Why Do I Need a Building Permit? October 31, 2018
City, county, state, or provincial building permits are mainly about safety. They are about enforcing construction industry standards. Compliance with these standards provides real estate owners and other occupants of the properties with the best chances of minimizing things such as occurrences of fire, structural failures or something that may be as simple as a child getting his head caught between stair rails.
In most jurisdictions building permits are required to be obtained by law. Failure to obtain a permit can result in a fine, ordered removal of whatever was not constructed in accordance with the construction industry standards, and/or rebuilding completed projects in order to comply with the industry standards.
Apart from compliance with the laws, there are plenty of other reasons for following the permit process as well:
- It keeps contractor honest. Sadly, sometimes to beat the price of a competitor, a profit-driven contractor might be tempted to cut corners. Does each client (small or big) have enough knowledge to know it if contractor did? Most construction work ends up hidden behind walls and under floors. A building permit requires that a contractor use sound and safe methods and materials. Inspections assures that contractor follows the construction industry standards throughout the project completion.
- Do-it-yourself project. No matter how handy property owner is, he/she is not likely to be aware of every small thing about current building practices. The permit issuing authority studying plans for the planned project as part of issuing a permit. If the plan does not follow the code, the inspector will ask to revise it prior to approval. However, if permit application was never initiated, a completed project may not follow the building industry standards and the end product may be dangerous or unsound.
- It keeps insurance valid. Building done without a permit can mean that insurance company may not honour the policy. A fire resulting from work without a permit could leave the owner holding the bag. If someone falls off a deck that was built without a permit, the liability insurance may not cover the cost injuries.
- It adds value when selling the property. If work is completed without a permit, the potential buyer will know about it given that the permit process is a matter of public record. In addition, seller may be required to sign a Property Disclosure Statement, which details all problems or defects in the property. Having all the necessary permits makes the sale proceed much smoother.
Even if they understand a building permit's value, often, homeowners and commercial business owners get confused about the type of work for which they need one.
The easiest thing to do is to simply contact the city officials and ask them if permit is required for a given project. It is always a good idea for the property owner to do this him/herself to ensure that contractors are remaining honest.