House permit required on private land?

kelsie94August 28, 2013

We recently purchased 2 1/2 acres and was wondering if permits are required from the rural municipality before building a home? We have a carpenter, electrician and plumber all lined up, and will obviously have their work inspected along the way.
We are just wondering if the RM needs to know of the build even though its on private land. Hope that makes sense! We live 500 miles from where we purchased so just cant run to their office, and would like your thoughts before we call them. Thanks!

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Yes, as far as I have ever known you always need a building permit. Whether or not you will get caught without one is an entirely different question.

Isn't building always done on private land? No one is trying to build homes in public spaces.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 11:06PM
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Depends on the municipality. I'm rural too and the only permits I had to get were driveway permit (in order to link up to public road) and septic permit (required by the state). Other rural areas may require a full range of permits just as if you were living in the middle of a city. The fact that you're building on private land doesn't matter. Everybody builds on private land. It's just that people in rural areas typically have a bigger chunk of it that people building on a lot in the city.

If you're going to be hiring a builder (general contractor), in your contract make it HIS responsibility to pull all required permits. It may bump the price up a tiny bit to compensate him for the cost of the permits and his time, but if he has experience building in that area, he'll already know exactly what kinds of permits you need and where to go to get them.

If you plan to owner-build, then you'll have to find out what permits are required and get them for yourself. If you know what office to call, go ahead and call. They won't think you're stupid just because you tell them that you're from out of the area, have bought land in the area and plan to build but haven't got a clue what kinds of permits you're going to need. They'll be happy to educate you.

If you don't even know what office to call, start by doing a search for the word "permit" and your county name and state. If that doesn't pull anything up, try going to the county's website (practically every county has one by now!) and looking thru it for any county agency or county office that seems to be related to building or development. If you can't find anything, call the clerk at the county court and ask if he/she can point you in the right direction. In rural areas, the county clerk will often know everybody in the area and generally what their jobs are. If all else fails, ask a neighbor who has already built! Once you find one "permitting authority" they can usually tell you what other permits you need or at least point you in the right direction of who to ask.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 11:29PM
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Odds are you will need some permits. There are a few rare outposts left where you can get away with it, but not many.

If you build on the sly without a permit and live in an area where they are required, you can be fined and even forced to tear the structure down. You may run into trouble getting insurance on an illegal structure as well.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 6:47AM
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Varies state to state, and county to county!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 8:25AM
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As others have said, permit requirements vary with each jurisdiction. You will really have to contact your local jurisdiction to find out about their specific requirements.

That said, permits (and inspections) exist to ensure that construction is in compliance with applicable ordinances, regulations and adopted codes, thus helping protect health and safety, plus your financial investment and resale value.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 8:36AM
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Even if the local jurisdiction doesn't have much of a permitting process, the state still has overall building codes that should be complied with. It's the minimum requirements for your health and safety in your home. You can always build better than code, just like you can always strive for an A on a test instead of a D.

In locations where not a lot of permitting is needed, the big things that usually need oversight from the building or health authorities are the septic system, your well, and your electrical and plumbing. Some of that is controlled by your local Health Department, as they impact your community's health and safety, not just yours.

If the home has simple structural requirements, framing might not be too much of an issue to worry about, but if you've got a lot of open space spans and a complex roof line, you for sure need an engineer's stamp on the building plans before proceeding. Same with the foundation. If you're in a location without a lot of frost depth or soil movement, your foundation may be simple enough that you don't need to worry about the oversight of a municipal inspection. If a basement or expansive clay soils are involved though, that's another aspect that needs to be designed by an engineer.

In a lot of cases, with a cash build in an area that doesn't have a lot of oversight, your insurance company may want to have an inspector to view the property to be sure it complies with national building codes in order to get homeowner's insurance. Don't forget the builder's risk policy and liability policy to cover you while you are building as well. Again, even if there aren't municipal inspections involved, your insurance may want something to be sure that you're building a compliant structure.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 9:54AM
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I live in a rural municipality, and yes, permits are required here.

Curious as to the private land comment, though... surely no one builds a house on public property, right?

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 10:13AM
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Not all areas require an engineer's stamp for roofs or basements. We've built two houses in two different states without an engineer's stamp for either one. Never problems with either one. Both times we used very experienced builders. Both locations had/have clay soils.

Our septic though, that required an engineer's stamp.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 10:25AM
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kelsie94 lives in Canada, which is obviously not enough information for us to offer a specific answer.

Here is a link that might be useful: National Building Code of Canada

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 10:29AM
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Thanks for all the responces. I guess my wording of 'private' land was a bit confusing. Where we currently live, we own our homes but not the land. We are moving to the country and have 'purchased' land, hence my calling it 'private'. I do have the municipality's number but thought I'd throw out the question to see what others knew as well. I'm a newbie to this site and have gained a lot of valuable information from reading many posts! Once we start our build I'm sure to have more questions! Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 10:45PM
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