Do you ever not bother with permits?

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If you go to sell your home and you need a certificate of occupancy for a finished basement or new room and don't have it, you can lose the deal.

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On Wed, 02 Nov 2005 14:59:36 GMT, "Art"

Some towns near where I live (Gresham, Oregon) require a permit just to change the porch light fixture. I think that is getting ridiculous and potentially leads to petty situations where your nosy neighbors might "turn you in" just for replacing the porch light.
Beachcomber
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clipped

who does the most assinine, incompetent and hideous looking work I've ever seen. His work always requires rework. He put down pavers on concrete walk, used a level to make sure each was level but didn't tamp them so they are all at different heights :o) Uses spray foam to remplace rotted studs in a wood partition :o) He offered to help tile our living room and dining room, which almost sent me to the hospital with palpitations. Even my hubby knew that was a bad idea :o)
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[OP]
I was concerned that the insurance would not pay up if my house burnt down, if I didn't have a permit and documentation at the township. The insurance told me that as long as its done to code and wasn't installed wrong, the all would be ok. I'm putting in a wood burning central heating system and chimney liner.
Dean
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dean wrote:

I'd be less concerned with whether the insurance company would pay and more concerned with whether the house might burn down. If you do stuff correctly, whether it is to code or not, you won't need insurance to fix it. Correctly has nothing to do with code. For a stove installation, the primary concern should be that the closest surfaces don't get hot, not hot enough to burn, just not hot, like no more than hand touch warm. There are a lot of ways to do that and most probably violate code. The second thing you need to do is burn the stove correctly and clean the chimney often.
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Here is an example for you (a little off-topic but related):
I had an early college job (a long time ago) assisting in the installation of business telephone systems. This involved running lots of cable. We had permits to run cable.
We were running cable in a crawlspace above a parking garage that was underneath the business. An inspector came around and looked at our cable and said we needed to run plenum cable since this was also an air space (fair enough). So the job got shut down while a flurry of phone calls were made.
About an hour later (after we heard the property owner called someone in the city inspectors office - perhaps even higher up) the problem went away along with the inspector. Work continued on. Somehow someone changed the classification of that crawlspace so we could continue on.
Now... who was right? Us or the inspector? Or who pays the taxes?
The moral here: Permit or no permit you can still bend the rules if you know the rule makers.

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When a turd hits the fan, the agency will be in denial saying it was not authorized. After Hurricane Andrew hit Dade County, FL it was found that inspectors were on the *take* and some went to prosecution. They bent the rules!
Oren
"My doctor says I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fiber, and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes."
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this interesting note:

We live in North Texas (the DFW area). One of my parent's rent houses had a fire in a corner bedroom (16 year old girl, unsupervised, lighting a candle and then talking on the phone. Match not extinguished and dropped on bed...) Extensive smoke damage and water damage. We did our homework. We talked with Building Inspections. We were told we didn't need any permits. So we gutted the home down to the studs in the walls, did the work to code, and now the interior of that home, which was originally built in the 1950s, is now only a few years old. No permits required, except possibly for the electrical work, but I'm uncertain about that as we hired that job out.
-- John Willis snipped-for-privacy@airmail.net (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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"John Willis" wrote in message

Yes "needing a permit or not" varies in different parts of the country. I think in some remote areas, there is no building inspection whatsoever.
But it is good to still good do things to code if possible. Building codes are based on accidents which have happened in the past, and are designed to protect life and property. And that is *your* life and property they are designed to protect BTW...
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scribbled this interesting note:

Which is why we did exactly that. Rebuild to code. Everything from sealing up the holes in the top and bottom plates where wires and pipes go through, to nail guards, to insulation, to the electrical repairs. All done to code.
-- John Willis snipped-for-privacy@airmail.net (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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I've found many city codes, speaking of electrical here, allow for licensed personel to perform the work without permits if the project is 'small'. Usually a dollar amount. Not suggesting you shouldn't obtain a permit, but I use the local codes in this case as a guildline for what I want to get permited and not.
But officially, I would always contact your local inspectors for their advice, they are there to help you. ;)
hth,
tom @ www.CarFleaMarket.com
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On 11/02/05 04:37 pm The Real Tom tossed the following ingredients into the ever-growing pot of cybersoup:

Our township code says only that a permit is required if the job will cost $200 or more; nothing about needing a licensed person for wiring, plumbing, or anything else. And, yes, I did search the code (on line) for the word "electric." When we had a basement window enlarged to comply with current "egress window" standards, I asked the contractor about a permit, but he said not to bother.
Perce
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On Wed, 02 Nov 2005 17:20:27 -0500, "Percival P. Cassidy"

Well the permit requirements I referred to was a local city, the little bourgh I live in just required all electrical work be performed per the accepted NEC.
As for the window resizing, I don't think my little bourgh would require a permit for that. A little secret I've learned, most permits might be based on some 'safety' issue, but many towns use it as a mean to keep track of improvements and raise individual taxes. Oh my I said it, the secret is out. ;)
Now, anothe thing as a contractor, the permit requirements here have teh contractor tasked with the responsiblity of obtaining the needed permits. So, I'm curious why as a home owner you HAD to ask.
later,
tom
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On 11/03/05 09:22 am The Real Tom tossed the following ingredients into the ever-growing pot of cybersoup:

I didn't know whose responsibility it was to obtain the permit, so I asked the contractor, thinking that perhaps *I* would have to get it and that any permit fee might be in addition to the price I had been quoted for the job.
Perce
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I used to think it was a combination of safety and taxes. Not as much anymore.
Watch "Holmes on Homes" sometime[+].
Permits/inspections are primarily a method by which you the homeowner doesn't get screwed by sloppy/incompetent/unethical contractors.
In most areas, anything more complicated than simple redecorating needs permits (unless there's specific exemptions for it).
If the contractor says "you don't need a permit to add a new room" for example, you'd better trust him a lot, because if he screws up, you're screwed too.
Holmes says "if he says a permit isn't necessary, _run_!".
Holmes periodically has examples where the contractor said "no permit is needed" (or lie and say "one's on the way"), they botch the job thoroughly, and when you start trying to get the contractor to fix it, they report you to the municipality for not getting a permit.
The definition of chutzpah...
Think of a permit as an insurance policy. It doesn't ALWAYS protect you, but, especially if you're not familiar with proper building techniques, it has a very good chance of catching something wrong before it becomes a major disaster that costs more to fix than the original job cost in the first place.
Unethical contractors will obviously prefer you didn't get a permit, figuring that they won't get caught for poor workmanship.
It isn't even necessarily unethical ones. Contractors have their strengths and weaknesses. One that can build a good house may suck at foundations.
There are times where I understand the work to be done well enough (especially if I'm doing it myself) that I can identify a good job, and I don't think I need a permit. But if it's something I'm not competent enough to inspect it properly myself, I'll insist on a permit.
[+] Mike Holmes is a Toronto-based contractor who has a TV show on HGTV and a few other stations. His show is all about the disasters contractors make, and their consequences. A fascinating show. We've had our own "Holmes moments" while renovating our bathroom (plumber practically severed two adjacent joists to put a drain in, the tub shutoff valves were hidden behind a "permanent" plywood wall. I'm having to sister lumber in to reinforce the joists, and the shutoff valves will be behind a door). The irony being that the plumber who did the plumbing was building the house for himself...
[Holmes has been responsible for several contractors losing their licenses and even one or two arrests for out-and-out fraud.]
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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On Thu, 03 Nov 2005 15:08:09 -0000, snipped-for-privacy@nortelnetworks.com (Chris Lewis) wrote:

Oh I do, love the show. I'm a strong believer that the line of defense for a home owner is education.
1. Inspectors are your friend(no seriously). Give one a call and ask them directly. One might even come out and check out what the work will involve and give you an educated answer to your questions.
2. Even if a permit is NOT required, only use contractors that are referred by real customers. Seek suggestions from work, church, family.
3. USE THE BBB. Example: There is a contractor in a nearby city. Some inspectors want to get their hands on him, but he always covers his arse. He tells the home owner to pull the permit to save money. If the home owner says no, he leaves. If the home owner does, they have a deal. The contractor does shoddy work(because he subs it out to unqualified people), and when it comes to inspection time, the home owner is hit for the violations. Home owners embarrished when they find out what happened do not legaly fight the contractor, often hire a real one to come in and finish the work. This 'bad' contractor has three hits on the BBB, and he finds victims.
4. Once you get a contactor, ask hime for example work and previous customers referrals.
Now we don't have to beat this dead horse, but the above will usually protect you from bad work. I've even thought about using escrow services for really big projects as a fall back. When someone asks about my work, I am proud to tell them, and after I'm done with a customer I ask them politely if in the future I can use them as a referral. But then, I like working and making customers happy, a big chump. ;)
Oh, so I still sincerely stand by my leaning towards getting a permit if borderline. Also, some homeowners let me have access to their properties, so I deal 100% with the inspection and permit process.
hth,
tom

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All Electrical work in my area is supposed to be permitted and inspected. I've always gotten permits for new service installations, but for a simple outlet addition, minor circuit modification, or "maintenance" (i.e. replacing a light or outlet), I wouldn't waste my time or theirs. Of course, I always make sure my work is up to code or better, regardless of whether I obtain a permit.
As for building permits, our local building department has a web site that details when a permit is needed:
----- Any residential non-structural project valued under $1,500 does not require a building permit. However, mechanical (heating, ventilating) and plumbing alterations or additions require a permit from the first dollar of value. Just because a permit may not be needed for your project, there are still minimum standards of quality which apply. For example, if you replace your old windows with new double or triple-glazed windows, you will not need a building permit as long as the value of the project doesn't exceed $1,500 and there are no structural changes to the residence. However, the windows and installation must still meet energy code requirements for new window installations. If you are employing a contractor to build your project, you'll need to include the contractor's charges when determining whether or not you meet the $1,500 threshold.
Building permits are not required for the construction or alteration of agricultural buildings. However, mechanical (heating, ventilating) and plumbing alterations or additions require a permit from the first dollar of value. To qualify as an agricultural building, the use of the structure must be limited to storage of feed, agricultural equipment such as tractors, and the housing of animals. If you park your recreational vehicle or personal vehicles in the building, it no longer qualifies as an agricultural building. While permits are not needed for these buildings, there are still zoning regulations which require a minimum distance from the building to the property line and other structures. In most cases, setback standards for agricultural buildings are greater than setbacks for garages and houses. You should call or visit the county Development Services Division to obtain setback information prior to starting your agricultural building project. -----
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dean wrote:

Do we need permit for the air we breathe? If my town has any say, it'll say yes.
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Yes. My town has a 'per body' tax. Each adult needs to pay $10 bucks per year to live and breath in my town.
I've always paid, affraid to find out what happens if you don't.
:(
tom
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