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
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
William Morris, o.k.a. Solace the Shire Gravemaker, KCRF
o.k.a. Nicholas Thatch, No One In Particular
The reasons are easy
- It's the law
- Possible repercussions if found out later (they can make you take them
- 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.
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)
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.
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
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.
On 15 Sep 2004 20:27:19 GMT, email@example.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
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
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
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)"
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.
(Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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.
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.
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.
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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