It is surprising how many homes in the Lenoir, Morganton, and Hickory area have had electrical and plumbing work done, and whole rooms added, without a building permit.
In fact, there is one home which has been sitting abandoned, uninhabitable, and unable to be sold as a residence for decades, on a main road near Catawba Valley Medical Center. The reason it's unlivable - the owner neglected to obtain a building permit, so he cannot recieve a certificate of occupancy, and cannot have power and utilities connected to the house.
Many times, the owners may not have known one was needed, or considered them a waste of money, so I hope this will help people to understand when they are needed and why they are important.
Two common misbeliefs are that building permits are only for new construction, and only for contractors and builders. In fact, they are necessary for many projects on existing homes, and are still required even if the homeowner is doing the work themself.
Building permits are important for many reasons:
◘ They protect the homeowner's safety by insuring that the work is safe and up to code.
◘ They protect the value of the home by recording any additional square footage, and by preventing problems that can occur with sales where work has been performed out of code.
◘ They protect the homeowner in case of a fire or other problem in the addition. If a home is damaged or destroyed and problem occurs as a result of electrical or plumbing work without a permit, or in an un-permitted addition to the home, then the insurance company can refuse coverage for the claim.
◘ They are the law. Violating North Carolina law by not obtaining a building permit when one is needed is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
So, when might a building permit be necessary? :
In North Carolina, building permits are regulated by NCGS (North Carolina General Statutes) 153Aa-357 (for Counties) and 160a-417 (for cities). You can read either of these laws by clicking on the numbers in the previous sentence, but many people are still confused by them, so I will try to list some of the most common times when a permit will be needed and some of the most common exceptions.
In general, a building permit is necessary for any work affecting a load-bearing structure (exterior, and load-bearing walls, joist and flooring supports, roof and roof supports, and decking), plumbing, electrical work, heating and air conditioning, and anything else with costs exceeding $5,000.
(For more specific information on when a building permit is required in North Carolina, please see the second part of this article, "When Do I Need A Building Permit?").