Remodeling without a permit?

natewallMarch 23, 2006

A contractor I am/was considering to do remodeling work where plumbing and electrical additions will be made told me the following when we were discussing the job:

"Why bother with getting a permit, we will do the job correctly. Not getting a permit will save you time (no delays waiting for inspections) and money. There is no need to"

I am real nervious about this advise. Not so much because of concern of the work being done incorrectly, but because of the neighbors. The fellow two doors down told me one day that the guy between us called the County on him for various things (they have a feud going on). I noticed on my County's web site a form to repoprt aledged/suspected work without permits. You can file the report online.

Here's my question: If one has work done (new plumbing and a new electrical circuit wired) in conjunction with the remodel job and a complaint is filed and an investigation opened, what happens to the homeowner that had the work done? How serious an offense is this? Will the inspector drop by and demand to see the wiring and plumbing work and request that the drywall be removed to view it? This would be a nightmare if this were to happen after the job was completed.

This advice from this contractor sounds just plain bad.



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I'd seriously question a contractor that was urging you to avoid permitting. Is he licensed by the state? I'd check his credentials out thoroughly before considering using his services. What state and county are you in?

In my county, inspections can be scheduled by phone and they come out the next day. A good contractor knows this and will schedule the inspection and have something else to do while waiting for the inspector to approve. It isn't like you should be waiting weeks for that.

Worst case, if the city gets wind of it you may have to remove the drywall and let them inspect the work. If it isn't up to code, you may have to redo it all. You could get fined. And it might be grounds for your insurance company to deny a claim if you have a loss related to the unpermitted work.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 11:13AM
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If you get caught doing work without permits, your planning department is likely to issue a STOP order and post a very large and highly conspicuous sign on the front of your house. Depending upon the infraction, they could then order the removal of all improvements done without permits (which could require demolition permits), force you and your contractor to pay fines, and you'd still have to pay for permits, regardless of whether you then go ahead with the work or not. Not only that, but inspectors are likely to be much more nit-picky than they might have been if you had taken out the proper permits in the first place. On top of all that, getting through all the red tape is likely to delay your project for weeks or even months.

I would never work with a contractor who suggested doing work without permits. If he's a shady character in one area -- he's likely to be shady in others. Find yourself a reputable contractor.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 11:32AM
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I, too, have heard that a homeowner's policy may become invalid for related claims via unpermitted work. Anyone have first-hand knowledge to confirm this?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 11:47AM
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In my town the inspectors are pains in the butt and getting a permit is just a waste of time. Plus I already pay $9000 in taxes why give them another reason to raise it more.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 12:49PM
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If you ever plan on selling the place, get the permit. Especially electrical. I found it makes the property more sellable, not more valuble, just easier to sell. If you are going to live there forever, maybe take the chance. Although, I've been told of people in counties around me were trying to do a quick house flip and were noticed by the inspectors. Once they put the house up for sale the county was able to get involved and make them tear stuff down and get it inspected.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 2:31PM
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And also remember that, if you ever sell, you have to certify in the disclosure statement whether all remodeling work included necessary permits. If you lie about this and the buyer later discovers it, you can be sued. Yes, inspectors can be a pain in the butt...but you don't know how big a pain until you have an unpermitted job discovered.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 3:17PM
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All cities are different. Some cities do inspections when you sell a house which could spell big trouble without a permit. Some cities do not. If you have nosey neighbors you may want to get permits. They also cant just walk into your house. They can ask to come in which you can say NO. Then they have to go in front of a judge and tell them why they want to get into your house and what evidence they have. The judge can say yeah or neah. I agree about to much in taxes. My city even charges a percentage of what materials cost for the price of the permit.

1 Like    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 1:03PM
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Even if a neighbor doesn't report you, sometimes the inspectors drive around or will notice work being done at your place when they inspect work down the street.

I pulled the general permits myself, but my contractors' names were on them. My GC pulled the special permits. In my jurisdiction, the cost of the permit varies with the cost of the project. I was told that *everyone* fudges on what they put down as the cost of the project. I had one permit dept. person say, "Your project costs more than that!" and he increased the amount. Computer was down that day, so (after waiting 1.5 hrs -- no wonder my GC didn't want to go there!) I couldn't get a permit anyway. A few days later, the permit lady said, "That's too much!" and reduced the cost of the project after I said I wanted a second permit, since I had a second GC on a different project. Go figure.

If you ever have to sell in a buyer's market, the permit will give you an edge.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 6:03PM
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Get the permits.

Two stories. A new neighbor rented out her garage as a studio apartment, which is illegal here. Someone in the neighborhood notified the city and they paid her a visit. In retaliation she named another neighbor (someone who'd had nothing to do with the incident), who had been renting a similar studio for ten years to the same person. Illegal, yes, but they were both (owner and renter) very, very nice people. The city visited her as well and forced her to cease renting. Without the rent she couldn't afford her home, which she then sold and moved to a tiny house half the size of the previous one.

Shortly after that, an inspector visited new neighbor (from whom I stay far away) again, and, looking at our property, noticed a strange little chimney on our deck. He came stomping over and told me that it wasn't code and that we would have to get rid of it immediately, which we did (we had no idea of the infraction).

New neighbor is illegally renting again, but now everyone ignores her.

Get the permits.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 6:38PM
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Why screw around with nickel and dime stuff like working without a permit when you can make real money? Go ahead and rob a bank.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 9:34PM
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I guess Mag is just "Captain One Liner" tonight.....

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 10:17PM
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Around here (San Diego area) most people don't pull permits unless they are adding square footage and/or doing major changes that affect the number of bedrooms and/or bathrooms. Not to say that they couldn't or shouldn't (it's nice to have a seal of approval to know that things are being done to code), but inspectors can often be more trouble than they're worth.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2006 at 12:25AM
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Sandy Eggo, eh? Dipsy Dumpster is a friend of mine.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2006 at 9:57PM
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The reason for codes and permits is to make sure the work is being done properly. Not only for you, but for everyone that purchases the house after you, and for your neighbors. Would you purchase a new home with no inspections? Do you believe if there were no codes Every contractor would do the work properly? Do you believe in the Easter Bunny? As a contractor I always pulled permits, and found, if an inspector was over zealous, I did what he or she asked for. After a few jobs, I rarely had problems with them, they knew I did the job right, didn't take short cuts and in fact, sometimes didn't even check my jobs.
Get the permits, if a contractor tells you not to, that is exactly when I WOULD get one. Unless he does very little work, he should have a working relationship with the inspectors and it should be no problem.
Good Luck

    Bookmark   March 25, 2006 at 11:42PM
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The whole permitting thing has turned into a game of catch me if you can and a revenue source in many places.
In Virginia permits are required to replace a roof, but no inspection is ever performed.
You are supposed to get a permit to hang drywall also. So when does making a repair become 'hanging drywall'?
Any electric work besides replacing a fixture with a like wattage fixture also requires a permit. Inspections are not actually performed on these jobs.
The electric is often a joke. I have a recently remodeled kitchen that passed. There is 6 feet of wall counter with 1 receptacle. There is another portion around a corner between the stove and the sink that has 2, but requires 3 to meet the code. There is one behind a corner sink (not needed or useful), and another stretch 5 feet long with a single receptacle.
The electric panel has new circuits with neutral run to a ground bar. While grounds and neutrals can be landed on the same bar in a main panel, if you add an extra ground bar you cannot land neutrals on it. Since it is a CH panel, at least the bar is isolated. But having 8 20 amp circuits (all on the same leg) using a single #8 bare return to the actual neutral bar is wrong and dangerous. They did not even bother using insulated wire.
The plumbing is a mess of ABD joined to PVC DWV lines. The nice black ABS glued to the snow white PVC. It is really easy to see. The joining of these two with solvent cement is prohibited.

As a PE, I can inspect larger jobs and sign off on them without the actual government inspector setting foot on the site. There wood building structural analysis has been a long term joke though. They rarely question stamped plans, but every once in a while it happens. I have seen work so shoddy come back from the inspection office as a question I would have fired anyone doing it.
And they already had one complete write up to show them how to do the calculations.

There are jurisdictions that try to enforce more. In NJ occupancy permits are reissued when a sale occurs. This gives the inspectors a chance to come in and see if they can find anything. I have not heard of there being significantly fewer code problems in NJ.

There are good legal reasons for having the contractor pull the permits. It gives one more weapon to use in the event of an inspection failure. VA contractors are licensed (though it is easy to get a license).
If the owner pulls the permit the contractor cannot have his license revoked for inspection failures and not making good on the work.
I pull permits on all work that requires them, but it does cost the clients extra money. Typically about $300 to $400 depending on how log I have to stand around waiting for the Âpowers that be to collect the fees.
It is so bad that for very large jobs I hire a service that does nothing but pull permits. Better there time than mine.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2006 at 5:01PM
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I think I can see both sides of this, but we always pull a permit if we know it is required for the work being done. But, just this morning my husband asked me to go pick up the permit for slate roof repair on our home. I responded that a permit was required only if we were replacing more than 1/4 of the roof. He explained that the dollar amount of the repair generated the requirement for the permit. (I also want the people working on my slippery roof to have liability insurance.) So, if I did the repair myself would the dollar amount not require a permit? You can be sure I will ask about this when I go to pick up the permit. Even if I pull the permit, the company I have hired is required to have proof of liability insurance on file at the codes office in order for the permit to be approved.

If I disagree with the answer about dollar amount of this repair, I will take the issue up with local authorities. I won't simply ignore the need for a permit because I don't LIKE the guidelines. While the regulations may be a pain, my husband feels that honesty and integrity are demonstrated by doing the right thing. I realize these guidelines vary from municipality to municipality. Permits are not expensive here and that may also sway my opinion.

brickeyee, I have the utmost respect for you and the repair advice you offer to these forums. What I am about to describe is not about hanging drywall or repairing a roof. At least three of my neighbors have expressed excitement about the new bathrooms they have had put in. I would not seek review for such changes. If they hadn't mentioned them, I would not have known they were done.

I think, no, I know, I am seen as the bad guy by one of my neighbors. This is the only time I have questioned a neighbor's need to obtain a permit because a new structure was being built without required permit, variance, or historic district approval. I know how many of you feel about historic districts, but these people chose to live here and were fully aware of the need for approvals before purchase of their home. These neighbors decided to build a garage size structure at the rear of their property which is adjacent to the side of my property. They would not be able to access this building in order to store their vehicle in it. They have no driveway and have only a very narrow walkway between their home and the neighbor's attached home. (Most of these homes were built in the 1840s and autos weren't a consideration.) They finally agreed to seek the appropriate approval, variance requirement, and permit application. We tried to talk to them first, they lied about approval, and we sought intervention from our borough. They were already at maximum building coverage on their lot and maximum impervious coverage. The structure they started to build also did not meet historic district requirements. They also stated in writing on their request that they needed this building in order to store flammables and toxic substances that they did not want in or near their home. (This structure would be much closer to my home that to the rear of their home.) They sought no prior approval and they met none of the requirements needed for a permit. This structure was being built 10ft from my kitchen. We are not talking about acre lots here. They were denied all approvals, variances, and permits. They view us as the problem and do not speak to us. We do not view this as a "feud" even if they see us as their problem and choose to be angry with us. That is their prerogitive. They may be projecting their anger on me because they couldn't do what they wanted to do. I think that energy is misplaced, but they can feel any way they want to feel. They may view this as a "feud" but they are alone in that perspective.

I never concern myself with interior work or appropriate external repairs to an existing structure. If you are following published guidelines, I don't question your work or whether you have a permit. There are established guidelines for exterior changes on primary fascades and they are pretty flexible, but you can't just do what you want to do. We have very small lots because of the type of area we live in here. Drainage can be an issue. If you were constructing a new structure or building an addition, I would not lose sleep over a request for you to have the appropriate approval and follow zoning requirements including setbacks, building coverage, and impervious coverage. Once you have approval, I do not concern myself with interior mechanical systems. That then becomes the responsibilty of others.

Being angy with me over these sorts of requests is similar to hating the person who catches you with your hand in the cookie jar. Some of this is a matter of degree of structural change and impact on neighboring properties. Neighbors have a right to question changes done without permits that may affect propety values. If you are willing to take the risk, you should be willing to accept any consequences which may follow. No fines are involved here. You are simply asked to halt construction and seek the approvals you should have had to begin with. This sometimes results in a denial or alteration of plans. You may also be required to dismantle work you have started. You may incur costs associated with materials and deposits, but that is not a "fine".

I think the concept of "reasonable" comes into play with much of this. Again, my concerns include anything that is external, can effect my property value, and such things as drainage issues. Isn't that reasonable?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 8:40AM
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For me it depends what you are doing...

Personally, I would never pull a permit in MY city for finishing a basement. However, I'm different than a lot of folks and read as much as I can about the code and even though I don't pull a permit for basement work I still do it to code as much as possible.

My city is notorious for picky inspectors adding thousands of dollars to a project for no good reason. In fact if you get a quote from ANY contractor in my area, they ask if you're pulling a permit, and if you are, they up their price several hundred dollars just to compensate for the ludicrious inspectors.

Combine that with the fact that I already pay insanely high taxes and that is why I do not pull a permit.

However if I was adding on an additional room, rebuilding a roof, or doing anything MAJOR like that, I probably would pull one.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 10:30AM
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Also to the person who said you can be taken to court for not pulling a permit if you sell the house and something happens, that is technically not true.

Obviously if you LIE about it, then you could, so the moral of the story is don't lie about it if you don't pull one. If they ask about it then say you didn't pull one. They'll buy the house anyway.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 10:35AM
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You need to read up on the "national unethnical Code" that states," a permit must first be obtained before a planned bank robbery".

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 10:54AM
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Don't worry Nate, we won't let you make a mess of things by not getting permits.

I had a neighbor who finished her basement without permits. When it came time to sell, they gave her a hard time. The qualified buyer that she found couldn't wait. The sale fell through. She din't find another buyer for a very long time.

I have written before about getting permits under my own name. That's ok. You'll still get inspection. You'll stilll be legal, but it will be easier to deal with. But, espeially if you are not experienced, you don't know what the contractor could pull if no one is looking over his shoulder. DON'T do it!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 7:23PM
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Don't be under the impression that getting permits (and therefore, inspectors who look at the work) means you will get a higher quality of work or that mistakes will be caught.

When we had our oil furnace and central air replaced, we were required by our town (in NJ) to have 4 inspections: electrical, plumbing, fire and safety (?). We had 3 different guys to do the 4 inspections. Now, due to the nice weather, neither unit was actually running during any of the inspections.

None of the inspectors were here for more than a minute or two. Even better, not one of those inspectors asked me to turn either unit on! How good could any of those inspections be?!?

It is a great money maker for the town, though.

I'm not suggesting that you skip the permits. I'm simply saying that it may not protect you from shoddy work. Caveat Emptor!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 8:16AM
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And certainly nobody thinks that the governing agency will assume any liability for inspected work that proves to be faulty later on, do they? I had a home inspection done when we bought our NEW home and they found several code violations.

90% of the paper trail involved with permits in my area are for one thing only: updating the tax records.

If you're worried about dotting all the i's then get the permits. If you're worried about shoddy workmanship or safety issues get an independent inspector to look at the work.

I've never heard of anyone that balked on purchasing a house because of the outside chance that some remodeling didn't have the proper paper trail.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 8:49AM
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We are not getting permits. Our area requires them for major footprint changes etc. Our contractor is so well known and you can't find anyone who doesn't sing his praises. Our house is FULL of subpar electrical systems and water heater venting problems that passed inspection in the past w/ different owners. The current contractor said, "when we are through I am going to make sure it is all up to code". I am going to watch, listen and ask questions and hope that we come out OK .

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 10:22AM
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"Don't be under the impression that getting permits (and therefore, inspectors who look at the work) means you will get a higher quality of work or that mistakes will be caught. "

This is absolutely true. My house is 1 year old, and I can go through it and find DOZENS of code violations. I report them to the builder and the city "oh, well, too late, the C of O (Certificate of Occupancy) was already issued". So if my house burns down because they wired 20 freaking outlets on a circuit you think the city or the buider can be held liable? Hell no.

Unless you or the contractors are completely incompetent, permits are a waste of time and money and just an open letter to your city to say "PLEASE RAISE MY TAXES, I'M NOT PAYING ENOUGH".

I do think it's important to build to code though. Read up on the code as much as possible, but don't bother with the permit especially for something simple like a basement finish.

I'd like to see someone come through my basement and tell me they're not buying because I didn't pull a permit. I'd laugh in their face and say "good luck" and "don't let the door hit you on the way out". Guaranteed the next guy that comes through would bite. I'd say less than 25% of basement finishes are done with a permit in my area. The inspectors are pains in the butt, not very competent, and you're just raising your taxes for no reason.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 11:16PM
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I thought long and hard about getting into this debate. Let me say that we are licensed master electricians in Dallas. I have been criticized frequently for mentioning this. On a personal note, when we purchased our present home 35 years ago it was evident that a large family room had been added on. It never occoured to me to ask if the work was done to code by licensed people who pulled the required permits. When we pull permits it is for a specific property but it is between us and the City of Dallas. The property owner can see the green inspection tag knowing that our work has passed inspection. The permit is always posted where it can be easily seen and read. On the other hand, there are customers that do not want us to pull permits and will not give us the work if we press the issue. We are well know by the Dallas inspectors and they rarely actually come out and inspect our work. Now there is an issue related to new electrical work. If you have a whole house rewire including a service entrance up to code and a new service panel, you can apply to your insurance carrier for a rate reduction. In this case they are going to want to know if the work was done to code by a licensed electrician doing permit work, when the work was done and what the improvements were. We also do work for licensed general contractors who in our experience always pull general permits for all work being performed. As we tradesmen progress through our work stage inspections are called. Now, all of this begs the questions, how good are the subs and how knowledgable are the inspectors? On the other hand, we work for a few very excellent GCs who are not going to give us the work if we cause problems with inspectors due to the quality of our work.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 9:34AM
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Just one question for those of you who do not get permits because it will raise your taxes:

Will you expect an increase in the value
of your home based on these improvements
if you decide to sell your home?

Okay, another question if you say "yes" to the first question. Isn't that a little like wanting to have your cake and eat it too?

I have no issue with the interior work you do if the answer to #1 is "no".

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 6:27PM
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It ain't no big deal, go get the permit. Yea those inspectors can be a pain and the few dollars you spend on the permit is disgusting but that might be better than the alterntative.

I would guess your contractor will get by with the least amount he can do to get the job done. I bet he will not go above and beyond any code requirements to enhance his work even if he has the permit. Codes are a minimum standard of which to build. Tell me your house was built to code and I will tell you, you probably ain't got much of a house!! Now that statement should set some of you off!!

Seems to me your man might be enclined to less than the minimum if you allow him to work without the permit. Then your house catches on fire sending the neighbors garage up in a blaze, thus burning up his brand new SUV. Now where did you go wrong, you saved all that time and money necessary to pull a permit and allowing substandard work as a result of reading some recommendations from some expert on this post, telling you to do the work without the permit. Now you have to explain all this to your insurance company and the local fire department, as to where you got your advice. Bet they will be empressed at your frugalness!!

Just kidding, but I do believe I would get the permit, if for no other reason, your neighbor and your safety.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 6:53PM
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I like to complain about city hall as much as anyone, but if you want to run with the big dogs, be professional and get the appropriate licenses and permits.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 7:51PM
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I've never heard of a *buyer* balking at a purchase because there was no paper trail of renovation/improvements.

Heard plenty about banks refusing to provide loans though, for housing that didn't meet code, or had been converted to a two unit structure where zoning didn't allow it. (Clearly, no permits pulled there.) "They'll buy it anyway," only applies to the independently wealthy who don't need a loan.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 8:47AM
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Getting a permit is laudable, however it does not guarantee quality workmanship. Lets face it, the permit business is a wolf in sheeps clothing - permits are supposed to protect the customer from bad workmanship. However in reality the permit/inspection excercise just enables the town jurisdiction to raise your real estate taxes.
In many cases, for example for older houses, the valuation/real estate tax assessment should work the other way - taxes should go DOWN as the house becomes outmoded. This does not happen, lets take as an example an old house with an old kitchen and ancient electricals - that house's tax assessment should go DOWN - but to rewire it to bring it up just to current code, taxes go UP! Its a one way street for the tax and spend folks.
The whole parmit/inspection should work but its in reality just become a taxraising scam/make work exercise. In addition what are contractors state licenses worth if their work has to be inspected by inspectors? Doesnt this prove that licencing contractors is just a money spinning scam as well?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 9:56PM
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Let's all face it. The decision of whether of not to get a permit is totally dependant on your local government and the nosiness of the neighbors. Do whatever will keep you out of trouble.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 12:21AM
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I'd like to know what kind of work requires a permit. I'd call the Village and ask but they'd know who I was by their Caller ID! :(

If you're just REPLACING something inside (like old tile with new tile, old sink with new sink) and not adding on, not doing any electrical, etc, is a permit generally required? When we built a deck I got a permit: that was outside and I considered it as an addition to the house.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 12:29AM
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My guess is that every jurisdiction has its own rules - depending on how greedy that jurisdiction is. In my last house it was OK to retile a bathroom or a splashback or replace a sink or toilet or bath. However if you did all those things at the same time it was considered a remodel which required a permit! Go figure.
In my case I completely renovated all my bathrooms from the studs out with no permit - with workmen who were extremely high quality and who brought all the specs up to code - and some. Who is to say in retrospect that this bathroom work wasn't done over time in stages? After say five or ten years who can say when the work was actually performed anayway - maybe it was the previous owners?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 8:50AM
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"I, too, have heard that a homeowner's policy may become invalid for related claims via unpermitted work. Anyone have first-hand knowledge to confirm this?"

I think it probably depends upon many factors; for what it's worth, supposedly this occured with regard to fires in two homes in our township. IMO, anyone who assumes this is not "true" should make CERTAIN it is not true with their insurer...since that is a VERY costly assumption to make if wrong.

That said, in NJ, the rules vary from municipality to municipality; when a home is sold, many still just require that the code official pay a visit and make certain that the smoke detectors exist and work...and the same for carbon monoxide detectors. Others (such as Carteret) will visit, and will indeed require tear out for any improvement that requires a permit for which none was pulled...nor finals issued.

Our town just recently passed an ordinance, requiring all sellers to obtain a "Construction Records Clearance" in order for the title to change hands. The only way to get one? The code official pays a visit; any improvements not on file will be noted...and one must then apply for the permits and finals..or else, no sale. I don't know if they will require tear out...that remains to be seen...and if so, will probably be on a case by case basis.

Also, in NJ, as of the end of 2005, all home improvement contractors must be registerd with the state...and, if not, they are not legally allowed to work on a home for renumeration, nor can they pull permits. That said, if one hires them nonetheless, any insurance that they have may not cover the work, since they are in violation of the law.

Bottom line, there is no set depends upon where one lives...and new rules are made all of the time.

All in all, it is foolhardy, to say the least, to make assumptions regarding this issue.

Best bet..get ALL of the facts as opposed to relying upon the opinion of another that may or may not be an informed opinion...don't assume such...and weigh the pros and cons.....and decide accordingly. Whatever one decides, rest assured when it comes time to sell, chances are fairly good that any work performed without permits will be found (by perhaps the buyer, or the realtor, or the home inspector, or the appraiser, or the insurer, or the attorney) and if so, the piper must be terms of cost...for tearouts, for fines...and even possible back taxes. Forewarned is forearmed.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 11:16AM
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I have watched this thread with great interest because I am about to do a kitchen renovation and have been struggling with getting the permits or not.
This past weekend I went to a home improvment show and our local government had a booth with information on permitting and when they are needed. When I got done with my conversation with the people at the booth I knew that I was not going to pull permits because I have been violating this ordanince for years. I found that permits are needed to change a light switch, change a light fixture, to replace a hand rail and all other work over $5,000 in retail value (meaning that my time is calculated at union wages with benefits and contractor mark-up-between $100 and $140 per hour).
The ordanince excludes all of the renovation except moving two electrical plugs. The permitting office through interpretations set the $5,000 limit and added the light fixture, switch replacement, hand rails etc. The permitting office has taken every ordanince exclusion and rendered it useless through interpretations. This office is making sure that their staff is never reduced and their jobs are secure.
I will have the electrical work done by a licensed contractor befor any other work is started and if they want to inspect it that is ok. But I will be darned if I am going to pull permits for activities that the ordanince specifically excludes and some bureaucrat put in to protect their job.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 8:32AM
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"chances are fairly good that any work performed without permits will be found (by perhaps the buyer, or the realtor, or the home inspector, or the appraiser, or the insurer, or the attorney) and if so, the piper must be terms of cost...for tearouts, for fines...and even possible back taxes. Forewarned is forearmed. "

I totally disagree with these statements. If you do the work TO CODE then the work without a permit will NOT be found.

I advocate doing the work to building code as much as possible, but not pulling a permit.

Tell me again why I should pull a permit when my house was built 1 year ago (with all permits) and I have DOZENS of major code violations that were passed by the city who was probably paid off by my builder? No way in hell. Screw them and no way I'm going to have them increase my taxes on top of it all.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 10:22AM
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Additionally, I've bought and sold 5 houses in my lifetime. The inspector comes through and may find some code violations, but there is NOTHING that says the seller has to bring those code violations up to par in order to sell it. That is up to the seller and buyer to negoiate.

In all 5 homes, the only thing I've had to do was replace some regular outlets with GFI (which didn't used to be code years ago).

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 10:31AM
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The non-inspected, non-permitted work done in my basement far exceeds the inspected, permitted work done in the rest of the house. I've come across several "code" violations that the inspecter failed to notice during his few brief trips to the job site. Remember, code has nothing to do with quality, but everything to do with just getting by.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 8:21PM
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"Our town just recently passed an ordinance, requiring all sellers to obtain a "Construction Records Clearance" in order for the title to change hands. The only way to get one? The code official pays a visit; any improvements not on file will be noted...and one must then apply for the permits and finals..or else, no sale. I don't know if they will require tear out...that remains to be seen...and if so, will probably be on a case by case basis."

If a seller is denied a sale owing to a denial of a "Clearance" then the town is going to be potentially liable for a ton of lawsuits.......

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 2:09PM
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chester grant
How can the town be liable if one was denied a sale because one broke the law? Did I misunderstand what you wrote?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 12:36PM
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I'd love to see how accurate the towns records are about the state of your home. They might be able to spot a new garage or an addition, but do you think they'd keep accurate enough records to spot a kitchen remodel?

Plus, I don't live in an incorporated area. Is the county (big county) I live in going to track this? I doubt it. Most jurisdictions don't have the manpower to get the inspectors to your home in a timely manner. Now they're going to maintain detailed records and do detailed inspections. Good luck to them.

Frankly, the idea that the local government would try to keep such detailed records about me gives me the creeps. I can't think of too many things that would reduce home values more than an invasive local government.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 12:37PM
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What happens if I've had work done on my home without getting the appropriate permits -- ie, kitchen remodel without moving any plumbing/electric and basement remodel -- but I decide I want to get permits for any future renovations. Am I at risk when the inspector comes through and spots a new kitchen?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 1:58PM
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Makes sense to have a permit in certain situations rather risking legal troubles in long run. However I hope no one would think of forcing anyone to pull a permit just to hang up a picture, change door knobs, paint kitchen cabinets, hang a blind, install chair rails, and other triva work. Jeez, a governing body out of control. Oh yes, it is already anyway.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 10:50PM
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Freedee: "How can the town be liable if one was denied a sale because one broke the law? Did I misunderstand what you wrote?"

No you did not. I said "potentially" as this is a can of worms for a town. There is a very large grey area concerning the interpretation about rules for improvements. For example if improvements are completed over time permits may not be required - if work is done at the same time over a certain dollar amount a permit is needed. So the town is going to block a sale over something like that?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2006 at 9:47AM
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sunrochy, I agree they have gone out of control. I would be interested to see the town try and enforce that law! Did they have pictures of my kitchen, bathroom, or basement when the house was built? How do they know what brand of cabinets I had? or counter top? or faucet? or floor? or light fixture, or bath tub? or sink? What will be the basis of their decision? I can see code violations stopping a sale until they are corrected but not because they think that you did work without a permit. In addition I would argure that this is a taking of property without compensation as the law was not in effect when I made the changes and they can not enforce under the new law and cost me a sale.
As long as the foot print stays the same I would fight them.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2006 at 10:09AM
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Hey just relax, you're going to be fine. All this permit stuff is way overhyped and just gets people all bent out of shape.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2006 at 7:39PM
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"Our town just recently passed an ordinance, requiring all sellers to obtain a "Construction Records Clearance" in order for the title to change hands. The only way to get one? The code official pays a visit; any improvements not on file will be noted...and one must then apply for the permits and finals..or else, no sale. I don't know if they will require tear out...that remains to be seen...and if so, will probably be on a case by case basis."

chester_grant: "If a seller is denied a sale owing to a denial of a "Clearance" then the town is going to be potentially liable for a ton of lawsuits......."

Maybe. However, all ordinances are first reviewed by the townships attorney, so I would imagine that they must have some reason for thinking that this one will not be a problem.After all, the seller can obtain clearance by obtaining the permits and finals...and I'm not seeing it being an easy deal for the seller to sue the town when he/she was the one who knowingly violated the law in the first place. Granted one can sue for anything, but the cost and aggravation involved in trying to prove that one should not have to abide by the law seems to be hardly cost effective, to say the least.

That said, in NJ, there is also something called the Private Well Testing Act...essentially, title can't change hands unless the well is tested and the position of the well is established by GPS. This must be done by a licensed lab. It's also pretty pricey I the hundreds. However, remediation is not required; the only requirement is that the test be performed..and the results provided to the buyer and to NJDEP. sale. This has been in effect for almost two years lawsuits yet as far as I've heard.

And..similar legislation has been introduced for septic systems.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2006 at 11:49AM
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Would you need a permit for a masonry chimney being put on three years after the house was built?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 9:14AM
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cheerful1, call the local permit office and ask. i bet you do.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 11:11AM
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When you call the permit office, be sure to note the date and time of the call, who answers (probably a secretary), who they pass you to for answer (here it was the head of the permits/code enforcement section at the time). We started renovating our house and did this, and followed the instruction given at that time, which was a homeowner doing this work themselves needed no permit. Six months later, the guy that told us that had retired and an inspector showed up wanting to know why we didn't have a permit and getting really ugly. Because we had details of our call written down (I'm sure they knew good and well this was the interpretation of the law the old guy used which was to replace a bathroom with a bathroom, bedroom with bedroom, no permit needed, despite we were completely rewiring and replumbing house), we were able to just go pull permit for what wasn't completed at that time and move forward. Probably the strangest thing about it was they never made us go back and have the new gas line we had officially inspected. We did, however show the inspector where we'd written down the readings from the pressure test, so maybe they just decided not to waste the effort?

The end of the tale is that, because every single thing they checked out (and they did the first inspecting very very closely) was perfectly up to code, and we are careful to do everything exactly as the inspector "suggests", even if it sounds like the dumbest way in the world to do it, now when they inspect, it's just a "hi, how's it going, oh I see, k, here is your green tag, bye!" We joke we are waiting for the inspector to do our inspections as a drive by.

I will say I used to be against requiring homeowners to get permits, but after seeing some of the really strange things some people do because they don't know what they are doing and decide just to guess, maybe it's not such a bad plan. I would definately want a contractor to be permitted. We've found the permit officer has your back if the job is being done sub-standard, and they don't mind at all being the bad guy.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 2:07PM
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We are remodeling a kitchen. I insisted we get permits, even though the contractor pooh-poohed them. The kitchen remodel began in January and according to my contract, should have ended in March. Now, It's October and it's not done. I went ahead and called in the inspectors. My local inspectors and a separate electrical inspector. My kitchen failed. We are going to have to proceed to small claims court and are collecting estimates for costs to correct the various violations and safety problems this contractor caused. I live in a small town and the local inspectors have been great. They have come to my house and looked things over closely. They have made helpful suggestions. Maybe things are different in a big town or city. Also, because of the permits and the failed inspections, the contractor can lose his license to do business in my town for at least 2 years if he fails to fix things to code. My situation is I don't want the guy in my house anymore, he and all his workers are incompetent (obviously!). Yes, I diligently checked them out. They advertise heavily, have a very large and beautiful show room, and give the impression of being a fairly stable and reputable business. If I had not had the inspections, I would not have known I was putting my family in danger with faulty wiring or that our plumbing was not done to code. These permits force the burden of either fixing stuff or paying me so I can get stuff fixed, onto the contractor. I personally feel I'd have no leverage with them if the local authorities were not so involved.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 3:24AM
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To permit or not to permit.
I work for a company that does residental home repair. If the owner wants to work in one large city on Lake Erie ( no names here) we just won't do the job.
All the inspectors want is - a pay off. And thats for doing good work.. They make up things .. they say/or think may be wrong.. then say, well you know, with the price of gas now, if you just give me $50 I'll ok this and I won't have to make a trip back. ( keep in mind to OK is for an invented " defect" ) There is nothing wrong with the job.

Most of the other citys in the area are ok.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 2:53PM
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the very first major project we undertook in our 1894 house was gutting the dining room and laundry rooms, new plumbling and electrical. i was doing all the work ourselves. the 2nd day of work, we were shut down for not having a permit. luckily we hadnt really done anything so nothing had to be torn out, but has we been further, it would have been devistating.

in our locality, a permit is required anytime there is electrical, plumbing, windows or any type of structral change.

ive never heard of the rules about if you change 1 thing at a time you dont need a permit, but if you do all at once you do... but here if we do ANY of the things i listed above, you need a permit. our code officer in this town of 2,000 doesnt have much to do all day, so he pretty much drives around looking for people doing work withough a permit.

but the bottom line should be that if a permit is required, one should be gotten. takes a long time? that should be factored into a job BEFORE it even starts! ive never had a problem with the ajh here or anywhere else i have lived. i dont give them a reason to complain!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 8:56AM
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I am a Realtor, and my husband and I remodeled a home with a contractor without permits. We had a sale fall through because of it. Now I'm looking at getting after the fact permits. I'm a little scared because of what they might make us tear down. We also finished the walk-out basement with lower ceilings. The ceilings are not quite 7 feet high, and there are two bedrooms, bathroom, utility room, hall and family room. It's an old house, and people were living in the basement before we bought it. What are the chances of getting a variance for the ceiling height? Has anyone gotten after the fact permits? Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 8:48PM
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After the fact permits have to meet all building codes. There is no such thing as a building code variance for work done in violation of the building code but it may not be a violation. You should hire someone who understands the code like an architect.

What most homeowners fail to realize (until they get into trouble) is that it is their responsibility to the city for meeting the building code and to file for the general construction permit. Yes, an owner usually assigns that task to a contractor and the contractor must sign the permit and sub contractors apply for their own permits but no one other than the property owner can be held responsible to the city. Get a permit and fire anyone who suggests working without one.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 9:05PM
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I would personally avoid permits at all costs. Where I live, I have extreme high taxes. All this permit stuff is just a sham to get more tax revenue and permit fees to fuel big government in my town. The permit process has allowed a source of income and wasteful spending and the permit office to expand. The 2 times I got permits, the inspector came and did not look at anything and just approved it by giving me a sticker to put on the electrical panel. How is this protecting my house from burning down? And have done a lot of research, you will find like zero history of claims not being paid for work done by homeowners without permits. Just do the work correctly, the risk is low. And my town even had a grace period last year, where everyone who did "illegal" work without permits could apply without penalty for permits after the work was done, no questions asked. Yes, and how does this protect your house? Again, they wanted MONEY and a larger TAX BASE.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 9:50PM
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It is not the inspector's job to assure the owner that the work is correct, to code and safe, that's the owner's responsibility. Time for a reality check.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 5:47PM
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Not sure how it wouldn't be the inspector's job to ensure those things but as for the permit, my town made a car dealer take down a wall because they had not gotten a permit to put it up, they had extended their building.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 8:36AM
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A city is in no way responsible for the work done by a property owner on their own property. Granting permits to build, reviewing the work, and issuing occupancy permits does not change this basic fact of law. A building inspector merely determines whether or not he/she thinks the work meets the building and zoning codes but that does not relieve the owner of responsibility to comply with all state and local laws.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 4:27PM
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A city building official does not "ensure" that construction work complies with the building code; he/she is only required by law to make a reasonable effort to determine if the property owner and his contractors are meeting their responsibility to comply with the building code.

The situation is not unlike state troupers on a highway: they don't catch all violations but they effectively encourage compliance by their presence.

It is human nature to want to shift responsibility onto others but it often comes back to bite you hard in sensitive places.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 8:56AM
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Pete p ny brings up a good point. I've seen inspectors pull up to a site and never get out of their vehicle for a sign off. The g.c walked over, handed him the card, signed off and both went on about their business. The bottomline , however, is that if you want to break the law, dont permit. If you dont like the system, voice an opinion to your areas powers to be.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 10:27AM
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How the city runs its building department should have no effect on how you build your home. If you do a good job why would you care if the inspector got out of his car? Of course the fee is a tax, some towns have an additional 2% new construction tax. Get over it.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 10:03AM
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Last time i checked, even the best builders are human and an on site inspection is an extra set of eyes. Most builders rely on subs who can make mistakes as well. Simply by passing a physical inspection based on the builders reputation is wrong imo because, again, they aren't god, they are human. I always welcome inspectors on my projects and insist on getting down to business despite the facts that i rarely have callbacks. I appreciate the extra ste of eyes. In our county where we are building, the inspectors are known to be very thorough where here in the county where we currently live, they generally just take a glimpse depending on the inspection. I appreciate an inspector who does their "JOB" in detail.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 10:16AM
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You are correct, m.a. in stating that it is the responsibility other than the inspector before the inspections to make sure everything is copastetic,safe, meeting code, etc. I simply appreciate an inspector doing the job they are paid to do w/o favoritism, which is rampant out here in some areas.

Concerning taxes, fees, they are generally miniscule and the dinero generally goes for the good of the jurisdiction which is a benefit in the long run, so i have no problems with it.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 10:58AM
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I was hired to perform a facility review of a new assisted living housing complex as part of the due diligence for potential investors. On one of my many site visits the city building inspector was making his final inspection. The atrium did not have the code required smoke exhaust system and the sprinkler heads around the floor opening were too far apart. I included these code violations in my report. The building inspector issued a certificate of occupancy the next day.

I reviewed the condition of a house I had designed and found deficiencies including a disappearing structural post that was supposed to be unbroken to the wall below (see photos), two fireplaces had brick in contact with wood framing, and a wood bearing wall had been substituted for two steel posts in the basement contrary to the stamped structural drawings. The city building inspector had signed off on the work the day before.

It would not be bragging to say that I am good at finding construction errors. When I look at construction work I am not distracted by the means and methods of construction or the personalities involved; I see in my mind the building as originally designed and just keep looking until I see something that doesn't seem to fit. After 40 years of designing buildings it's easy, not that I don't miss things.

It is always good to have an extra set of eyes on a job but it would be foolish to think a building inspector is obligated or is even likely to catch serious problems in the work no matter how much he tries since your building is just one of many he must review. That task is the responsibility of the owner who assigns it by contract to the contractor who, unfortunately, has a clear conflict of interest because correcting mistakes costs him money.

You would think all owners would seek some more reliable project delivery method with quality control & assurance sufficient to properly protect their investment but few of them do.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 7:41AM
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I really think it depends where you live.

Here, if you don't get a permit these days, you could end up having a big problem when you go to sell. Or if your neighbour is a busy-body and complains to the City.
I found the whole permit process a PITA and costly and I wouldn't have done it if I had the choice.
But here in my city, I had to do it.

-First Timer

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 7:27PM
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If for no other reason, getting a permit is wise because a contractor could lose his license if caught. I don't understand why this question would arise for licensed contractors. Is saving the owner the permit fee worth losing your livelihood?

If a contractor offered to work without a permit I would assume his license had been revoked or he couldn't get insurance. I wouldn't waste my time talking to him about it.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 10:14PM
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I apologize for clogging things up here, but I wanted to say thanks to mightyanvil, finally got your point, its my investment, my responsibilty, thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 9:07AM
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Happy to help.

Poor understanding of the roles of the participants in a construction project is the most common problem I see in home building and it usually costs the owners in the end and they don't seem to realize it.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 6:05PM
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You know, it amazes me that people will put their lives in danger to save a few minutes of time. I wouldn't knowingly live in a house that did not have someone in the know overseeing the job. The Inspector is YOUR FRIEND...NOT YOUR ENEMY. People that have something to hide, LOVE to work in the 'dark'. Shine all of the light on those types of shysters. And I say shysters, because I've gone to battle with a few in court.

Don't gamble with your money, time, or lives of your loved ones.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 1:54AM
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"It is not the inspector's job to assure the owner that the work is correct, to code and safe, that's the owner's responsibility. Time for a reality check. "

It may be the owners responsibility, but to say that its NOT the inspectors job is total bs. That is what they are paid for. They are paid to look for sub par work. they are paid to find things that need to be corrected.

I have NEVER done unpermitted work and have no regrets. Our code officer is also the tax assessor, and has been in my house a dozen times in the last 3 years. Amount my taxes have gone up? almost nothing. 3 years ago, we were valued at $39,900. A new bathroom, 2 new decks, entire rewire and 5 of 7 of the rooms gutted and remodeled.

New value? $46,000.

Appraisal value 3 years ago? $9,500.

Now? $69,000.

When we sell, not only will we have a fat wallet but also won't have someone backing out of a sale pt of concern the work wasn't done right.

Like someone said sarly in this thread, it comes down to what is right and wrong. So you disagree with the practices. Take that up with your state legislator. It is the LAW to get a permit for work that requires it. If you don't agree with the speed limit do you break it? If you don't think your car should have a yearly inspection, do you ignore it? If your doctor says you need a certain medication, do you not take it? Doctors are just as corrupt as the politicians...

But they are still there for a reason.

Corruption is all around us.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 11:16AM
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You are one of the ones I was talking about who can't understand the roles of participants on a project or perhaps don't want to.

The inspector's job is to assure the city, not the owner, that the work is correct. The inspector has no responsibility of any kind to the owner; he works for the city.

And I don't appreciate your language.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 7:37PM
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Maybe you misunderstood... I did NOT say that it was the inspectors job to assure the HOME OWNER, but it is still his job to assure it is DONE RIGHT. No doubt about that.

As long as my municipality requires a permit, I will be getting one... and NEVER having to pay a fine or have my job shut down.

And language???? I didn't use ANY inappropriate language.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 11:11AM
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Both are good points as it is the responsibility for the contractor/homeowner to make sure things are cool before scheduling an inspection, but it is the responsibility of the inspector to point out any corrections or anything that might have been missed. A good inspector will offer avenues, or ways of doing things that the contractor/homeowner might not have seen and on the other side of the coin, a contractor/homeowner might perform a task exceeding codes that is generally the minimums that the inspector is looking for. A good inspector would appreciate that. Just as a good builder treats a project as more than just their job, so does a good inspector. On permitted projects, it's nice to have that inspection. On non permitted projects if im in unfamiliar territory, i always seek advice from someone w/ experience in that area.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 11:35AM
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I said "It is not the inspector's job to assure the owner that the work is correct..."

You said, "to say that its NOT the inspectors job is total bs"

Then you said, "I did NOT say that it was the inspectors job to assure the HOME OWNER"

You should pay attention to what you are saying.

Please clarify what you mean by "bs" if it was not intended to be rude and offensive.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 12:36PM
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Okay, my bad... I didn't intend to say "to assure the homeowner". What I meant was that it is the inspectors job to make sure it is done right...

And I am sorry if the term BS is offensive.

"to say that is NOT the inspectors job is total baloney sandwiches!!"

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 1:30PM
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"it is the inspectors job to make sure it is done right"

You are intentionally confusing the roles of the participants on a project.

It is the CONTRACTOR's job "to make sure it is done right" as agreed to in the owner-contractor contract.

The building inspector is not privy to the owner-contractor contract and has no obligation to the owner or the contractor, so his job description at city hall is irrelevant to the project. He might inspect the work carefully or he might not. He might know a lot about construction and the code or he might not. It shouldn't matter to the owner or the contractor.

The bottom line is that no one should ever rely on a building inspector to provide quality control or quality assurance for a project, there's just too much at stake to be that foolish. It is best to pretend the inspector doesn't exist.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 7:54PM
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Okay, I can agree with that, but again the bottom line is if a permit is required, then get one. There is no legit excuse not to (and being bothered with hassles of getting one is DEFINATLY not an excuse).

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 6:54AM
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Has anyone always gotten the necessary city permits but upon selling the property something didn't pass inspection?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 5:40PM
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There would be no reason I am aware of for a property to be inspected by a municipal building department at the time of sale although smoke detectors are often required to be inspected by the local fire department.

Private home inspectors cannot require permits but if the buyer goes to the building department and finds that permits were not gotten, the buyer can demand that this be corrected. It's pretty unusual for homes and more common for commercial properties, but I have been asked to draw a structure that had been added to a home so that a permit could be gotten at the time of sale but that request came from the seller's lawyer in order to avoid giving a potential buyer a leverage point for getting out of a contract or negotiating the price downward.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 7:45PM
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I read almost all the comments in here and while everyone is talking about "to permit or not to permit", I want to share my story here. Because, it is way too complicated just to answer where my standing is regarding "permit or not to permit". Some of you may look at his subject once you read my story. So, here it goes:
We live an old home in IL and wanting to upgrade it for a long time but couldnt afford it. Finally, the kids are moving out and we got enough equity and the bank gave us for a much lower rate interest. We couldnt be happier and excited about this remodeling opportunity that we have. So, we shopped for ideas by engaging contractors to give us estimates. We hired a reputable architect and got our blueprint done. We had several bids on the project. We even divided our remodeling projects into smaller projects and got various bids. They all looked at the entire project and provided their bids. Some are over our budget and naturally we didnt go with the bids. But, this one contractor (Id refer him as "Contractor from HELL" from here on out) gave a bid for the various projects, which caught my attention. I did not agree on the kitchen project bid but I liked the two small bathroom bids he gave us because, they were within our affordable budget. On top of it, he talked to us into no need to get permit for the work he is doing for the same reasons many of you have said here (the inspectors are a big pain in the butt.the work will not be completed in a desired time..etc). He also went and told us how hell make sure that he will not attract any on going traffic about the construction..hed bring his truck and haul away all the construction debris and so forth. It sounded reasonable and so we agreed and signed the contract with him. We agreed to pay through his installment conditions. Accordingly, we had "allowance" in the materials that we want in the bathrooms (tiles, vanity, mirror, shower fixtures, towel rack etc). I bought all those according to our likeness and willing to subtract from his allowance during the final installment payment. So far, so we thought. What we didnt know was his dissatisfaction of not able to get the bigger job (the kitchen project). We signed up with another contractor for the kitchen job since the pricing was right within our budget.

The contractor from HELL gave us two weeks to finish his work, which he put it in writing in his contract when we signed up with him. Accordingly, the start date is Nov 3rd and the completion date is Nov 17 is when he is supposed to finish. So, we planned to bring the other contractor to do the kitchen after Nov 17th. And so we did. The contractor from HELL didnt like it at all. He obviously didnt finish his job and continue to drag them. We waited two more weeks and the work still was not done. In the mean time, I paid him most of the money (more than the amount of work done) to him. Id say about 50% of the work is done thus far at this point. Then he started to behave differently. I realized that he didnt like the fact that the kitchen project did not go to him and he is envious that the other contractor already started to do my kitchen. He then told me that no other contractors could come into my house while he is working. So, I told my kitchen contractor to stop coming hoping that this guy would finish his work. Two days later, he told me that the allowed time of his contract has passed and although he told me that the kitchen contractor couldnt come, now that the time has past, they can come and continue the work. So, I called my kitchen contractor and asked them to continue the work. So, I thought things are moving along.
Then.the contractor from HELL started to behave differently

Contractor from HELL (the guy who is doing the two shower room remodeling):
Today, he came and started a conversation regarding a work not related to him. He told me that he was told by a different contractor (who is doing my kitchen) that the electrical panel in my house is going to be replaced on Friday (11-28-08) and he was told that there will not be power for 3 or 4 hrs. Then Contractor from HELL started to rumble about the fact that whether or not the electrical work is going to be done according to the code and he needs verification. I am not sure why this is his concern to begin with. This work is NOT allocated to him. Contractor from HELL went on telling me that come Monday everything will be cleared out and asked me to have a good Thanksgiving. He went on saying, "While you are eating your turkey, start thinking about what I said and you'll get it". I am not sure why he said anything like that. It seems like he wanted the job and not liking that the job went to somebody else. My point is that, Contractor from HELL was given the work of remodeling the two shower room ONLY, NOTHING ELSE! He is constantly trying to get involved in other work (by constantly talking about it to me) other than his while he is doing his work. This bothers me very much that Contractor from HELL is not minding his work instead minding other work. He is constantly trying to pull me into a conversation with him about other work and keep trying to avoid him as much as possible. It seems he does not like the fact that other work is given out to others instead of him. It is obvious in his conversation.
He asked me what Christmas gift I have for him. I asked him why he is expecting Christmas gift from me. He said, I should start thinking about Christmas gift for him. So, to make him explain, I asked him whether he is in a nice list or naughty list to get a Christmas gift. Contractor from HELL says, he can be on both.. and also said, it all depends on the gift I have for him whether he is going to be in a nice list or naughty list. He also said, if I dont give him a gift Santa is not going to be happy and he continued to say the "Grintch" will come to my house instead. This bothered me even more and told him that I dont understand this type of conversation where it doesnt make sense. Contractor from HELL said, he is a poet. He said, come Monday (12-01-08) everything would be clear to me.
Now, I am not sure what Contractor from HELL is intend to do on Monday. When he left, Contractor from HELL said, "I'll see on Monday, have a good Thanksgiving ". Then he left. I noticed that he took all his tools and had left. I was suspicious that he is up to something. Just out of curiosity, I went and looked at his work. He only completed 50% of the work. He said hed complete it couple of weeks and did not complete what he wrote in his contract.
I paid him the required installments according to the Contractor from HELL's contract. There is the final payment left. Since I bought most of the material for the work, Contractor from HELL said the final payment is based on the "allowance" he mentioned in his contract, which will be subtracted and then I will pay him what is left.
Any way, I will wait for Monday to see what Contractor from HELL is going to do.

Monday came after Thanksgiving (12-1-2008) and the contractor from HELL didnt show up for work. So I called him and he answered his phone and told me that he is running around and going to be late a bit and for sure going to show up for work. I waited and waited and waited he never showed up. I contacted an attorney and got his advice. Accordingly, the attorney would call the contractor and ask him to fulfill his obligations as per the contract. So the attorney called and got the impression that he is going to come back to work. I even got an email from him telling that hed come back to work the next morning. So I thought.
Next morning, the attorney called me and told me that he had talked to the contractor and he was not happy to get a call from the attorney..but was going to come to work. So, I waited. The kitchen contractors were already showed up and continued their work. Later that morning the contractor from HELL showed up. I thought he came to continue the project. Instead, he barged in and started take pictures. I objected it but it continue to take pictures and walked through the garage and threatened me that he is going to call the police and shut the jobs down. I told him no on can come in here and closed the garage. He said hed see me within one hr. The rest of the workers doing my kitchen saw the whole thing. They told me not to worry.
I waited for an hr nothing happened two hrs passed..nothing happened. My attorney called in the mean time and asked if I was okay. I told him what exactly happened and he said the contractor from HELL already stepped outside the boundaries and he is out of control. I didnt know what to do.
My kitchen contractor, with the intention of wanting to make peace with the contractor from HELL, asked me if he could call him and try to find our what that guy wanted. So he called him. The contractor from HELL told my kitchen contractor that he wanted $2000 more than the contracted amount now (upfront) and hed come and finish the job in 4 days and hed drop everything about telling the inspector and also the police. This is blackmailing meso I refused. When my kitchen contractor told him about my denial to pay him $2000, the contractor from HELL told my kitchen contractor telling him that he took the kitchen contractors contract (my signed copy) from my desk and he knows how much he bid for and so on. I just couldnt believe this that he actually stole something from my desk and now the only copy that I have regarding the kitchen contract is with him. My kitchen contractor asked him how he has the contract and the contractor from HELL told him that he took the contract right out of my desk when I was not there. The very right time my attorney called me to see how I am doingthe timing cannot be perfect. I told him how the contractor from HELL is trying to blackmail me and also committed a crime by stealing something that belongs to me from my desk when I am not there. The attorney asked me to file a complaint against him to the police department. Also told me to wait 48 hrs for him to cool down. I waited and he has not done anything other than writing me an email telling him he will come and complete the work after my kitchen contractors complete their work and gone. Well I simply cannot allow this contractor from HELL ever again into my house, for he committed crime, violated my privacy, tried to blackmail me, and also threatened me. I have several witnesses regarding this matter.
What I am going to do now? I simply not going to contact the contractor from HELL. I simply NOT going to let him make me a hostage in my own house. I am going to finish the work he has not completed by asking others to do it. I know I am losing money. I rather lose money than being crazy to let the contractor from HELL into my house!
This is my story and thank you all for listening.

- jb

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 11:47AM
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Forum courtesy requires that:
1. You don't bring back a long dead old thread unless your comments relate directly to it.
2. You start your own thread instead of hijacking another one.
3. You keep your information concise and to the point so others can get through it.
4. You use the Home Disasters forum if you just want to complain about your bad luck.

If you want my advice, I think you are trying to save a few bucks by acting as your own general contractor and you have no idea how to do that and how to deal with multiple sub-contractors on the same job site.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 12:43PM
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You wrote If a contractor offered to work without a permit I would assume his license had been revoked or he couldn't get insurance. I wouldn't waste my time talking to him about it.>>
What you said interests me.(Iwill keep this very short as you suggested) I hired a contractor. He suggested that he can do work without a permit. I didnt know then how he was planning to cause trouble for me. The work is half done. He has taken pictures of the work. Took all his tools and left before Thanksgiving (which I didnt know why). Sent an annonymous letter to the village with pictures about the work going on without a permit. The village called me and asks me to apply for the permit. I am going to. My question is, whether or not the contractor going to lose his license...based on what you said?

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 7:50AM
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Again, if you have a states contractors licensing board, turn the guy in. You will only need his license number.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 10:12AM
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You can claim that the builder worked willingly and knowingly without a permit but you, as the owner and general contractor, are also responsible for obtaining a permit. You can claim that the builder told you a permit was not necessary and probably get him in trouble, but the fact that he has already contacted officials about it suggests to me that he is not emotionally well and wishes to harm you even if he harms himself. There are no winners in a street brawl.

I suggest that you get free of this matter as quickly as possible. And I suggest you hire a general contractor next time. Your project management skills appear to be poor not that that is unusual for a homeowner.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 10:25AM
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It would probably be best to let this thread die since another one has been started.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 10:59AM
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County inspectors, (gov't employees) do not look at crap when they inspect. They are a joke. They are no different than your home inspectors. County inspectors do what they do because it is easy. Every 9 out of 10 jobs I do go un-inspected. Permit fees are nothing but another form of taxes for local gov'ts. Pulling permits is for the idiot.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 9:39PM
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Agree with Jeff. Nothing but a way to raise your taxes.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 10:45AM
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