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Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Posted by ks_toolgirl (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 7, 11 at 2:14

This thing with our kiddie pool had me wondering just how much our local government has altered the official requirements this year. Looking over the online lists of what requires a homeowner to apply for a permit has me very curious...
Who does or doesn't apply (and pay for) permits to alter their home?

Honestly, now... Even if you do, do you ALWAYS? If you replace a sink, or toilet? If you temporarily move toilet, to install flooring, then put it back, do you go to your courthouse, apply for the permit to install plumbing, (or reposition it where it was), & pay them for the priveledge?

Do you keep up with the ever-changing local requirements regarding what needs a permit "this year"?

Geez, reading it - (yes, again.. & yes, it's gotten worse since a couple years ago) has reminded me of the things we've done without them. Before & after we (ok, "He") knew better. I'm a worrier. I worry about consequences with no permit on file for this or that.. He doesn't worry about that part.

Don't misunderstand, DH is highly intelligent & rational. Any home (or other) project he tackles is heavily studied & researched - until he understands every excruciating detail of how & why it works - before he even begins shopping for materials.
So, anyone? Do you, every time you're supposed to?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

I am curious now about my house--were any permits ever done beyond the originals? The kitchen was redone in the 60s or 70s, the bath had carpet added in 1967...some electrical was done before I bought it--visible wires in the basement were changed to romex and a circuit breaker service replaced the old fuses...permits? I wonder.

The garage was supposedly built in 1920, but it says that for every one in the area--so I'm thinking it was built when the house was in '08. The original wiring has the rotary switches...but is now hooked up to modern toggles.

Personally, I've not done anything major enough to require a permit--but the garage needs serious work, and I didn't get a permit last time the roof was repaired on it--or when the house had a new roof put on in about '92.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Colombusguy, I not only "hear you", but I'm guilty of the ultimate hypocrisy - I don't think the PO's applied for permits before flopping our house over to us... Yet we're guilty of doing work without them. The difference, to me, is that I know hubby is responsible & educates himself first, & I know they weren't! Does make you wonder... & I'd hate for the next family to live here to wonder, also. They won't know us (him), so...
Have you read the local gov info, recently, regarding what requires an application (& check for $) for altering your home? It's vague, here, & changed a lot in a year! "Replacing a lavatory sink? Apply for a building permit, $25 please, we'll schedule an inspection at our convenience, next!"
I told DH, I do need a new toaster. Tempted to buy one, take the unopened box down to courthouse, plop it on someones desk & say I need a permit for my new appliance, & could they let me know when to expect someone to be at my house to inspect the installation, while I plug it in?
Don't get me wrong - I understand why it's important, to a degree. Safety, security, confidence that everything has been done right & your family is safe. Everything done here, since we bought her, will stand up to inspection & pass code requirements - although we may have to watch as dismantling of work is done so things can be seen, that's understandable.
Other "consequences", I'm not sure about. I've read about some bad ones.
Then, I worry. Again! :-)


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

You don't need a permit to replace a toilet or any other fixture. Homeowners are allowed to repair or replace in kind. You do need a permit to make alterations to the underlying system. eg moving the drain pipe or supply line even 1 inch.

Personally, if I know the job is going to involve those kind of things, I get a permit. We're adding a bathroom, and obviously need electrical and plumbing permits. We gutted the kitchen, so that obviously needs permits.

However, while opening up walls, I've found things that needed to be fixed that I should have gotten a permit for. e.g. While replacing lovely paneling with drywall, I found buried junction boxes. I didn't stop and get a permit. I just ran a new, continuous wire.

As a practical matter, anything that would alter any of the official tax descriptions could be a potential deal breaker when you go to sell. e.g. added a bathroom, deck, finished basement. It's well worth a $75 permit to keep that from happening - especially if you are already doing the work up to code.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

We have applied for permits EVERY SINGLE TIME we've done a project....3 in 3 years. While at city hall, I've also researched if permits were pulled for prior owner projects on our house and about 50% of the time they weren't.

We have spent alot of money fixing the stupid a$$ things the non-permitted previous homeowners did. And the worst of the previous homeowners owns a lumberyard and is in the trades. And researched it all, and thought he was doing it right.....yada yada yada.

Permits are meant to provide for your safety. If you don't think you are worth it, then go ahead and fly under the radar. As billl said, at the time of sale, you ARE responsible for being able to show that projects were permitted, which also means that you passed inspections.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

"Permits are meant to provide for your safety. "

Permits are mostly designed to increase the assessment of the house.

The inspection process is usually pretty lame, and will only catch major problems (and sometimes not even those).

The inspector is not going to check every electrical connection, every pipe joint, or check the grade and installation of every joist and stud.

They walk in, make a few spot checks, then sign off.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

I need to clarify a bit, here... I seem to have given a few wrong impressions, lol.

I didn't mean to imply that I don't believe in applying for building permits, in general. If I gave the impression that I don't respect the laws, or recognize the reasons for them - safety being the highest on the list, then I didn't articulate myself very well.

I certainly did NOT intend to imply that we "blow-off" the permit process. We have gotten permits, & will continue to do so.

Yes, there have been times when we didn't, as I admitted before. For different reasons, each time. Those are the ones I worry about - not because they compromised safety, but simply because not following the rules makes me uncomfortable.

The topic had been on my mind, & just wondered about other opinions & experiences. Ironically, of the people I know in the area that have done work to their houses, we are the only ones to get permits at all. I asked a neighbor if they had any trouble getting permits - added a porch, covered no less. I got a blank stare followed by an eyeroll. I had just asked the most ridiculous question this person had ever heard.

Lol - I did wonder if I'd get "slammed" for being honest... But I posted it anyway, so I suppose I had it coming. :-)


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

We did not get a permit when we renovated the basement or either of the bathrooms, but we are getting a permit for the new porch because it will be on the outside of the house. I agree with brickeyee that permits are usually a waste.

Our house is old and small. Well built, but "too small" for today's tastes. Houses like ours are valued for the land, not the house. New buyers tear them down and build McMansions. So we are not worried about affecting resale value. Whatever we do to the house with or without a permit isn't going to affect the price of the land. (Lucky for us.)


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Some places have required permits for ANY change.

I have worked in locations that would not allow any light fixture to be changed, and switch or receptacle.
Even replacement with identical parts technically required a permit.

For plumbing the ONLY allowed thing was replacement of faucet washers.
NOTHING else.

They require a permit for a roof replacement, but do NOT actually inspect at any point (at least ore than driving by to determine the work is completed before the permit requires renewal).

Guess how many folks not in business pulled permits.

It is generally NOT a safety issue.
They do not check carefully enough to determine safety (as a PE who is allowed to 'self inspect' and then certify commercial projects I check a LOT better than any AHJ I have ever seen.

It is a revenue source.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

There are two types of inspectors in my part of the world--standards inspectors and zoning inspectors. (And sometimes they intertwine.)

I'm all for standards inspectors.

In fact, when I build new, I make a point of telling the inspector I appreciate him/her coming and to take a close look at everything. This especially applies to electrical inspections, where standards are constantly changing. On my last project, the inspection ended in the electrician being fined $750 (after one ignored warning). Sure beats a possible fire in a wall!

Zoning inspections--"Is that an illegal in-law apartment I spy???" are another matter.

And, of course, having lived in the Rotten Apple and remembering my father having to budget for "gratuities" to inspectors on commercial projects, I can understand the reluctance of some here to pull permits.

Here is a link that might be useful: Home Inspection Horrors


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Where I live, you DO "need" a permit to change a faucet or light fixture (or remove most tree species). And I do not.

I DO get permits for things that are more significant, even if the contractor feels it is optional (he also doesn't get hired, actually).

If I hire someone, I want a permit. I know when *I* do something right and I know when I'm skating but at least I do know I'm doing it safely.

It also impacts resale when there are big jobs done without permits. I probably paid around $150-200k below what I would have if the place I just bought had gotten permits for big things (kitchen remodel with walls removed, extra room tacked onto the back, etc.). (I confess, at this point I would have preferred they'd hired a designer than gotten permits....)


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

The people before us did a ton of renovations and didn't get permits. Of course they weren't done 100 percent properly, but good enough so that we don't generally have problems.

The bad side to that is we lost out on city of Cleveland tax abatement. No permit, no go.

Now, since there were so many improvements, and they never got permits, we pay much less in taxes then we should. I kinda don't want to mess with a good thing so we probably wouldn't get permits for most things we did on our own...professionals working on our house is another story.

In any event, hardly anyone notices here in the city...there are mroe important things going on than "illegal" decks being built.

Many of the inspectors have to concentrate on vacant houses and other buildings related to their renovation.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Then there are times when a building permit would have been a good idea...

Here is a link that might be useful: we don't need no stink'n thru-bolts


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

We have a house built in 1780 that we bought last year. We hired a certified and licensed electrician to start re-wiring it. He got a permit and had his work inspected by the town code enforcement officer who approved it all. After only working for a short while we ended our relationship with that electrician. Now comes the next certified and licensed electrician who is horrified at what the previous guy did and couldn't believe the town had approved his work. He ripped it all out. He worked on our house for 3 months and when he had the inspector come back he read him the riot act about how could he have approved the previous work, etc. The code enforcement officer has a sign on his desk that says "electrical work is not a hobby, hire a licensed electrician". Funny how the inspectors are incompetent. Permit fees in this town are obviously just a money maker. Good thing we finally found a great electrician!


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

"Then there are times when a building permit would have been a good idea..."

The inspector is NOT there to be your quality control, and has no obligation if they miss something.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

I only said a permit would have been a good idea not that it would have prevented the tradegy. Why do you consistently twist what others say on this forum?


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

"Why do you consistently twist what others say on this forum?"

Why do you post inanities then?


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Brickeyee: "Permits are mostly designed to increase the assessment of the house."

The members here allow you to make inane comments on a regular basis so why can't you let them participate here in peace?

You have become the forum bully making mean and disrespectful comments about the comments of others.

It is time the members called you out for it.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Or the two of you can simply ignore each other.

There comes a time ,when, after dealing with the structured ineptitudes of municipalities, frustration comes too the fore.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

It's sad to see two old cynical bitter contractors complaining about the incompetence of building officials as if dealing with such issues and frustrations was not simply a part of the construction process and therefore part of their professional responsibility to an owner. And, of course, it should be obvious that such issues have nothing to do with the decision to apply for a building permit.

The most influential person in the evolution of the modern American design and construction process was Walter Gropius of The Architects Collaborative. He often said that it was necessary to master the restrictions and limitations of materials, systems and building codes in order to be free of them.

The essential element of his approach was that he did not resent or begrudge the limitations placed on his work by others - he welcomed it as part of the process. He also believed that every person involved in the design and construction process was a member of a collaboration.

I have always tried to follow Grope's advice and have always included building officials in the collaboration. Perhaps for that reason I have never had a problem with a building official and have often found them to be helpful in arriving at a reasonable solution to a difficult design problem.

Because both of you seem to have the same self-indulgent, defeatist, me-against-the-world attitude, I will refer to you as the curmudgeons and refrain from commenting in threads where you have already commented. If someone wants my advice they can, if they choose, start a new thread and hope I arrive before the curmudgeons do.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

"It's sad to see two old cynical bitter contractors complaining about the incompetence of building officials as if dealing with such issues and frustrations was not simply a part of the construction process and therefore part of their professional responsibility to an owner."

So we should all sit back and just take it?

I live in a jurisdiction that demands permits for roof removal and replacement, but does not inspect the work.

What purpose are they requiring permit for and charging money?

Every little city and county in Virginia used to play with the codes as they wished.
A Statewide Uniform Code was finally pushed through the legislature to remove the local variation.
It took significant pressure to achieve this.

Maybe you think we should have done nothing?

I am far from cynical, but expect the AHJ do know the code and their job.
PE inspection is sometimes and option on larger jobs, but not very cost effective on smaller jobs.

The AHJ is not your QA department.
Raising the issue of permits preventing any type of failure is at best wishful thinking.

If you want to simply be a good little sheep and comply with the orders you can go right ahead.

Some of us are willing to (occasionally) take on the AHJ when they start running amuck, as opposed to just sit back and take it.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

In the final analysis, on any of my projects, I determine what constitutes code and contract compliance and usually I am required to sign an Affidavit of Compliance at the end of the project so the local inspectors are usually more concerned with mechanical and electrical issues and I appreciate their help for that work when there is not a design consultant to inspect it.

I don't consider inspection violations or "contrary" interpretations to be problems, just something else to deal with in order to get the project done. Rather than making me bitter, time has made me less emotionally sensitive to building issues.

I admit that when the codes change I get a bit annoyed if the number of books and amendments increase as well as their cost which has been the case with the recent transition from the state-wide BOCA code originally adopted here in '74 to the similar 2009 ICC codes. I just want to know what the rules are without buying a bookshelf of poorly coordinated and seemingly contradictory information but I'm not going to wring my hands or whine about it. Who would care?

So, I agree that the issues of quality control and building official inspections are not necessarily related but that should never be a reason to avoid inspections or permits. You have confused the two issues perhaps because of your obvious resentment at being told what to do. I am told what to do by building codes and owners everyday but I feel no resentment because I am committed to dealing with the things that can be controlled and am content to let the curmudgeons of the world deal with the stuff that can't be controlled. I wish them luck and hope they will let me be.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

So Gropius would approve of the city ordering the removal of a kiddies' rubber pool? Or needing a permit for it? Right...it's the same old thing with government--a little is a good idea, so a lot more is even better! Let's see if you agree when they tell you what to wear in sunbathing!


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Are you serious? A rubber pool? Sunbathing? As far as I know Gropius was never asked to be involved in the design of anything like that.

He couldn't have founded a world-class architectural firm and become a professor at a major architecture school if those were the kinds of things that got under his skin and that was essentially the point of my earlier comments.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Interesting.
You know nothing about me, yet you have "elected" to enjoin me with another,:((It's sad to see two old cynical bitter contractors complaining about the incompetence of building officials as if dealing with such issues and frustrations was not simply a part of the construction process and therefore part of their professional responsibility to an owner.)), as a group, a group who's participation you wish members of the forum to voice their exception with.

You are aware that there are forum monitors and a procedure for initiating an investigation.

Then giving you the benefit of the doubt (you might be a closet forum monitor), could you be so kind as to articulate what constructive feedback you've received from this post;
((The members here allow you to make inane comments on a regular basis so why can't you let them participate here in peace?

You have become the forum bully making mean and disrespectful comments about the comments of others.

It is time the members called you out for it.))

((And, of course, it should be obvious that such issues have nothing to do with the decision to apply for a building permit.))

However, fully informing the homeowner, in this case, is also part of that "professional responsibility".

The following, for example, is factually incorrect.

((In the final analysis, on any of my projects, I determine what constitutes code and contract compliance))

Unless of course you believe and have some nefarious certification that you are above it all.

((and usually I am required to sign an Affidavit of Compliance at the end of the project))

Really!

And the document, process and procedures you are certifying you have complied with were authored by whom, and subsequently verified by whom?


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

When a licensed design professional provides the drawings for a project in my state he/she is required to inspect the project during construction and at completion and sign a notarized affadivit certifying compliance with the permit drawings and the applicable building codes.

The local building inspector is responsible for reviewing the drawings and verifying that the design professional's registration is valid.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Ren, look at the original post...ks had to remove a kiddie pool or else get a permit for it.

Yes, Gropius is responsible for the school which now has people living in impersonal boxes and thinking that is taste. Personally, I wouldn't live in a modern house if you paid me--Gropius, Wright and that crowd should have been drummed out of the architecture business. Give me Barber any day.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Renovator8

Interesting parsed phraseology;"When a licensed design professional".

States and Municipalities across the country, at the insistence of the architectural lobby, have and enforce certain requirements for permitting a variety of projects.
Architectural responsibility is predominantly required for commercial projects, however, when a residential customer and/or their selected contractor employs an architect to prepare the a set of permit-able drawing for their project, unless the architect permits the project, he has no responsibility for compliance of any kind.

Another interesting concept is that whenever I've been involved with an architectural drawings, they not only included architectural, but structural, electrical, plumbing and mechanical, as well as engineering, including the specification for each.

You see, they were either A or B general as well as PE or Civil.

So, reading back thru some of your post, you mite indulge in a reality cheque.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

columbusguy1

I don't think the OP meant the pool permit to be anything other than an extreme example of permitting requirements. A pool permit would be required by a local ordinance like a dog license and would not warrant a serious discussion.

It's unfair to lump Gropius with Wright. They have little in common either as designers or as people. Gropius' great contribution to architecture was not so much an issue of style but of design method. At his firm, The Architect's Collaborative, he and 7 younger partners, established a collaborative method that was highly successful and immensely influential in his profession.

"This philosophy reflected Gropius' central preoccupation with the social responsibilities of architecture. The idea of "collaboration", which was the basis of TAC, was carried out in that an entire group of architects [would] have their input on a project, rather than putting an emphasis on individualism. There would be a "partner-in-charge", who would meet with clients and have the final decision of what goes into the design. Originally, each of the eight partners would hold weekly meetings on a Thursday to discuss their projects and be open to design input and ideas."

By comparison, Wright would design his projects with little input from anyone, even engineers, which led to some pretty foolish deficiencies in his buildings.

There are many architects named Barber so I can't be sure who you mean.

snoonyb

Permitting procedures vary quite a bit from state to state. I was commenting on my situation and experience just as others have commented on theirs. If an architect or engineer's stamp appears on a drawing in my state he/she must visit the site at regular intervals, perform a final inspection and sign an affidavit of compliance. On a single family house, if there are no design professionals involved, none of that is required. However, it is difficult to design a modern house without the need for an engineer's stamp which would trigger the requirement. This requirement is due to the state legislature's decision to have a formal certification of compliance for any building where a licensed professional is involved and the only person who can do that is the licensed design professional.

It is strange that some people, rather than being interested in different methods and approaches, resent the fact that some aspect of their work is done differently in another part of the country.

If there is an "architectural lobby" I've never heard about it. If it exists, it is doing a poor job of influencing state legislators since there is little in common between the laws of the 50 states. The lobby that has the most influence over building codes is clearly the NAHB.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

George F. Barber, late Victorian architect. :)


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

snoonyb has obviously never worked on any very large projects that required a lot of engineering, or in a jurisdiction that allows inspection and certification by licensed folks.

You really think the AHJ can actually check engineering calculations?

Many are NOT PEs.
They are hired and sent to training classes on inspection, with refresher courses when codes are updated.

I have met any number of them over the years that did not now how to read portions of engineering drawings (some structural) and therefore could not even verify the job was completed to plan.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

columbusguy1
You might like Turn-of-the-Century Houses, Cottages and Villas: Floor Plans and Line Illustrations for 118 Homes from Shoppell's Catalogs

Here is a link that might be useful: Shoppell's Houses


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

It is my understanding that you only need permits for structural things (safety issue there) and changes which will increase the value of the house by X amount. (Unsure of the amount.) As such, OBVIOUSLY we have not gotten permits to paint, to add post caps and stain to the deck and porches, to do minor electrical work (changing locations of outlets and light fixtures - my husband has a degree in mechanical engineering and a lot of experience in that sort of thing), minor drywall repair, and the like.

I don't expect we'll get a permit for planned minor cosmetic changes to the bathrooms, like tile on the floor in place of vinyl, and beadboard wainscoting. I have wondered about the need for a permit for putting in hardwood floors, though. We plan to do that one room at a time, to keep down up-front costs. So, with each individual project, we would not be dramatically increasing the value of the house, but in the end, we would be.

This question has actually been looming large in my mind because of a house which is for sale in my town right now. The owners are asking for over twice the recent assessed value. I couldn't imagine why until I saw the pictures - clearly they have done a lot of interior renovations. If you don't get permits, the town is unaware of the changes, and your assessment doesn't go up. This is a big issue where I live in New Hampshire, because property taxes are so high. The taxes would jump from about $6,500 a year to $13,000 per year if the house were assessed at close to the asking price. It seems unethical to keep projects which would dramatically increase the value of the house private by not getting permits.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

The state building code where I live requires a building permit for any work that is regulated by the code with the following exceptions:

1. One-story detached accessory buildings used as tool or storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet (12 m2).

2. Fences six feet (1829 mm) in height or less.

3. Retaining walls that, in the opinion of the building official, are not a threat to the public safety, health or welfare and which retain less than four feet (1220 mm) of unbalanced fill.

4. Ordinary repairs as defined in Secton 52.00: Repairs, ordinary shall not include the cutting away of any wall, partition or portion thereof, the removal or cutting of any structural beam, column or other load-bearing support, or
the removal or change of any required means of egress, or rearrangement of parts of a structure affecting the egress requirements; nor shall ordinary repairs include addition to, alteration of, replacement or relocation of any standpipe, water supply, mechanical system, fire protection system, energy conservation system or other work affecting public health or general safety.

5. Greenhouses: A building permit or notice to the building official is not required for the construction of greenhouses covered exclusively with plastic film (in accordance with St. 1983, c. 671. This exemption does not apply if the greenhouse is to be used for large assemblies of people or uses other than normally expected for this purpose).

6. Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, countertops and similar finish work.

7. Swings and other playground equipment accessory to a one- or two-family dwelling.

8. Window awnings nine square feet (0.8361 m2) or less in area supported by an exterior wall.

It is best to read the administrative section of the code before making assumptions about what work requires a permit. Alternatively, you could ask the local building official.

Generally you can get away with not getting permits until your neighbor gets jealous, a workman gets angry, or a prospective buyer discovers there are no permits on file at the building department.


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also

I believe New Hampshire has adopted the 2009 IRC which says:

R105.1 Required. Any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by this code, or to cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit.

R105.2 Work exempt from permit. Permits shall not be required for the following. Exemption from permit requirements of this code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of this code or any other laws or ordinances of this jurisdiction.

Building:

1. One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet (18.58 m2).

2. Fences not over 6 feet (1829 mm) high.

3. Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet (1219 mm) in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge.

4. Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 927 L) and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1.

5. Sidewalks and driveways.

6. Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.

7. Prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep.

8. Swings and other playground equipment.

9. Window awnings supported by an exterior wall which do not project more than 54 inches (1372 mm) from the exterior wall and do not require additional support.

10. Decks not exceeding 200 square feet (18.58 m2) in area, that are not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above grade at any point, are not attached to a dwelling and do not serve the exit door required by Section R311.4.

Electrical:

1. Listed cord-and-plug connected temporary decorative lighting.

2. Reinstallation of attachment plug receptacles but not the outlets therefor.

3. Replacement of branch circuit overcurrent devices of the required capacity in the same location.

4. Electrical wiring, devices, appliances, apparatus or equipment operating at less than 25 volts and not capable of supplying more than 50 watts of energy.

5. Minor repair work, including the replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles.

Gas:

1. Portable heating, cooking or clothes drying appliances.

2. Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe.

3. Portable-fuel-cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.

Mechanical:

1. Portable heating appliances.

2. Portable ventilation appliances.

3. Portable cooling units.

4. Steam, hot- or chilled-water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by this code.

5. Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe.

6. Portable evaporative coolers.

7. Self-contained refrigeration systems containing 10 pounds (4.54 kg) or less of refrigerant or that are actuated by motors of 1 horsepower (746 W) or less.

8. Portable-fuel-cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.

The stopping of leaks in drains, water, soil, waste or vent pipe; provided, however, that if any concealed trap, drainpipe, water, soil, waste or vent pipe becomes defective and it becomes necessary to remove and replace the same with new material, such work shall be considered as new work and a permit shall be obtained and inspection made as provided in this code.

------

The link below is to a website that explains the requirements in the 2003 IRC which is still a commonly used building code throughout the US and what can go wrong when you don't get a permit.

Here is a link that might be useful: 2003 IRC permit requirements


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Thanks, that is very informative for me! Live free or die! I checked our town site (wasn't sure if policies were based on municipality) but could find nothing other than a "Building Permit Simplified Form," with no information on what is exempt from permits or what requires permits. It seems to me that checking with a local official when wanting to do something minor could just be asking for trouble (requirement of permit.)

This is then kind of an irrelevant question, but in a state with somewhat lax permit requirements, how do they determine accurate property assessments? What is on file at our town office is what was true when the house was built - carpet and vinyl flooring, etc.. Reassessments are made periodically, but they do not look inside homes to make that determination. If someone has done extensive finish work which increases the value but which does not require a permit, that would not be known to the town. I mean, let's say I put hardwood throughout, new kitchen cabinetry, swap out all my cheap doors for nicer doors, add crown moulding... basically swap out the cheap builder grade finishes for high end stuff. That might not increase the value as much as an addition would, but overall, the house should be worth more and I should be paying more in taxes (NOT that I want that to happen but ethically I should probably be paying more... well, "ethics" depends on one's views of property taxes, and if one wants to get into it, property taxes are a wealth tax on wealth one usually doesn't have, since most new houses are largely owned by the bank.)

Sorry to hijack this thread....


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

brickeyee;

You also know little or nothing about me.

But this;"snoonyb has obviously never worked on any very large projects that required a lot of engineering, or in a jurisdiction that allows inspection and certification by licensed folks." from someone who is confused by friable.

I don't usually beat my own drum, so let me take this opportunity to enlighten you;
$5,000,000,000 2.5yr remodel of two floors of Raytheon headquarters in Elsegundo.
$495,000 47 seat Ron Howard screening room in the Howard Zemekis Bldg. at USC.
I was the working superintendent.

The civil that I worked for was responsible for providing building, housing inspectors for 11 cities as well as being the consulting eng. for those cities.
There are seven consulting eng. in his offices with individual specialties.

In general, with some variations, here on the truly left coast, plans are submitted at the time of the permit being requested. When there is eng. included in that submittal, because of the cost of liability insurance, they are farmed out to a consulting eng.
In residential addition, with or without eng, an inspector is assigned and when the permit is finaled, no additional certification is required.
In new construction the Arch. and the builder, when the permit is finaled, apply for the certificate of occupancy.
The same is pretty much true for commercial.

Larger municipalities will have their own eng. staff.
The head of the building dept. is not usually just an administrator but possesses a variety of ICBO certifications. Your run of the mill inspectors are urged to attend LA TRADE and TECH. and obtain their own ICBO cert., their continued employment as well as advancement depends upon it. Most attain combination inspector status.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

"It seems to me that checking with a local official when wanting to do something minor could just be asking for trouble (requirement of permit.) "

Generally, you can just call up and ask basic questions. I'm sure there are some exceptions, but I've never heard of any department demanding to know your name and address before they offered guidance.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

$5 trillion must be a record for a corporate office remodel. That's a hundred times anything I have designed or managed. High Five!

In Massachusetts no one has the legal capacity to provide formal opinions about regulated architectural and structural matters unless they are licensed to practice those professions so building officials must request formal certification in order to issue a C of O with the exception of 1 & 2 family dwellings that do not exceed the prescriptive requirements of the residential building code.

But in Maine the legislature passed a law a few years ago specifically allowing the owners, builders, and local municipal inspectors of single family houses to design the structure even when it was not prescribed by the residential code. It is now unwise to stamp any drawing for a single family house since anyone can get a local inspector's approval to change the design without my approval.

When I call the building department in this state they don't care who I am but they almost always ask for the address of the project and it's difficult to pretend there isn't one. It's not a demand; they just take a very professional approach and want to look it up on their computer since answering general or hypothetical questions can lead to unfortunate misunderstandings. Getting the right answer is so important to me that I usually go to the counter to ask questions. You can't get someones undivided attention by phone.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

lizzie_nh

Property taxes are determined using many different methods.

Some jurisdictions use the market value of the house on the first of each year. Theoretically that number would go up and down with the market. This is possible with computer databases for property sales. Other jurisdictions have a formula that considers the number of habitable rooms, building area, lot area, number of bathrooms, etc. This information might be updated every 5 years or so.

The purpose of these different systems is not to tax the the value of every single element of the property but to provide a completely arbitrary way of apportioning the total tax revenue desired between all of the properties in the community. And the system cannot be so complicated that the community could not afford the cost to implement it especially in these difficult times.

Whatever system is used in your community I doubt the assessor would be interested in new floor finishes nor would a building permit be likely to be required (unless you replaced the sub-floor or floor joists). After all, no one really knows what the value of the old flooring was so how could the new value be assessed? I also doubt new finishes would substantially change the resale price of your house. Flooring should only affect the price of house if it had to be replaced before someone could move in. Don't confuse what might help make the sale and what might increase the offering price. Don't ever drive by to see your old house; the new flooring might be sticking out of a dumpster. I discovered that a new bathroom I had just installed in order to raise the sale price was ripped out a week after the closing.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Renovator8;

Whoops, 3 too many zero's.
I was in a billion dollar discussion in another forum.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

You wrote 5 billion. A trillion has 12 zeros. Raytheon? Sounds like a reasonable figure to me.

Prior to the mid eighties I designed hundreds of homes and additions that were built with no building permits as they weren't required on single family homes in many areas.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Thanks Renovator8, good points. And I think you're right about it helping to make the sale (perhaps making a buyer more interested to see it and then more motivated to offer near the asking price (in my case, when compared to wall-to-wall carpeting)) versus increasing the "value" substantially. I guess although I have been wondering about a building permit for flooring, I was speaking more generally about people making rather major but still "cosmetic" changes. I know they're still unlikely to get close to a 100% ROI but overall it could rather substantially change the value of a house, and "comps" in the neighborhood would no longer be comps. But I guess it's not an exact science.

Despite being on the old house forum (I was researching something and found it, lived in an old house growing up, live in a region of old houses, and love them) I actually live in new construction. I know! My husband bought it before I knew him. I'm trying to make it look old. Sigh. So my context is taking a plain spec house (albeit in a traditional style) with all builder-grade finishes, and making changes. If I were to swap out every builder-grade finish - hollow-core doors, narrower-than-desirable trim, no crown moulding, cheap door knobs, cheap kitchen and bathroom cabinets, laminate counters, vinyl flooring and wall-to-wall carpeting, etc., and add built-in bookcases and cupboards (we have dormers and have a lot of dead space) would that not increase the value above similar houses down the road? (I don't mean flashy luxury finishes which would be out of keeping with the neighborhood.)

Despite planning to do all this for our own comfort (not resale), I wouldn't say I have a vested interest one way or the other, but I'm just curious. Or if you're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, would the increase just be a drop in the bucket anyway?


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

"Despite planning to do all this for our own comfort (not resale), I wouldn't say I have a vested interest one way or the other, but I'm just curious. Or if you're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, would the increase just be a drop in the bucket anyway? "

It really depends on the area and price point. Generally though, yes, it will be a drop in the bucket unless it is something major like a kitchen or bathroom remodel. There is no ROI for putting in nicer doorknobs. Also, even major remodels drop their value very quickly. A "new" kitchen is worth something. A 5-year-old kitchen - not necessarily. The things that add value in the long run are those that increase functionality - eg more space, another bathroom etc.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

I won't belabor this point much longer, but where is the line between making something more desirable so that it is more likely to purchased at an original asking price, and increasing "value" in a house? I'm curious about that. How does psychology play into it? If I see two similar houses side by side, same amount of land, one is nicely landscaped with mature plantings, one is either very amateurishly landscaped or not landscaped at all, one has hideous shiny brass door knobs and one has nice reproduction porcelain knobs, one has orangey oak builder-grade cabinets and vinyl flooring, and one has hardwood and tile floors, and more attractive cabinets, assuming that the changes were not extremely taste-specific, I'm going to want the house with the better finishes. If I see a slew of houses with the builder-grade finishes, and only a couple houses with more durable and attractive finishes, I'm going to be less likely to put in a really low offer. The nicer house would probably also show more nicely on the internet, and generate more interest. And usually something that is on the market for a shorter period of time is less likely to have the price reduced.

(We're not selling our house anytime soon, but this issue is timely since the house next door is for sale. The paint inside is bright pink, with a deeper pink on all the trim. The windows have heavy maroon velvet drapery. The photos were taken when beds were unmade, clothes and magazines were strewn on beds, grocery bags and packaging was on the kitchen counters, etc.. Although the paint can be changed, and the house will not transfer from one owner to another with all the junk strewn around, I can't imagine that such things will be as effective in generating interest as a more neutral interior and clean photos. I think it's a psychological thing. That's kind of a different issue than the one I just raised, and here I am getting into something which should be on a real estate forum...)


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

The problem with your logic is that when people go to make an offer on a house, they base it on sales of comparable homes, not just what is on the market. Yes, they may be more likely to make an offer on the house with the nice finishes, but the offer price probably won't increase much. If all the houses in the neighborhood are selling for 200k, nobody is going to offer 225k because of nice landscaping. They are just going to offer 200k still. The poor guy with the bad landscaping is just going to sit there until the "nicer" house sells.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

I think it might depend on the area. I guess when giving my example I am thinking too specifically of where I currently live (though I have lived in very different areas), a rural area without a lot of similar houses. There was a group of spec home built 5-10 years ago, each with large lots (5-10 acres or so) but otherwise, you've got an old farmhouse here, a split level there, a mobile home there, a grand old mansion there. These will all go for different prices. There aren't a lot of real "comps" other than the group of houses which were all built with essentially the same floor plan and exterior. Let's say everyone with the "same" house puts it on the market for $200,000. Some sit on the market and they have to keep lowering the price until it sells for $175,000 6 months later. Does that really mean that everyone will offer $175,000 and no one will be able to sell their house for closer to $200,000? If you have a more desirable house than the person down the road, won't you have a bit more bargaining power? It seems like commonsense.

Maybe I am just thinking of what would happen in a better market when there might be more than one offer on a house and a buyer might really want one specific house more than the others and want to make sure they get it. (Or maybe I am watching too much HGTV. :-))


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

"Does that really mean that everyone will offer $175,000 and no one will be able to sell their house for closer to $200,000?"

In this market, not only does it mean they will get offers at $175k, but also that the bank is going to appraise it at $175k no matter what offer they get. Unless you have a buyer bringing a lot of money to the table, that appraisal will sink the deal. That might well change by the time you go to sell your home, but I don't think we are likely to return to the time where banks are willing to finance a price inflated by a bidding war.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

There might have been a time when what you paid to improve the finishes in your house in a very desirable location and generous lending market raised the value of the house by a quarter to a half of what you spent but that time is long gone. I wouldn't expect no gain in value, no permit required and no increase in your taxes. I find it difficult to understand why you would think otherwise. Of course, you might still get half of what you paid for a bedroom or a bathroom addition, a permit would be required, and your taxes would probably go up but not necessarily right away nor would the assessment be likely have much to do with the actual amount spent. None of these things are linked in the ways you seem to suggest.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

First of all, remember I do not have a vested interest in this topic - I am not looking to sell any time soon. I don't have my hopes tied up in this. But, looking at real estate message boards, I have to say that the idea that a more attractively-finished house would sell for a bit more than an unattractive and cheaply-finished house is just commonsense, and borne out by the experience of the people I see posting. Just because the average sale price in an area is X doesn't mean that every house will be appraised at X. From what I can tell from the experience of other people, even home staging can bring in much better offers. And, I'm seeing people in my area put their houses on the market - some are selling quickly at or near asking price. Others are languishing on the market for 6 months, a year, or more, with the price dropped every several months. Why would appearance and desirability of a house have nothing to do with what price it would fetch?


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and...

(I'm not talking about a specific ROI for each and every change, but in general... why wouldn't a move-in ready house with attractive and widely-appealing finishes not sell for a bit more than a unattractive house with cheap finishes which a potential buyer would feel they'd need to pay to change themselves later on? This issue has nothing to do with permits but rather the issue of the difference between increased value and increased desirability to buyer.)


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

I no longer have any idea what the point of this discussion is. Good luck with whatever you are trying to figure out.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Ok... I want to start by saying that I intended to direct this question to homeowners, regarding individual projects on their Old Houses - it turned into something else altogether.
I'm a little trouble-maker, am I not? Yikes!

I haven't even had time to read all of these comments, & have to step away again for a few. However...

Renovator8? You were mistaken about my (as the OP) intent. I HAVE licensed pets. 2 cats & 1 dog. I have drawn-up a LOT of site plans, as well as site surveys, topographic surveys, etc. Never, however, for something like this: (sorry, all, only pic I have of my 11 year old standing in pool... Disregard the "pool noodle" & odd use of said noodle. In his defense, he was trying to find a way to FLOAT, in water that didn't reach his knees!!). But it does look funny - that's why I snapped the pic in the first place, lol..
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

That "Swimming pool", requires the same process here as a sunroom addition (without electricity, granted), a deck, or a privacy fence!!! All of which are permanent, oh - except the little pool that no grown-up can use.

For the record, all of the rules were followed - both from common sense & because we knew the regulations from a much larger pool we had several years ago, (when reg's were listed but NO permit required for anything as dinky & ridiculous as this!), "X distance from any structure", "X distance from any power lines", appropriate fence & gates, etc. This wasn't a safety issue, it was a "You didn't ask first, & jump through our hoops" issue. We were in compliance, as far as safety went. We just didn't pay for permission, & all else!
While my experience, & DH's also, make things like the site plan easy (& fun, for me), DH isn't willing to pay more for a "building permit" than we paid for the little pool in the first place.

Just don't compare that to getting a dog license, I guess I'm saying. Compare it to building a deck. It's THAT much of a PITA.

Sorry to rant & rave. Up to 106 again, today. Little pool would be nice for boys. (Bigger pool would be nicer for Mom!").


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

If you read the posts you will find that someone introduced another subject while you were away.

Your original post only mentioned "This thing with our kiddie pool". If you were required to obtain a building permit for the pool it would have been helpful to know that. Unfortunately, vague rants tend to start endless arguments here at the GardenWeb since everyone has a bone to pick about something. The discussion spiraled into tax assessments.

So, if you are saying that the building code requires you to apply for a building permit for a kiddie pool, that is an odd use of a code intended to regulate building structures. I don't know of a national building code that would consider this a permanent structure and the NH state building code (2009 IRC if I'm not mistaken), specifically exempts "prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches [deep]". (see list quoted earlier) That is why I assumed the permit was required by a local ordinance rather than the state building code. I'm still suspicious that it is required by a different law.

You compared the pool permit to one for a deck. The NH state code would not require a permit for "Decks not exceeding 200 square feet in area, that are not more than 30 inches above grade at any point, are not attached to a dwelling and do not serve the exit door required by Section R311.4" However, a local town might delete that exemption and/or have it's own deck ordinance.

So, have there been some amendments to the state building code. Have you seen them? If your municipality uses a different code have you seen that?

What would you say the "Construction Type" was on the permit? Filling the application out would be awkward unless there was a section for temporary structures, etc.

I got caught by a local ordinance in Hollis, NH that placed a limit on the ridge height of a house because of the tallest ladder the fire department owned. At a hearing the fire chief admitted he would never put a ladder up to the peak of a gable and the board agreed that the limit should apply to the highest window. Unfortunately, a lot of local ordinances are not well written.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

I finally realized that it was a thread hijacker who was from New Hampshire so I don't know what the building code is where ks toolgirl lives but perhaps she's from Kansas. I also now realize she did not come here for answers but to rant.

Ranting is considered Off-Topic at the GardenWeb and there is a special "Conversations" section for it accessible from the top of the thread list on the Building A House forum.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

I finally realized that it was a thread hijacker who was from New Hampshire so I don't know what the building code is where ks toolgirl lives but perhaps she's from Kansas. I also now realize she did not come here for answers but to rant.

Ranting is considered Off-Topic at the GardenWeb and there is a special "Conversations" section for it accessible from the top of the thread list on the Building A House forum.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Renovator8, I'm sorry my last post seemed grouchy. Ok, lol, it didn't just "seem" like it - I was hot, tired & grumpy - ya think it showed, just a teeny bit?
I did see where you quoted the reg's that included the pre-fab pool with 24" limit. That's the same thing our city said - is that a federal regulation? The inspector that came (& put the ki-bosh on ours - in a friendly, apologetic manner, I should be fair & point out) gave the impression that it was a local "city" ordinance. Now I'm curious, not that it really matters. Our pool was filled to just about 20" or so, just for safety reasons. (My 4 year-old is tiny for his age, heck - he'd be small for a 3 year-old). Although he was never in it without my supervision, that's as deep as I was comfy with. Mr. Inspector Fella walked all around it, and said "Nope, you're good to go - this doesn't require a permit". Until he read the print on the side that said "Max fill 30 inches". He was surprised & clearly embarrassed to have to make me drain it.
I know I got off-topic, & yep - I did rant a bit. Sorry about that. However, while I did start the topic w/the pool situation, it was literally because it had gotten me thinking about other permit issues, & I really wanted to hear from others if they did things without them, as we have done on occasion.
Oh - here's another one (rant, I guess?) for ya! Anyone else have their town do this? Every 5 years or so, the city hires a firm to fly over town & do aerial photography.. Then city employees pour over every lot, comparing it to the previous aerial map looking for changes. If they see a new deck, for example, they look to see if a permit was obtained. Lol, do the clerks get a temporary job title change to "Code Compliance Officer"? :-) My Dad built a deck attached to his house years ago, didn't even think about getting a permit. It was in backyard, with a privacy fence - I don't know if he was being stubborn (he certainly had it in him, lol) or just didn't know he needed a permit in the first place. After he passed away, an inspector showed up at Moms front door w/a tape measure & clipboard. She about fainted, when he told her the aerials indicated a deck - but not well enough for dimensions. He needed to get accurate measurements for property assessment records (or something like that). Poor lady thought she was in big trouble, lol, called me at the office all upset. "No, you're not going to jail, mom. But your property taxes are about to go up". And they did. (That wasn't meant to be a rant - more of a funny story/memory lol).
Anyway, sorry if I offended. I didn't want to! :-)
Btw, you think I live in Kansas? What? Next you'll be thinking I'm a girl.. Then you'll think I have some tools... I don't know where people come up with things, I swear. ;-)


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

Oops, I forgot to say...

I'm over the pool thing. It's too hot to stay mad, at-or-about anything. I'm looking at the bright sides. I don't have to sit on the deck in 105 degree temp to watch them constantly in it. I don't have to drag the cover on-off-on-off. I don't have to scoop leaves & bugs out of it.
Wow.. Not only am I not angry, I'm starting to be thankful! :-D
(I only mentioned it in my last post to try to answer questions, & tell renovator8 "You were right").

In my initial question, I actually had interior work in mind, & some concerns about a few things - which I didn't end up mentioning. (Awkward.. Kind of embarrassing, & I don't want to get yelled at w/full CAPS LOCK on, lol).
Thanks for all the responses!


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

"someone who is confused by friable."

Where did that come from???

The EPA definition of friable is capable of being broken up using your are hands.
Perhaps you know of another definition?

You have note posted residential examples.

"I was the working superintendent.

The civil that I worked for was responsible for providing building, housing inspectors for 11 cities as well as being the consulting eng. for those cities. "

All in the people's republic of MA it sounds like.

Every little town is its own little fiefdom.
Providing inspectors is NOT the same as self inspection by a licensed PE.
this is not as risky as it looks since a PE is responsible for almost forever for anything they stamp off on and approve.

Only the largest cities usually have any PEs in their building departments (let alone real structural engineers).

They simply cannot afford to hire and keep those kind of folks.


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RE: Building permits.. Do/don't you? Every time?

ks_toolgirl,
You don't need to apologize for ranting - it's what happens when you mix old houses, stupid gov't regs, frustration, & high heat. We've all been there so don't hesitate to let it out.

It's safe to say that most of us pulled at least 1 permit when we were young & naive - after that, not so many.


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