One of the joys of being a homeowner is the freedom to renovate your house. As the monarch of your castle, you have the liberty to upgrade your kitchen or add another floor to satisfy your lifestyle needs.
However, you can’t do whatever you want with your property when you want. The government has as much a say about your home improvement plans as you.
So do you need to ask permission when tackling basement finishing in Utah, a siding replacement in California, or a drywall repair in Oregon? To aid your research, let us dispel the most common misconceptions about building permits in the United States.
Building Permits Are Optional
More often than not, you need a permit for home improvement. There are exceptions to the rule, and the list of allowable unpermitted projects can vary from state to state. When in doubt, consult the relevant local government office to avoid being forced to redo the construction and double your expenses due to noncompliance.
You Can Get Away Not Pulling a Necessary One
The authorities might not know about a non-allowable unpermitted project right away. Frankly, they might never learn about it.
If you are planning to risk not getting a needed permit, understand that inspectors are always on the lookout for offenders. Whenever they visit a neighborhood, their eyes are open for any evidence of ongoing construction. Also, a neighbor could advise the government about your secret.
All an inspector needs is an address to verify any suspicion or report. One could knock on your door and ask for a particular permit. If you get caught, your unfinished project could be suspended until you completed the necessary papers. If a finished project is in question, it could be ordered for demolition.
The Contractor Is Always Accountable for Permitted Work
If you pull the permit yourself, you might have to answer to the inspector, who will check the construction several times to ensure all stages are up to code.
An unlicensed contractor can refuse to apply for a permit on your behalf. Be wary of this, for it could be a red flag of contractor incompetence and dishonesty. After all, why would a home improvement professional decline to do this task?
A Permit Costs Just a Few Hundred Bucks
The average cost of a building permit in the country is a little over $1,200. In small towns, you might be required to pay as low as $100. In major cities, though, you might have to pay as high as $7,500.
Do not underestimate the cost of a building permit. Those who do tend to run into budgeting problems, which can also affect project scheduling.
Permit Application Is a Fast Process
Speaking of scheduling, permit application is a notorious cause of delay in home improvement. It is not uncommon to wait for weeks just to be accommodated by an inspector swamped with dozens of assignments.
The government is not the only party you have to consult to survive your home improvement in peace. You might also need to talk to the homeowners’ association and your neighbors to realize your dream project without any issue. As long as you consult everyone you have to, the construction is likely to go smooth sailing from beginning to end.