“Building Permits are USUALLY a good thing”
However, lately permits are becoming more and more of a cash-grab for government agencies (some are down right ridiculous too).
That said, whether required or not, there are a number of incredibly good reasons why you SHOULD get a permit and/or have an inspection done by a professional when doing any substantial renovations to your home (even a simple bathroom update might require one).
Because homeowners are allowed to do repairs/upgrades themselves doesn’t it’s a good idea to do so. Most don’t have the knowledge, experience or tools for the undertaking in the first place, and then often don’t use the appropriate materials or follow codes (building, fire/safety, etc), let alone get permits to do so.
Regardless of skills etc, in most cities/towns the law require that homeowners get any and all applicable permits BEFORE doing any modifications that affect structure, or utility (you should always check with your local authority for details).
Unfortunately if that’s how you roll, it won’t necessarily only be you who suffers if something goes wrong down the line. Poorly executed projects can cost lives, create health and financial issues, lawsuits, heartbreak, and a myriad of unwanted experiences that nobody should have to deal with – at any time.
Permits are an insurance policy on you and your insurance.
When you apply for a permit, it’s more than just documentation (which by the way, can be VERY useful for future reference), it’s also a way to ensure things are done correctly/safely. It means your insurance claim won’t be denied – in the event you need to make one. Let’s face it, insurance companies will look for ANY reason NOT to cover you (regardless of what your agent said when you signed on the dotted line).
Most permits generally include 2 inspections in the price – a rough inspection and a final inspection. And whether it’s for foundation, framing, electrical, plumbing – whatever, a permit can save your ass.
Having the inspections means that if the work being done (by you or others) isn’t up to snuff (minimum code or fire/safety standards), it will be flagged and require correction before getting a stamp of approval; making it safe for you, your family, your guests or whomever purchases the home after the fact. That in itself should be enough to convince most to go “by the book”, but it’s often not the case.
Inasmuch as your “Friendly Insurance Agent/Broker” says that s/he is doing the best they can to protect and cover you/your family in case of emergency, the shareholders of that company don’t give a rats ass about you, and will do whatever it takes to save their bottom line. Since their bottom line is affected by payouts, you can be damn sure they’ll find any reason/loophole to get out of paying a claim. One of those reasons is fraud – lying to them.
I’ve heard it a thousand times, “I’ll do it myself, and just tell_____ that is was that way when I purchased/moved in…
Almost every piece of construction material manufactured today has various codes marked on them in numerous places. Those codes include information that the product adheres to certain construction/safety standards, and also a Date of Manufacture. The date code shows EXACTLY when a product was manufactured, and even if it’s not visible, a quick look at the material and a few specific measurements will tell a great deal about it’s age.
If your house burns down (while you are living in it or after it selling it) and the cause is found to be faulty wiring (for instance), an immediate investigation is done to find out how old the home is, when the wiring in question was manufactured, and if all applicable permits and inspections were done at the time of installation. If the wiring is newer than the home, an investigation into permits pulled after the fact will be done. If no permit/inspection documentation can be found which correlates to the date of manufacturing on the materials in question, any insurance claim(s) may very well be denied. Not only that, but if the resulting fire led to damage or loss of others’ property, or worse, injury or fatality – criminal charges and lawsuits could possibly ensue.
With or without insurance, you could still be criminally charged and sued if you had anything at all to do with it, and trust me – the insurance companies and applicable authorities will know who was living in the home when the work was done.
So, whether you DIY (Do It Yourself) or have others perform the work, you should ALWAYS ensure that all applicable permits have been pulled and inspections are completed. Be certain to get a LICENSED AUTHORITY to sign-off on the work (putting their stamp of approval on it), taking the responsibility away from you and covering your assets.
Better safe, than sorry.