What You Need To Know About
Renovation And Expansion
There are no federal or state standards for building codes. This means that these codes will vary from city to city. You can find out the specific building requirements for your city by contacting or visiting the local code compliance agency or municipality. The homeowner is responsible for making sure that a remodeling project is being done lawfully, meaning “up to code.” It is important to note that even simple additions such as fences can fall under building code requirements.
6 REASONS WHY PROPERTY OWNERS DO REMODELS WITHOUT PERMITS:
- City code is open to interpretation
- Permits are a hassle to get
- Permits cost too much
- Property owners assume that a contractor will get them
- Property owners think they will not get caught
- Remodeling permits may cause delays
The reality is that not getting a permit can come back to haunt you. Consider the following scenarios: the remodel work may not be done to code; insurance might refuse to cover a repair resulting from the illegal remodeling; the governing city might force you to tear down walls in order to meticulously examine the building and materials; and the city will assess penalties for non-compliance that are far more expensive than the original permit(s). In addition, there could be problems with selling your property because banks won’t loan money to buyers for homes that do not pass code inspections. As they say, it is easier to do things right the first time than to have to do them over again.
Renovation and expansion inspections are performed to ensure compliance with local building code requirements. The improvements that will more than likely require a permit are those that could create unsafe working conditions or change the actual structure of a property.
IMPROVEMENTS THAT WILL REQUIRE A PERMIT:
- Adding or removing walls
- Changing the function of a room
- Changing the layout
- Changing the piping
- Demolishing part of the property
- Foundation work
- Home or commercial additions
- Updates/changes to doors and windows
- Updates/changes to electrical systems
- Updates/changes to fireplace and chimney
- Updates/changes to HVAC
- Updates/changes to plumbing
- Updates/changes to sewer systems
- Wall removal
IMPROVEMENTS THAT DON’T TYPICALLY REQUIRE A PERMIT:
- Adding a small fence
- Adding kitchen cabinets
- Installing floor coverings
- Installing new siding
- Repaving your driveway
- Replacing certain appliances
- Replacing countertops
The Permit Process
For guidance on the permit process, it would be wise to consult a contractor, structural engineer, or anyone with a background in remodeling or construction. Some contractors can pull permits for you; but make sure you discuss and agree to it beforehand. Just keep in mind that the person who pulls the permits will be responsible for ensuring that the work is done legally and correctly. The person who applies for the permits may also have to provide drawings when submitting plans.
The length of time it takes to get permits from local municipal governments can vary. Some areas will approve them the same day, so long as they are simple projects like fences or small remodels. Permits for larger projects, such as structural alterations and/or additions, can take longer depending on how much change is going to happen to the footprint of the property
Also, remember that most permits require the work to be started, not finished, within six months. If you are not able to begin within that timeframe, you will need to ask for an extension. Once the legal home improvement is complete, expect a final inspection and approval to follow. Don’t forget to ask for copies of all the documents that were submitted and returned for your permit approval.
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