When Do Homeowners Need to Obtain Permits for Home Projects?

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Getting ready to start a home improvement project? As you work with professional drafting and design services to get the plans for your renovation on paper, don’t forget to determine whether your project requires permits. No matter the size or scope of your undertaking, you likely need to obtain proper permits from your city or county.

How do I know when permits are required?

Most homeowners wonder why permits are required for any improvement project. Mainly, permits ensure that construction or renovation work is done safely and that the finished product is compliant with building, construction and zoning codes.

Not all construction or remodeling requires a permit, though. While you consult with your local drafting and design services during the planning phase of your project, they’ll likely be able to tell you whether it falls under the scope of local building codes. Codes specify the projects that need a permit. Generally, they include all renovations that fundamentally change the structure or use of a building. You’ll need a permit if your project includes any of the following tasks:

  • Adding or removing walls
  • Changing piping in the building
  • Demolition of a portion of the building
  • Changing the use of a room (i.e., converting a garage to a bedroom)
  • Re-roofing projects

Projects that are mainly aesthetic, such as repainting the house, adding new cabinets or installing new floors, do not require permits.

What about system permits?

In addition to building permits, your project may require a special system permit. These permits address electrical, plumbing or mechanical concerns. Installing an underground sprinkler? You’ll need a plumbing permit. For new HVAC system installation, you’ll need a mechanical permit. Consult your local building and permit office to determine whether portions of your renovation fall under the special system permit requirements.

What’s the easiest way to get the proper permits?

While you can get a permit for your project on your own, it’s simply easier to work with a reputable contractor to pull the permit. Whoever pulls the permit is responsible for ensuring all construction is up to code. It’s simply better to put this burden on the contractor’s shoulders, since you’re paying them to perform the work.
If you pull the permit yourself, in the eyes of the city, you are the contractor. You’ll be liable for any construction problems and be responsible for fixing them.

Can I wait and get a permit after construction is complete?

You should always get a permit if your project requires it, and do it as quickly as possible. If the city finds out you’ve performed work without a permit, they may make you tear it down, even if it appears to be done according to code. Moreover, there could be major trouble with unpermitted work if you ever sell your house in the future. It simply makes financial and logistical sense to get a permit before starting a renovation project.

Determining whether your renovation goals require a permit is just one way in which working with professional drafting and design services can make any remodeling project go more smoothly. Learn more about the right way to go about home projects by reaching out to WSL Incorporated today.

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