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Building Permits

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I was reading a blog earlier about an agent that was trying to get someone’s buyer to sign a waiver on a home that it was safe and that it didn't need any permits for the remodeling that it had underwent. Click here to read that blog. This got me to thinking so I decided to write a little on building permits.

Building permits are a requirement in many jurisdictions in the country. These permits are enacted in order for the protection of the residents and for the local government to ensure the contractors are staying within the codes set forth by the building codes. Many people believe these permits aren't necessary or view them as burden, thinking the permits fees are very expensive. In most counties and cities I have worked, the fees for the permits are either calculated by a percentage of the total building cost, or by a flat fee. Depending upon the local area, you may need a permit for construction, electrical, plumbing, zoning, and other changes made to your property. Also dependant upon the local codes to when a permit is required varies from local to local. In some locals just changing a light switch or an outlet will require an issuance of electrical permit.

 Many people run across those contractors who will insist that you don't need permit. There can be many reasons why this particular contractor is insistent upon not obtaining a permit, it can be because they don't hold the valid license for the type of work required by state laws, don't have the local business license, no insurance, or even perhaps they been in a legal proceedings that has forbid them from doing business in that particular location. If you have any doubt that a permit is required for your project feel free to give your local building inspector a call or visit your local building department and ask questions. It's better to ask now and then later try to play dumb when you are caught without a permitted structure that the building code enforcement can require you to bring it into compliance or worst to demolish it and start all over.

My advice when buying a property is to be sure that any structural changes or additions were properly permitted by the local government or you could find yourself holding the liability of paying for the other property owner’s negligence.

Comments (2)

Todd Clark - Retired
eXp Realty LLC - Tigard, OR
Principle Broker Oregon

Henry, I don't mind if you put a link back to my post to show what can happen if you come across an owner that tries to get you to believe that a permit is not required. I agree if it is required, get it even if you don't want to. It is a lot less for the permit than what the lawyer will cost if someone gets hurt by you or your contractors work.

Todd Clark, Helping Families Home - www.IFoundYourNewHome.com

Aug 02, 2008 05:21 PM
Henry Birchfield
Henry's Drafting and Design Services - Winchester, KY

Todd, yeah that never occured to me to link back I was in a little hurry. I've even had homeowner one to request me not to obtain a permit when I did an addition for them. Somehow they thought it would lower my bid by 1500 dollars if I took out the cost of the permit. As the lower bidder told them they didn't need the permit and their bid was about 1500 lower than mine, so I explained to them the consquences of not getting a permit and getting caught by the building inspector how much more they could potentially have to pay for that addition. That changed their tune and I was hired to do the job.

Aug 02, 2008 06:12 PM