Do You Need a Building Permit? You Might be Surprised!

Room RemodelRecently, a very nice woman came into my office to discuss a basement remodel. She told me that she was just doing a very simple remodel, but soon it involved creating a room, running a heat duct to it, including a new light a switch and so on.

As the scope of work evolved, along with her desired timeline, I asked her if she applied for a building permit. She replied, “Oh, I don’t need a building permit.”

When I asked her why she thought that (news flash, the work described clearly required a permit), she said a contractor who had looked at the job had told her so.

Part of “due diligence” when hiring a contractor is not just about listening to what the contractor says, but double-checking some facts. If you talk to three contractors and even one says you need a permit, it’s a good idea to check.

A simple call to your building jurisdiction asking what type of work needs a building permit will yield the answer.

Many folks like to hear that they do not need a permit. I suspect it’s because of lower costs, less information to increase taxes on their property and the speed in getting the project moving. But permitting is important for a variety of reasons. It is vital that work be done to code for safety reasons.

I don’t know anyone who would willing to jeopardize the health and safety of their family to save a few bucks, but I see a lot of folks who want to avoid permits to save a minimal amount.

When you do work without a permit, then sell, it will be evident due to the tax records — and could cause problems for the sale. This often scares off potential buyers, who may wonder what else you may have cut corners on if you skirted the permit process.

I called several local building jurisdictions to ask about permitting requirements. They all gave similar answers. If you are doing anything structural, mechanical, plumbing or electrical, you guessed it, permitting is required.

So when you are considering a remodel, check on the building permit requirements in your jurisdiction. It will save you time and trouble down the road and keep you and your home safe.