Are Permits necessary?

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snipped-for-privacy@invalid.com wrote:

Good Grief!
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In our town, that's illegal. In this way, the inspectors are like vampires: they can't cross the threshold without invitation.
Our local inspector, an extremely reasonable man we'll call "Pete," once told me that he views permits as being more for safety reasons than for anything else. According to the letter of the law here, just about anything you do electrically or structurally has to have a permit. According to "Pete" he'd rather I not pull a permit for installing a new outlet (which The Law says I must) because it's not worth a $40 permit for a $5.00 job, but when we upgraded from 60 amp service to 200 amp a permit was ABSOLUTELY necessary. Why?
Because if the house burned down and it was caused by a problem with the new wiring the insurance company would look for a permit and approval first thing!
- Wm
--
William Morris, o.k.a. Solace the Shire Gravemaker, KCRF
o.k.a. Nicholas Thatch, No One In Particular
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Michelle wrote:

The reasons are easy
- It's the law - Insurance - Liability - Possible repercussions if found out later (they can make you take them out) - Lack of input. Yes in many areas the building inspectors try to help you do the job right, by pointing out things you might not be aware of.
How well the system works does depend on the local authorities. Some work well and others not so well.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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Michelle wrote:

Permits, I think, are intended to maintain property up to a standard, and to provide a record of what is built and/or changed. You know what you do to a house, but if you have your drunk brother-in-law rewire it, sell it, and the buyer has no idea they are in danger. Some of the DIYers I know aren't fit to take out my trash - I've seen some really horrid work done. Some people are so clueless they will remove a structural wall or put in substandard wiring, sell a home and leave their unknown mess for someone else. Of course, "little" rules are meant to be broken, and a lot of people think the law is for everone else.
In our town, a homeowner in a single family dwelling can do work that normally requires a license, with the restriction it won't be rented for the next year. Gives the homeowner freedom to do his own work, and be his own victim. :o)
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wrote:

To accurately evaluate the property for tax purposes!
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Not the only reason. My step-father was a contractor in a big city. He did mostly house renovations and kitchens. The permit not only ensured the city got its taxes, the inspector usually would pick up the plain envelop left out for him, just like the cookies and milk for Santa.
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expanding
Nobody else said, so I will- permits may have evolved into a government profit center/tax collection tool, but IIRC, they started out in densely-packed urban areas for a legitimate reason- safety of the community. Chicago fire, SF earthquake, etc, all were much worse because of shoddy construction and no thought to fire resistance. Nobody cared if the idiot in the shack killed himself, but if his shack burning also killed a dozen neighbors and burned down the warehouse down the block, that got to be a problem. From that flowed building codes, and if you have codes, you obviously need a feedback loop to see they are followed. Hence inspections. It was quite common, even until very recent years, for rural areas to be 'no code' areas. Some of the rural shacks I have seen that they are attempting to pass off as houses for sale validates that very well.
Well, that was the theory, anyway. Of course understaffing and/or traditional graft will keep the process from working perfectly, but it is better than 'anything goes'. I grew up in the construction trades, and am pretty well versed in most aspects of it. But I don't know it all. So for the parts I would have to hire out, I don't mind a little QC on the work being done.
aem sends....
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Michelle wrote:

Permits are a real money-maker for some cities. Keeps everybody's taxes down.
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Actually they barely fund the building department. That is why inspectors are spread so thin. Of course the bureaucracy of the building department is a black hole that would suck up any surplus if it did exist. Unfortunately Harry Homeowner has to jump through the same hoops to build a dog house as a developer does to build a condo.
The real answer might be to privatize the whole process of homeowner permitting and inspection. Let the insurance company administer it. They are the ones with skin in the game.
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On 15 Sep 2004 20:27:19 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Greg) wrote:

That depends greatly on the location, as well as the quantitiy of permits issued. In our area for example, about 60% of the properties receive permits in a year, and permit revenue generates significant reserves.

In most areas permit fee income must be spent in the process of managing the permitting and inspection process. Which means a surplus in building department revenues can't be used to buy a new fire truck or hire more trash collectors.

Depends on the jurisdiction, and it's quite doubtful a dog house would require a permit in most areas.

Not really. Nor are they the ones charged with creating and administering the codes. Permitting is an area that really can't be privatized.
Jeff
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It has been in a lot of places. (2 years in Fla) You still must go through zoning but the actual plan review and inspection is privatized. This does require an engineering firm to sign off on code compliance. They also need an OK by the AHJ but in Florida you could sue to show cause why the AHJ didn't go along. For contractors it is cheaper to simply go through the county since the contractors have people to sit around the permit office and they have the economy of scale since they submit mastered plans a dozen or more at a time. A contractor also does not mind "drive by" inspections. They don't have any questions.
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wrote:

Your local government looks in various ways to make a buck? Seriously, without a permit you could be in trouble when you sell the house and it is out of code. Or, there could be safety concerns.
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if you did electrical and there is a fire, you may be out-of-luck. for plumbing, i wouldn't worry. ...thehick
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Phisherman wrote:

Without permits for changes you make to your dwelling, if you sell, the new owners wll not be able to get a CO (certificate of occupancy) until changes that have been made to the dwelling since the last CO are inspected and the proper permits are obtained. This may require that any obstructions to inspection, such as walls, be removed to inspect the changes. Guess who pays for it? Like the motor oil commercial says, "You can pay me now (for the right oil) , or you can pay me later (for a new engine)"
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scribbled this interesting note:

This is purely a matter of location. Perhaps this is the case where you are, but to assume that is the case everywhere is just wrong. I've never had any such situation with any house I've bought, ever, nor have I ever heard of anyone else in Texas having a problem like this.
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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John Willis wrote:

Oh, yeah! I forgot about Texas.
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I've only lived in a few houses in a couple of states. I never needed a new CO, never needed any inspection. It may be in some areas, but I've never encountered it in a used home. In my 59 years in living in private dwellings, I've never had a CO or been asked about one.
I know a CO must be issued on a new house. Ed
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says...

How would anyone know when the changes were made to deny a CO?? I'm not sure where you live, but here in Maryland, if I sell the house, there's no CO requirement. No inspection needed at all, though most buyers get them for peace of mind to know what they are getting into. In the hot sellers' market many homes in fine condition are nonetheless sold "as is" just to simplify things.
Marc
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The type of change that may be discovered during a CO inspection is a major one, like finishing off a basement, or turning attic space into a bedroom. And if they do, then you could be required to tear it out, at least to the point of being able to be inspected. Locally, I know of a guy that got caught after he put in a deck without permits.
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Putting on a deck is different than finishing off the attic. The deck is outside and if a neighbor does not like you, they may turn you in.
IMO, no one has the right to come into your house because they suspect you are making improvements. Perhaps some states have different laws, but I've never heard of a new inspection for a CO when a house is sold. What state or local government requires it?
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