Homebuilding Permits

With the economic downturn, many homeowners have decided to take advantage of depressed prices, availability of undeveloped lots, and lower interest rates to build a new home. At the same time, many home builders are looking for ways to stay afloat. Some have resorted to taking advantage of many of these prospective clients.

Cutting corners and less-than-perfect quality are both unacceptable. While there are a number of things homeowners should do to check the reputation of their builder, they should certainly pay attention to the legal items that could have even larger ramifications.

The Home Building Permit: Vital, Not Optional

Building permits are vital and necessary parts of any project. Many people think that they are optional items that are not required. The easiest way to doom your home building project is to build out of code and without permits. Anytime it’s suggested that you don’t need a permit, it’s time to call the building department yourself and get an explanation directly.

The permit is designed to protect you, the homeowner, from shoddy work by a contractor. Knowing that an inspector will review all work completed by the contractor, to ensure adherence to building code, will provide you with satisfaction that the work was done right.
When work is completed without a permit, you can be forced to remove the work completed. This could mean tearing down a part or all of your new home. Even worse, if you were to sell the home you are legally obligated to disclose the fact that you completed work without a permit.

When Do You Need A Home Building Permit?

Generally when:
  • the work done changes the layout of your home
  • the work shifts the location of load-bearing beams / walls
  • the work requires new / moved electrical wiring
  • the work involves natural gas lines

Work that is deemed remodeling, like installing new doors or changing faucets, as well as installing new flooring, does not require a permit.

Permits do have a cost associated with them, and should be built into the cost of new home construction. Likewise, your builder should be responsible for taking care of the permitting process and paying any associated fees. As previously mentioned, it’s always best to make sure you have everything in line and in good working order. The lack of permits and the lack of proper building techniques can adversely impact your new home and the time required to complete the project.

Local Building Codes and Permits: Due Dilligence Goes A Long Way

Throughout the years, many contractors have come to despise the process of obtaining permits as they often involve a “hassle” and extra time. Unfortunately, there is no excuse for failure to comply with rules and regulations clearly outlined. Any contractor that asks you to deal with the permitting process is probably someone you don’t want to work with.

At the end of the day, a little due diligence on your part can go a long way to ensure you’re working with a quality home builder. While hiccups will inevitably occur along the way, don’t let legal issues derail your plans. Few people would hire a builder/contractor with no license and no insurance; why in the world would you hire a builder/contractor that was willing to overlook the permitting process?