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Permits or No Permits?…That is the question.

Have you ever seen a home for sale with a room that was not permitted?  Most likely the sellers attempted to complete an addition in the name of ‘saving money’ without obtaining the requisite permits, inspections and documentation.

What they didn’t know is that they would most likely end up paying more money in the long run in order to have the city sign off on the room. By not obtaining the requisite permits, inspections and documentation the sellers cheated themselves out of the increased value to their home, because in the city’s eyes if an addition is not permitted the space does not exist.

It does not make sense to spend money on a ‘phantom room’.  So, if you are going to remodel, do it right to avoid problems down the line by obtaining the requisite permits, inspections and documentation.

The safety of building occupants is the primary reason for having building codes and permits are the way cities help ensure construction on your home complies with those building codes and are safe.  Building permits are typically required for any home improvement, repair, alteration, construction or demolition project.  Check your local building ordinances for details about building code requirements in your city.

Note that there are some instances in which adjusting your plans so permits are not required makes sense. For example, in the city where I live the following are exempt from building permits:

•Fences not over 6 feet high
•Retaining walls which are not over 4 feet in height, measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall

So, when I had my back yard re-landscaped, I purposely decided to have a garden wall built (i.e. < 4 ft in height) to take advantage of the exemption.

Whatever remodeling project you decide to pursue, make sure your contractor pulls permits, if required. If a contractor asks you to pull your own permits, find a different contractor.  Why? Because a contractor is more qualified and better prepared than most homeowners to navigate the permitting process and respond to building department questions which in turn saves you time, money and stress.


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