As a general contractor focusing on building projects for homeowners, we are often asked by prospective clients if a permit is necessary.
Occasionally, a homeowner will come right out and ask us to not permit their project. Their justification is that permits cost money and time, and some also fear that their property taxes will increase dramatically.
Yes, permits do have a cost in both time and money, but NOT getting a permit has potentially higher costs, both to the homeowner and to us, the contractor. So, will we ever skip the permitting process? Keep reading to find out.
What is a Permit?
A permit, or building permit, is an official document or approval issued by a local government or permitting agency that authorizes the construction, alteration, or demolition of a building or structure. The permit typically outlines specific requirements and standards for the construction project, including building codes, zoning regulations, and safety standards.
The permit process usually involves submitting detailed plans and specifications for the construction project and undergoing inspections at various stages of construction to ensure compliance with safety standards and regulations.
Does Every Home Renovation Project Require a Permit?
Building permits are generally required for any project involving structural changes or additions to a building, as well as for electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work affecting the safety or integrity of a building.
Determining if a building permit is required can be a confusing and often overlooked aspect of construction projects. Many people assume that small or simple projects do not require a permit, but this is not always the case.
Every jurisdiction that issues a building permit is different. In some locales, the dollar amount spent on a project will determine if a permit is required. In other areas, the specific nature of the project will determine if a permit is necessary.
For example, in most jurisdictions, painting a house does not require a permit (however, it may require approval from your HOA, but that’s a subject for another article). Conversely, finishing something like a basement will likely require a permit because it involves one or more of the following:
- structural changes
- new plumbing
- electrical work
- other types of work that trigger the need to get a permit, based on local building code or other requirements.
Another trigger can be the square footage of a project, for example in the case of an outdoor shed. If the number of square feet of the shed exceeds some number determined by your local code, a permit requirement will be triggered.
So, the answer to the question, “Does every home renovationproject require a permit?” is that it depends on the nature and scope of the construction project. Building permits are typically required for any project that involves structural changes or additions to a building, including new construction, alterations, renovations, or even demolitions (yes, demolishing some or all of a building requires a permit in many cases). In addition, separate permits may be required for electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work that affects the safety or integrity of a building.
Some common examples of projects that require a building permit include:
- Adding a room or making structural changes to a home or building
- Building a new structure or addition, such as a garage or shed
- Making changes to electrical, plumbing, or HVAC systems
- Gutting a kitchen and rebuilding it
If you are unsure if your project would require a permit, you can inquire with your local permitting office or local building officials. And if you are working with a licensed contractor, they will determine if a building permit is required for your specific project. Contractors typically take care of preparing and filing the necessary paperwork and plans with the permitting office.
7 Benefits of Getting a Building Permit
One of the most important reasons to obtain a building permit is to ensure the safety of the building and its occupants. Building codes and permit requirements are put in place to ensure that construction projects are done in compliance with safety standards and regulations. These codes have evolved over the years, often after a tragedy or accident shines a spotlight on inadequate building techniques.
Permitting agencies require inspections at various stages of construction to ensure that all work is being done properly and safely. This can help prevent structural failures, electrical hazards, and other safety issues that could put people at risk.
Building codes may require certain types of materials to be used in construction, such as fire-resistant materials for structures in high-risk areas. In addition, building codes may require specific structural components, such as the use of hurricane straps in areas prone to hurricanes, to ensure that buildings can withstand natural disasters and other unforeseen events.
- Legal and Zoning compliance
Another important reason to obtain a building permit is to comply with local laws and regulations. Failing to obtain a required permit or follow the proper procedures can result in costly fines, legal action, and delays in the construction process. Completed work that was not permitted may even have to be physically removed, essentially doubling the cost of the work once it is completed.
Zoning laws dictate how land can be used, and what types of buildings can be constructed in certain areas. For example, a residential property may be zoned for single-family homes only, while a commercial property may be zoned for retail stores and restaurants. Building permits help ensure that construction projects adhere to zoning laws. In turn, this prevents the construction of, or modification to, buildings that could negatively impact the surrounding area.
These regulations also ensure that buildings are constructed in a manner that is consistent with the overall aesthetic and design of the surrounding area.
- Increased Property value
Obtaining a building permit can also increase the value of a property. During a remodeling project, the heated square footage of a home may be increased, and recorded on public records at the new higher amount. Even without increasing the size of a home, buildings that have been constructed or renovated with proper permits and inspections are often viewed as more desirable by potential buyers or tenants.
The assurance of safety and compliance with regulations can increase the perceived value of a property, leading to higher resale or rental prices.
- Insurance coverage
Insurance companies may require proof of building permits and inspections before providing coverage for a property. This is because buildings that are constructed or renovated without proper permits and inspections may be viewed as a higher risk for insurance purposes. Failing to obtain a permit can result in a denial of coverage or increased insurance premiums.
In the event of an insurance claim resulting from defective materials or workmanship in an unpermitted project, the lack of a permit could give an insurance company grounds to deny a claim. The homeowner would have to foot the bill for repairs.
- Quality control
Obtaining a building permit requires adherence to specific standards and regulations. This can help ensure that construction projects are done with high-quality materials and workmanship. In addition, the permit process can help identify potential problems early on in the construction process, reducing the likelihood of costly repairs or corrections later on. Inspections that are mandated throughout a project ensure that proper building techniques and codes are followed.
- Improved communication
Obtaining a building permit requires communication between the property owner, contractors, and government officials. This communication can help ensure that all parties are on the same page regarding the construction project, leading to fewer misunderstandings and potential conflicts.
- Avoid problems when selling your home
In the future, when you sell a home that has unpermitted remodeling, you may run into problems. You may be required to disclose any repairs or updates made to the property. And you may be required to disclose if the updates made were properly permitted.
Without proper permitting and final inspections of remodeling projects, some lenders may not approve financing for a property, making it harder for someone to buy your home. By properly permitting your project now, you will avoid problems when selling your home in the future.
Obtaining a building permit is an important aspect of any construction project. Building permits ensure public safety, legal compliance with building codes and zoning laws, increased property value, insurance coverage, and quality control. It is important to consult with local building officials or a licensed contractor to determine if a building permit is required for a specific project. Failing to obtain a permit can result in costly fines, legal action, and delays in the construction process.
While the process of obtaining a building permit may seem time-consuming and costly, the benefits far outweigh the costs in the long run. By ensuring compliance with safety standards and regulations, obtaining a building permit can prevent accidents, injuries, and costly repairs in the future. It can also provide assurance to potential buyers or tenants, increasing the value of the property and making it more attractive on the market.
So, to answer the question, “Will Halcyon Remodeling skip the permitting process for a job?” The answer, as you surely know by now, is “No!” In addition to the benefits of following the permitting process as discussed above, we could face fines and penalties such as being barred from operating in a jurisdiction if we are found to be doing work without a permit.
In summary, the benefits of obtaining a permit far outweigh the costs. By obtaining a permit and following proper procedures, property owners can protect their investment, ensure public safety, and increase the value of their property.