Thursday, May 7, 2015

After Home Inspections check for Permits

Most property owners can wrap their heads around the idea of a building permit for some things: new construction, or maybe even a complicated addition.  But what about smaller remodeling projects?  Do you need a permit to swap your laminate countertops for granite?  What about if you want to build a privacy fence or a moderate-sized deck?  Or what if you'd like to do the work yourself?
The short answer is, almost always, yes.  The I-Codes, including the International Building Code and the International Residential Code, are the baselines from which most state, city and municipal building codes are developed.  Regarding permits, I-Code rules are pretty clear.  They state that a permit must be obtained whenever a structure is to be constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved or demolished.
That makes it sound like property owners need a permit to tighten a washer on a leaky faucet.  So when exactly do you really need a permit?
Building codes exist to protect us from unscrupulous contractors who cut corners by using sub-standard materials and unlicensed tradesmen.  They also try to shield us from well-intentioned do-it-yourselfers like Tom Hanks' character in "The Money Pit," who may think they're capable of doing certain jobs, only to find themselves in a hole -- literally.  Getting a permit means that someone knowledgeable will review your remodel plans and spot mistakes before work begins.  Once work is underway, inspectors ensure that any life-threatening errors are corrected before a job is completed.
So, permits are required by law and are intended to ensure your safety, but do you really need one?  
Yes. Every property owner should pull a permit and hire a licensed contractor whenever the law demands it.
These days, we always hire licensed professionals.  They know when it's necessary to obtain permits, and they also know how to help us cut through the red tape to get them quickly.  Experience has taught me that "better safe than sorry" is more than just a silly cliché, especially when it comes to the business of construction and remodeling and the safety of my family


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