Most homeowners are aware that they need to pull a building permit before starting on a remodeling project. While it may seem like a time-consuming, troublesome process, a building permit is an official form of approval, ensuring your property is in line with local codes and legal to sell.
If you are embarking on a residential remodeling project, you might be wondering whether your project needs permits. That would depend entirely on the local codes in your state and city. But broadly, projects that could have an impact on personal and public safety need permits. The types of construction works you would need to pull building permits include plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and structural.
Experienced general contractors know the types of permits that need to be pulled, given the project at hand. The person that pulls the building permit would be responsible for sticking to the relevant construction codes. If you have any doubts, contact your city’s building department, and they will tell you whether your residential remodel needs one or not. Here is some useful information on what building permits are when you need them and the process involved in pulling them.
What Are Building Permits?
Building permits are an official approval from your local authorities to proceed with your remodeling project. The permit shows that your construction plans are in line with the local building codes. It also indicates that the plans meet minimum construction and safety standards dealing with structural integrity, zoning, land use, zoning, sanitation, electricity, fire resistance, sewage, and water. In short, a permit proves that your construction, addition, extension project is compliant and legal, rendering your property resalable.
When Would You Need A Building Permit?
You would need a general building permit and specific system permits for large-scale projects such as:
Adding or altering a driveway, garage, or any extension to the house.
Major internal work (plumbing, electrical, gas)
Codes can vary significantly between states, cities, and counties. These reflect the regional safety priorities and the specific department’s requirement to generate revenue. Regulations can change from one year to the next. For the actual codes, you would have to refer to local government publications. However, there are some essential distinguishing points between plans that need and don’t need permits. Here are some broad-stroke divides between the two.
Why Is a Building Permit Required? (What would happen if you start your project without it?)
It is illegal to start your project without permits where required. The permitting process ensures your structure/addition/extension/alteration is up to code. If you sidestep the process, you might be left with an out-of-code residential property.
If the city gets to know of this, either through a building inspector of a neighbor that notices the construction and informs them, you might have to pay a hefty fee.
If the un-permitted construction is still in progress, they might shut down the project, hike the permitting fees, or even demand that whatever has been built is torn down. A permit can be expensive, but you’ll save a considerable amount of money in the long term when you stay above board.
What Other Building Permits Could You Need When During A House Remodel?
If your remodel does need a permit, that would be a general building permit. However, depending on the scale and scope, it might also need specific system permits. Concrete permits, plumbing permits, mechanical permits for air conditioning units, and electrical permits are very common.
The other building permits would reflect regional issues and conditions unique to your local areas. For instance, in high fire-risk areas, the codes would be more centered on fire-resistance.
Who Is Responsible For Pulling A Permit For a Residential Remodel?
Your general contractor can guide you through the process or even pull the permits on your behalf. While you might save some money applying for the permit yourself, it’s better to let your contractor handle this aspect for you. They will file the building permit under their company name, making it their responsibility to ensure the construction is up to code.
Regardless of who files the building permit, it’s crucial to know what the requirement is and the application process to follow. This can include getting the site plan approval through initial review, revisions, and corrections, obtaining a permit to start the construction, and scheduling inspections to get final approval for the work post-completion.
About Building Permit Cost
There is a wide variation in the costs- ranging from just a few hundred dollars for basic projects up to thousands for larger, more complex ones. Various factors have a bearing on the cost of your permit, including:
The scale and complexity of your remodeling project
The overall value of the construction you are doing.
Additional permits needed for your project
The time it takes the building inspectors to review your plans, application, and the construction site.
These are just the general guidelines, and building permit fees, much like many other permitting requirements, will vary between municipalities.
What Is The Typical Validity Of A Building Permit?
A building permit is a temporary document, and its validity depends on the jurisdiction. In most cases, the scheduled work needs to begin within six months of receiving the building permit and completed within a year. If you need more time, you have the option to either renew or extend your permit.
Building permit approvals can take between two weeks up to a few months, depending on whether your submitted plans need revisions. Since there are many technicalities involved in the process, its best to get your general contractor to pull the permits for you.