When it comes to building permits, how much do you know about them?

Building when you don’t have a permit to is illegal and you run the risk of just creating more problems than you really need if you go ahead without one (even though it’s legally required).

Building without a permit can end up costing you. If you ever have doubts about whether you need one, you can easily contact the building department in the city or town to see if it is required.

Permits can vary by area, but they’re essentially official approval that allow you to green light construction. It’s proof that you went through the right channels to show your plans and have them approved. Having plans approved means that your plans have been shown to comply with the building codes for that area.

The codes are there to give clear standards for construction. This keeps construction safe and often from being excessive or gaudy. A building permit shows that your construction will meet the standards set locally for quite a few things. This includes construction but also zoning, land use, water, structural integrity, electricity, fire resistance, and sewage and sanitation.

Having a permit means that your plans meet these ordinances, making it legal construction and thus able to be resold. If you need a permit but build without and the city finds out or you’re trying to sell the house on the market, they may give you a fine. If reselling, you may have to tear down and rebuild with a permit before being allowed to sell, so it is a big deal.

You usually will require a permit for major work. While this excludes landscaping, redoing your floors, painting or cabinetry (in MOST instances), you will need one for outdoor work in general on the home. This could be garage alterations, additions, most external alterations, plumbing or electric work. Even window or fireplace installation or driveway work may require one, so be sure to do your research before going ahead.

You may even require more than one permit depending on what you’re planning on going ahead with. Site plans, electrical, mechanical, building, concrete and plumbing permits are all pretty common. A contractor can get it for you or you may get one yourself by applying through an application from the building department. City hall will be able to direct you if you need help or the permit application may even be available online.

Permits may be valid for a temporary basis and look into building permit expediting if you need one soon. They usually cover you for 6 months to a year, and you can always renew or extend one. A good contractor can also help you get one or answer any questions.

In the end, it’s always better to have a permit than not! Make sure that you need one before applying and then start the process so you can get started and not worry that your work will be for nothing.

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