512-974-2030 for electrical inspections or 512-974-1520 for plumbing and gas inspections. If an inspector does not answer, leave a message. 

Questions? Contact Us. 

Not sure where to start or what this means for your repair? We’re here to make repairs to your homes and businesses as safe and quick as possible. Let us know how we can help. 

Contact us: 

For more information on specific repairs, click on the type of repair:


To turn power off to the house:

  • Never approach downed power lines, call Austin Energy at 512-322-9100, to report outages.
  • Locate the electric meter on the exterior of the house. It will be located near where the electric utility lines meet the house.
  • Exterior disconnects are located adjacent to the electric meter. Turn all circuit breakers or switches to the off position.
  • Interior disconnects are located directly behind the electric meter. Turn all circuit breakers or switches to the off position.
  • Contact a licensed electrician to make repairs
  • Call 512-974-2030 to schedule an emergency inspection for electrical work. If an inspector does not answer, please leave a message. 

Read Austin Energy's Feb. 5, 2023 memo (PDF) for updated guidance on Protocol for Damaged Customer Electric Equipment. 

General Damage

Once the affected utilities are off, you can remove damaged material such as drywall, siding, and damaged finishes. Use caution and do not remove structural elements unless you are a professional. 

If you encounter hazardous materials or are concerned that there may be hazardous materials in the damaged areas such as asbestos, lead, or refrigerant* please contact a professional to assess the area and provide proper removal and disposal as regulated by the State and Federal government.

*Refrigerant will need to be recovered by a licensed mechanical contractor and reclaimed.

Mechanical Systems (Air Conditioning)
  • First, locate the main electrical panel and then turn off power to both the indoor(s) and outdoor unit(s). This can be done either by locating the pull disconnect or by turning off the breaker panel.
  • Refrigerant will need to be recovered by a licensed mechanical contractor and reclaimed.
  • During an electrical power outage, turn off power to the furnace. When the electricity is restored to your home, the electricity grid may have some power fluctuations that could damage the electrical components of the furnace. Other sensitive appliances and electronics should be unplugged as well. It is safe to leave a light in the "on" position so that you will know when the power is restored. Once electricity is back, it should be safe to turn the furnace back on.
Natural Gas
  • If there is a gas leak, IMMEDIATELY EVACUATE the area, and from a safe location call 9-1-1 and your gas company.
  • Don’t smoke, or light a match, candle, or other flame.
  • If the gas was shut off by the gas service provider or AFD, for any reason, you will need to pull a plumbing permit and follow the pulled gas meter procedures before the utility company will restore gas. No gas work is exempt from a permit.
  • Never use supplemental heating inside your dwelling such as a grill, oven, or generator.
  • Starting in mid-2013 all new homes were required to have a Carbon Monoxide alarm. In 2018 this requirement extended to existing homes. If your home does not currently have a Carbon Monoxide alarm, please be prepared and obtain them now for your home and replace any units that have expired. They typically last 5-7 years. The requirements for these alarms can be found in the City’s adopted Property Maintenance Code (Section 705). 
  • Ensure you have a working smoke detector prior to calling for an inspection. 
  • Contact 512-974-1520 for emergency gas inspections.
Water/Burst Pipes
  • There should be a customer cut-off valve located just outside the water meter box. Some customers, especially commercial accounts, will require special tools. If you need Austin Water to come shut off the water for a leak, call 512-972-1000 and follow the prompts for a water/wastewater emergency.
  • If you have an electric water heater and have no water pressure, please turn off the electric supply to the water heater. In most recent homes there is either a switch or disconnect near the water heater. For some older homes without the disconnect near the water heater, you must use the electrical breaker to de-energize the water heater. This breaker may be located inside the breaker panel inside the home.
  • If you have a gas water heater with no water pressure, please turn the gas control valve on the water heater to vacation mode (or VAC) until the water pressure can be restored. This will allow the pilot light to remain lit, but keep the water heater from continuing to heat the water. If necessary, there is a shut-off valve at the gas meter, or you can call your gas service provider.
  • If you have burst pipes, you should turn off your affected utilities such as water, electricity assuming there are electrical wires or devices in the area, and natural gas if it is also affected by associated damage.
  • Call 512-974-1520 to schedule an emergency inspection for plumbing work. If an inspector does not answer, please leave a message. 

Travis County Temporary Disaster-Related Exemptions

Travis County property owners may qualify for a temporary disaster-related exemption if their home or business was damaged by the recent ice storm. The Travis Central Appraisal District website includes an explanation of the exemption, information on how to apply, and a calculator for property owners to estimate if they qualify. The deadline to apply is May 22, 2023. More information is available online: Travis Central Appraisal District website.