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Yes, there is a permit required to install hot water tanks. The building permit fee is based on the valuation of the work.
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Although City Ordinance No. 5 to 01 Section 1511.08 states that only licensed plumbers are able to be issued permits, if a homeowner occupying that particular residence can show they are competent to install plumbing through questioning or diagramming the system we will issue them a permit.
To become registered as a Plumbing Contractor with the City of Lorain, you must possess a license from the State of Ohio Division of Industrial Compliance. You must then fill out the application packet (PDF), available at the Building Department. Include copy of State license.