When do I need a building permit or inspection?

I guess I'm a little fuzzy on when I "need" to apply for a permit for work I am doing around my house. Can I just call the city I live in and ask someone every time I work on a larger project? 1a) I install a ceiling fan, I don't think I need a permit. 1b) I remove a single fluorescent tube light fixture and... show more I guess I'm a little fuzzy on when I "need" to apply for a permit for work I am doing around my house. Can I just call the city I live in and ask someone every time I work on a larger project?

1a) I install a ceiling fan, I don't think I need a permit.
1b) I remove a single fluorescent tube light fixture and install recessed lighting in my kitchen. Do I need a permit (or inspection) since I'm rewiring/placing new wire in the ceiling?

2a) I change a faucet. No permit.
2b) I install a water softener. I was told I would need a permit for this because if it isn't installed properly the resin could backflow into the city water header.

I feel it is my home and I can do what I want and I guess that is true for the most part. I can understand issues arising like mentioned with the water softener (I'm not planning on doing this and haven't looked into any details so I don't know if the resin backflowing is even a concern but I think it's a good example). If I do the work correctly, no one is really going to know that I installed recessed lighting, but still...

When do I NEED to get permits or have inspections performed when I am working on my own house?
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