Why You Need Building Permits for Your Next Home Improvement Project

Flavia Medrut
6 Min Read

Are you looking at improving your house with simple renovations? Or maybe just trying to raise the value of your home?  Remember that before starting your next home improvement project, you need to get your home improvement permits first.

The process might initially be cumbersome for those of you who hate dealing with paperwork, but it will just cost you extra headaches and money if you don’t do it.

Building codes will vary from city to city. Your local municipality will only issue a building permit when your house complies with all the rules and regulations on these codes. 

Hiring a contractor for your project will save you a lot of trouble since they will be the ones to “pull” all of the paperwork before they start working on your house. They are also responsible for complying with the necessary building codes. 

If you are not hiring a contractor and are thinking of doing the work yourself, then you will be responsible for everything. You must be aware of the regulations and make sure you have the permit before starting to remodel your home.

Building permits are required for the following reasons:

Unlicensed renovations can make your home unsafe

If your contractor is illegal and does not know about the proper paperwork then it isn’t wise to trust them. Lack of interest regarding that important area can lead to doubt as to whether they even know about current building codes. If they don’t and you still hire them, then you’ll be facing the problem of having an unsafe home.

Future complications regarding paperwork

Should it really not be your fault that the proper permits were not filed, upon discovery of the situation, you have the responsibility to make it right. It may become a fact-finding mission that takes days or even weeks to figure out. 

If you do not have the original copy of the blueprint of your house, you can refer to the city or county for copies. While you are in there, you can also ask for a record of the filed permits regarding the renovations that were made to the original design of your home. 

blueprint approval stamp

No records means that the work done was unpermitted. As the homeowner, you need to resolve this and ensure that all future remodeling will be done completed lawfully. 

Facing problems with insurance policies

Considering remediation will help homeowners when it comes to insurance. Insurance policies may not cover damages that come from work done without a permit.

The process of repairing unpermitted work involves hiring a licensed contractor. He will probably need to remove everything from the previous remodeling and think of solutions that comply with the regulations. All of this will cost you a lot of money that you could have saved if the work had a proper permit in the first place. 

Not having your permits may complicate or cancel the sale of your home

As previously mentioned, insurance policies do not favor unpermitted work. If you are putting your house up on the market for sale, a home inspection will be done.

Homeowners need to show that they own the necessary permits for previous renovations, so that the lending bank will approve the loan. If they find out that remodeling work was done without permits, they will likely not give you the money.

Having to request for retroactive permits

Since building codes vary from city to city you will need to check with yours if they offer retroactive permits. These permits are not easy to come by as a representative of the city will need to inspect the work that was done in the house, and whether it was completed properly. 

magnifying glass blueprint

You may be able to receive one if the work is structurally sound, but the officials might still need a licensed engineer’s written confirmation. However, this is not applicable to every city. 

Shutting down your project before its completion

City building inspectors can just knock on your door and ask for a permit. If you or your contractor are unable to present one, they can “red-tag” your project and shut it down until you obtain the necessary paperwork.

cancelled stamp

Anything built that didn’t comply with the building codes or zoning ordinances can be demolished. You’ll also get a fine that could cost you triple the amount of the original permit fee.

Bottom line

Do not try to skip getting the required paperwork for your next home improvement project. The hassle is worth compared to the headaches and additional fees you’ll get if you’re being discovered.

Save yourself time and money by hiring a serious contractor and live worry-free in your newly remodeled home.

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An avid writer with a knack for lifestyle and home décor, Flavia has been combining her passion for movies and TV with her affinity for welcoming interiors, tackling topics from fictional homes to interior design tips or the psychology behind the way we decorate our homes. With a PhD in Sociology, Flavia has also been inspiring readers as a long-term contributor on Goalcast.com