Does my Home Improvement Project Need a Permit?
Whether a homeowner needs a permit for a project varies from state to state, county to county, and city to city. What is required in one area may not be required in another area. For anyone who has recently moved, finding out that the new location has different permitting requirements is important. It may come as a bit of a shock if work is done that is not permitted, and then the city or another entity requires that the work be torn down, changed, or redone because of that.
What Kind of Work Is Most Likely Permitted?
Fortunately, there are ways to make sure work is being done right, and permits are issued if they are needed. Generally, work that needs a permit involves electrical or plumbing additions or changes, along with anything that alters the structure of the house. Foundation work, moving or building a wall, and roof repair may all need permits. Additionally, larger fences and any work that requires tapping into a water source, such as adding an underground sprinkler system, may need permits from the city or county.
Using a Contractor Can Help
In most cases, local contractors are familiar with what needs to be done to get a permit for a project. They are also much more likely to be sure about the work that needs to be permitted and the work that does not. If a contractor suggests not getting a permit for the project, it may be better to find a new contractor. Doing things legally is an important way to go when it comes to making sure a project is completed correctly. When a contractor is hired, they will “pull” the permit for the job, so the homeowner can see that the permit is valid and that the work is going to be done correctly, inspected, and approved by the building department.
Doing Things On a DIY Basis
For jobs that do not really need a contractor, or for homeowners who want to do things on their own, there are also plenty of options. While skipping out on the permitting process may be tempting, it is much safer and better in the long run to make sure any needed permits are acquired. Going down to the local building department and asking questions is the best way to get answers. Let them know what the plans are for the project, and ask what they need to see to get a permit for it. Then make sure the people who do the work have a good understanding of the laws and requirements, because getting it done right the first time can save a lot of time and money. Remember the work will have to pass inspection.
Working With the Building Department
By working with the local building department to make sure all permits are pulled and all work is done to the satisfaction of the inspector and to the correct building codes, homeowners can get projects completed more effectively. The building department is there to ensure that things are done right, and that structures are safe. When a homeowner works with the department they have a lower risk of problems with their home, since they know the work will be inspected. That is an important way for them to make sure everything gets done right.
For anyone who is planning to buy a home, finding out whether work has been done to that home and whether it was permitted matters. If work was not permitted, it may be possible to go back and get permits for the work after the fact, and ensure that the work passes inspection. Working with a good real estate professional is an excellent way to get advice for issues like this one, and feel better about a new home.
Patrick Finney would like to thank Ryan Tollefsen for his contribution to the FINN Real Estate blog. Ryan Tollefsen is the founder and team leader of Unity Home Group. Ryan specializes in negotiating offers, marketing, managing the team, setting goals and achieving them.