Do you need a permit to renovate your bathroom? What about to build a deck? It can be confusing for homeowners to figure out, but shouldn’t be ignored. In this Angie’s List report, how to determine if you project requires a permit and the pitfalls of not pulling one.
“We’re removing an inside wall to make a more open space and actually moving the kitchen to the opposite of the room, making it an open kitchen with an island," says homeowner Mark Stauffer.
Stauffer has lived in this home for 35 years and he decided it’s time to make some updates.
“There is electrical, plumbing, and structural work being done and those all require permits.” says Stauffer.
Whether your home improvement project requires a permit varies depending on where you live, but most laws require that you not build, move, significantly alter or add to a building without a permit.
“It actually provides you important protection," says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List. "For example, in some scenarios a contractor must be licensed in order to get the permit so it adds an extra layer of protection for you.”Remodeler Thomas Pearson says a fair amount of planning must be done before pulling a permit.
“It’s very important that if a room addition is being built that the setbacks are correct," says Pearson. "There’s a certain amount you are supposed to have and planning is the most important part of the job. If the planning is done very well in the beginning then the rest of the job will run well.”A permit for a small project may range in the $100 range or less, while a bigger project like a home addition can cost more than $900.
If you skip the permit process in order to save a few bucks Angie’s List warns you could end up paying more in the long run.
“If you skip pulling a permit you might end up paying fines, it could stop the work being done, they may make you re-do it," says Hicks. "In some scenarios when it comes down to electrical work and the electrical work causes a fire your homeowner’s insurance may not cover it.”Angie’s List says if a contractor asks you to pull your own permits that could be a red flag the contractor isn’t insured or doesn’t have the required license to do the work.
So where do you go to learn if your project requires a permit? No matter whether you are hiring a contractor or doing the work yourself, check with your local building department. Do your own research and question any contractor who remodels without pulling a permit.
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