It may seem as if a home remodeling project is too insignificant an endeavor to warrant permits, particularly if you are doing the work yourself, but the risks involved in skipping permitting are high.

Permits Protect You

In many ways, remodeling permits actually protect you, the homeowner. By requiring your local building official to inspect the final work, permits guarantee a contractor does not get by with shoddy work, or that DIY-ers do not overlook crucial aspects of various projects.

Here are a few reasons permits are a good idea:

– Permits are designed to help homeowners avoid building code violations, most of which result in unsafe workmanship.

– Insurance companies require records of permits before paying damages for events such as home fires caused by electrical wiring.

– If you ever decide to put your home on the market and a prospective buyer discovers there has been work done without permits, he or she may opt not to purchase the home. Again, it all boils down to liability and expense if something goes awry with the work in the future.

– If your local municipality discovers you had remodeling work done on your house without a permit, it may assess retroactive home improvement taxes on your property, resulting in a sudden, hefty bill.

Ask Questions

To make sure you are in compliance with local permitting regulations, question your contractor thoroughly. If he says a permit is not needed, contact your local building official and double-check.

A good rule of thumb for whether or not a permit is required is that if the project is purely cosmetic, such as replacing all your bathroom faucets, it may not require a permit. Anything involving electrical work, intricate plumbing work or tearing into the drywall, on the other hand, is likely to require a permit.

Some municipalities require permits for projects that affect trees or utilities as well.

If you are in doubt about whether or not your project requires a permit, always ask your local building official or check your local government website for more information.

Permits can range in cost from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. However, as explained above, the cost of failing to purchase a permit when one is required can run significantly higher than that.

The best way to look at the permitting process is that it is a normal aspect of nearly any remodeling project, and not an extra cost.