If you’re considering a renovation project, it’s likely you’re going to need a building permit. Building permits can be obtained from the building department in your city or county. If you’re just doing minor cosmetic touch-ups, you probably won’t need a building permit. But if you’re messing about with plumbing, wiring, or the structure of a building on your property, it’s probably time to start looking into acquiring a building permit. Though they can seem like a hassle, building permits ultimately protect you, your property, and the people working on your property. Failing to obtain a building permit could result in your project being delayed, a fine, and ultimately, a risk to you and your family. It’s far easier to abide by the rules, obtain a permit, and make sure you’ve covered all your bases.
Why Do Building Permits Matter?
Building permits make sure that everyone is protected. They necessitate that an inspector signs off at different points of the work — this will vary, depending on the project — and makes sure that everything is up to code. Since construction rules change frequently, having a permit and inspector on site means that you’re following the latest rules and safety guidelines that will keep you and your family safe.
It’s also a good way to make sure that your contractor is trustworthy — if they don’t seek out the appropriate permits, it may mean that they have something to hide. On a personal note, not having a permit can also influence your insurance coverage and cost you money in fines if you’re discovered to not have one. And, they may require an inspection of work you’ve already done, even if that means undoing some of it, further costing you money.
What’s the General Process of Obtaining a Building Permit?
You’ll need to first outline your project in as much detail as possible, so you can get a sense of how large the project will be. The planning department must then review the plan and approve it — and if you have a homeowners association, you may also need to run your plan by them as well. After the planning department approves, it gets passed off to the building department for review, which checks if it follows building code.
Keep in mind that if you’re hiring a professional (such as an architect or contractor), they may actually take on the submittal process. At the least, they can offer knowledgeable advice on how to proceed.
You’ll also want to make sure that you’re thinking about permit fees when you draw up your budget for the house. Generally for securing a permit for a contractor, you’ll spend between $200-$400 and for filing a project, between $1,500 to $3,500. There may also be fees associated with inspections, reviews, and development.
Once the final inspections are done, then you’ll be granted your building permit, and it should be smooth sailing from there.
I’m in a Rush! How Long Is This Going to Take?
Waiting for a building permit can often take up to about a month, though that time can fluctuate, depending on your structure and the proposed renovations. However, if you’re in a hurry and can’t wait the usual length of time for your residential building permit to come through, you may want to think about using a building permit expediter. A permit expeditor can help get you your permit in record time — and also takes care of the dreary work, like waiting in line at the building department, and filing your request.
In other words, they save you lots of time — not just on obtaining the request — but also throughout the whole process. They can free you up to pay attention to the other aspects of your renovation.
If you’re unsure about whether or not you need a permit, it’s better to ask rather than to assume you don’t need one. It could save you hassle farther down on your construction journey and makes sure that everyone stays safe and going the right direction.