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Your home is your castle. Many homeowners want to make improvements to their homes but then learn they need to get permits. Building permits can be an inconvenience but are an important part of construction work.


The Basics

Building permits are controlled by the local government. They’re used to ensure that commercial buildings and homes are safe for people to inhabit. Structures must be constructed to a building code. Mechanical systems must be safe for inhabitants and neighbors. Negative effects from things like fires and natural disasters should be minimized.


Not all construction work needs a permit. Smaller cosmetic work can be done without it. However, if your plan entails structural components or mechanical systems, a permit is probably needed.


The Process

The application process varies from location to location. Often your contractor will be the one doing it for you. But if you’re doing the construction work yourself, you’ll be the one needing to deal with the paperwork.


The cost can be sizable. It depends on the scope and it can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Don’t start the construction work until your application is approved.


Once your project is approved, there might be additional visits from the local government to take a look at the construction work. There’ll most probably be the last inspection to take a final look at the work to approve it. Waiting for it can take weeks, so be sure to schedule your appointments properly.


The Danger of Un-permitted Work

Some homeowners might be tempted to do work without a permit. They might not want to deal with the paperwork, pay the hefty fees, or wait for the department to do its inspections. But it can be a mistake for multiple reasons.


If the city finds out that you did un-permitted work, you might be fined large sums of money. You might also have to get the work modified and retroactively approved. This could take a large sum of money and would have been probably cheaper if you had done it properly the first time around.


It could also be an issue when you put the house up for sale. Buyers don’t like un-permitted work as there are a lot of unknowns. There’s no record of who did the work or if it was up to code. Un-permitted work has a reputation of poor quality.


Home permits are necessary for construction work. It’s important to familiarize yourself with how they work.