Are Permits necessary?

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OK, I know they are legally necessary, but why? What is the benefit of obtaining a permit when I renovate the interior of my home? We're expanding a bathroom.
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expanding
Primarily insurance. Let's say you install wiring in the house, and it is not up to code, and there is no permit to show it was done properly. Then your house burns down and the fire is traced to that wiring. You'll be hard pressed to get an insurance company to pay for the damages. Another potential pit fall is selling the home. It's possible the lack of a permit could hold up the sale.
I know where you are coming from. I was contemplating not getting permits for my pool install. Seeing some mistakes that were made, and then were caught by the inspectors, gives me a sweet peace of mind. Get the permits, it's worth it.
BV.
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Not to mention safety, liability, etc. What if your kid's friend is electrocuted in your home during a slumber party because you didn't use a GFCI outlet as required, or it was wired improperly? Or your basement is flooded because of incorrect plumbing from the bathroom above?
Bathrooms and kitchens are the places you definitely want to go *strictly* by the book, and fulfill all the local code requirements. For instance, did you know that a ceiling light fixture over a shower area typically must be enclosed (no bulb exposed).
How much is a good night's sleep worth to you?
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But you can follow the codes and not get a permit. Or you can get a permit and have shoddy work because the inspector never came around.
You can tell all the stories you want, but not have the same impact as my personal experience. In my last house, I remodeled the kitchen, installed 100A service (there was electrical inspection of the panel by the electric company), replaced some of the plumbing, installed fences, replaced windows, made holes in the wall for airconditioning, put on a new roof, removed garage and changed it to a basement room, and probably a few things I forgot.
Never had a permit. Never had an inspection. Never had a question from my insurance company. Never had a question when I sold the house. Never had a neighbor squeal as they all did the same things over time.
In my present house I got a permit for a new roof. I paid $25, but never saw an inspector. All I have is a receipt.
For outside work, I'd get the permit just in case a sleazy neighbor rats you out. Inside, none of anyone's business what you do, IMO. Most codes are for legitimate reasons and should be followed for your safety.
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A bunch of questions hidden here:
*1: What is the theoretical purpose of producing a building/electrical code? *2: Why should you follow it? *3: What is the theoretical justification for requiring a building permit? *4: Why should you get one?
Since OP asked: "I know they are legally necessary, but why? What is the benefit of obtaining a permit when I renovate the interior of my home?" I assume that he means either 3 or 4,
The answer to 4 is easy: The local government will be unreasonably punitive if it finds out that you have failed to comply with it's regulations.
The answers to 3 include the desire to compel you to meet code, and the desire to tax you, both FOR the right to make changes to your dwelling, and ON the improvements. Other justifications spring up in multitudes as people try to explain why they're doing something that they never really thought much about.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Depends on where you live. Where I live you can gamble if you want. If you get caught you pay $50 where the permit is $25, i.e., you pay double.
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See, I always thought that there would be a problem with insurance pay-out if there was not a permit taken out, but I called my insurance company and they said that this was not true. The policy would pay out even if the homeowner completed work without permit.
Now.....I don't have that in writing from them either.........
Our code (Ontario, Canada) is restrictive enough that you are supposed to get a permit to change an old fixture or switch for a new one. Now having seen what can happen in DIY installations, I guess I can understand -- but for anyone who knows what they're doing electrically, it seems a bit overboard.
Mr Fixit eh
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Permits is the way your jurisdiction funds it's building department. For that you get an inspection or two. Mainly you get the permit so if one of your neighbors "rats you out" you will be covered. "Insurance" is bullshit. The "inspection" is so minimal that thwere is no aassurance that you actually did the work right. Insurance companied know that. Your rate might change because of specific additions you add (like a pool) but that is really just a call to your agent. If your insurance company is going to screw you, they are going to screw you no matter what. Get a better insurance company. Sometimes the inspector barely even gets out of his car. It is not his fault, they are expected to do between 20 and 40 a day depending on where you live and how much construction is going on there. I always read that you should "ask the inspector". In most places the answer you get is "I am an inspector, not an instructor". Maybe if your wife is wearing "Daisy Dukes" and a wet T shirt she can get a conversation started but usually the inspector is too damned busy to say more than yes or no. I had 5 inspections on my pool, I was there every day, I actually saw the inspector twice. The other times I think he didn't even walk around back.
BTW don't be shocked when you see how much permits cost. A shed permit is $145 in my county and $40 more if you want a light in it. If you are just setting a prebuilt shed it is "only" $100.
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Michelle writes:

While the technical aspects are always cited, the big motivation is protecting the building trades and limiting the housing supply, which puts and entire lucrative industry under the control of local politicians. In many areas the tax revenue is important. Zoning type controls are another factor.
The only reason you have "codes" applied to buildings and not automobiles or food or any number of things, is merely the fact that the buildings are fixed to a location, making them vulnerable to this.
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No codes for automobiles? Try NHTSA Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/FMVSS/ and EPA emissions regs: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/ld-hwy.htm#regs for a start.
Food? Try the FDA (FOOD and Drug Admin) http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/list.html
Electrical appliances and almost every manufactured product? Try UL, ASTM, ANSI, etc.....
Tim Plus a
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Tim writes:

Please. You don't need a building permit or code approval to grow and eat something, or make something that plugs in, or even to build your own vehicle.
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Richard J Kinch wrote:

Yeah, that's the reason nobody ever invented the term "street legal".
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Dan Hartung writes:

Which has nothing to do with permits.
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You won't register that vehicle to run on public roads unless it meet certain codes though. If you have land, you can play all you want.
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Michelle wrote:

Most of the other answers in this thread touch on the truth. You cannot get a permit if the plans are sub par, and many times home made plans must be submitted to an engineer or architect for approval before the permit is issued. So permits will rule out some bad construction.
The city or county bases its property taxes on property valuation and the permit helps to insure that the additional value of your improvements are duly noted.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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I have done a lot of unpermitted improvements to my property, I hope the permit police aren't watching this NG. One thing was certain, the tax assessor found them pretty quick and I did pay my taxes on them. He has better drawings of my house than I do. The last time when I did get a permit I used the tax assessor's drawings for the starting point of my plans and I used his plot plan. The last plans of my house on file are the current configuration I guess that means I am legal now ;-)
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Robert Allison wrote:

And I want to ensure that the improvement is noted because......? so my taxes will go up. Do you suppose that it is really the tax assessor that wants to ensure that the improvements are noted.
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"George E. Cawthon" wrote:

The city/county is the one who wants to make sure that they are aware of improvements. I will leave it up to you as to why they want to know this.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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They just want to be paid for your improvements. It is a tax.
If it was really a service you would be involved with plan review and the inspector would talk to you. In reality, plan review is a joke and the inspector may not even show up. If you do get an inspection, don't expect the guy to be there more than a minute or two. He may have 40 to do that day, spread across a 50 mile wide county.
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On Wed, 15 Sep 2004 03:31:30 GMT, "George E. Cawthon"

When we lived in NJ the code official in the town our town 'surrounded' (like in the hole of a doughnut) spent most of his time hanging out in local hardware, lumber, and DIY business looking for residents buying materials they would probably use to make home improvements - the rest of the time he spent walking through the town "eye balling" homes for any visible signs of improvements. We had friends who moved into a colonial style house with an unfinished attic, but it had dormers in the roof - they put curtains on the windows and a table with a lamp on it in front of each window. Within a week there was a knock on the door and the code official was there asking about their failure to obtain a permit to finish the unfinished attic!
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