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When & Why You Need a Building Permit

by Don Vandervort, © HomeTips

For many different types of home repairs and improvements, permits are required. Though simple repairs usually don’t call for permits, additions or major changes—particularly those that involve structural work, electrical, heating, or plumbing—usually demand that you get the appropriate permits from the local building department. If you’re working with a contractor or subcontractor, this professional usually handles the permit process.

If your remodeling project falls within this category and your tradesperson suggests that you don’t need a permit, be wary and check with the building department yourself. In most cases, getting a permit means the work will be inspected by the necessary officials. As a homeowner, this is good for you. Your contractor’s work will be scrutinized by another set of knowledgeable eyes and the results must adhere to building codes, which set minimum safety standards for both materials and construction techniques.

Building codes ensure that your home will be safe for your family and any future families who live there. If work is done without a permit and discovered later, building officials may require that the work be brought up to permit standard—even if it involves dismantling and redoing the work—before they will give it a certificate of occupancy.

For most permits, you must pay fees, typically based on the value of the project, so don’t overestimate the value of the work because it will cost you more in permit fees.

To get free recommendations for top-rated local contractors, call the most reliable and comprehensive referral service, HomeAdvisor, at 866-350-2983 (toll free).

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