How do I know if I need a building permit? I understand that anything
that will change the footprint on the ground of the house needs a
permit. And if it changes the looks, maybe. Adding a floor would, but
painting would not. If the work is regulated by code (electrical,
plumbing, sewer), yes.
But people in this town have taken out permits for new wall paper. Or
to slip in a replacement window.
Can a town cancel your occupancy permit if you don't comply?
I've never heard of that happening, but I suppose it could. They're
unlikely to cancel it for anything short of a major structural
expansion/rework that was in violation of zoning or code. More likely
they'll fine your ass off.
Building permits are one of those things it's tough to come out ahead
on. You might win in the short run, but in the long run it often bites
you in the ass. In my neck of the woods, the fines start with an
after-the-fact building permit application costs triple what it would
have cost ahead of time and you've already pissed off the inspectors.
They view it as being disrespectful and trying to slip one by them. So
when they need verification of insulation or a footing, guess what? No
favors are coming your way. Knock a hole, dig it up, let me see it.
And I'll come around to inspect when I'm damn good and ready.
In the past, when I was young and stupid, I'd done work for people who
were dead set against getting a building permit, so I wrote into my
contract that they were responsible for getting the permit and for all
costs, fines and penalties due to work stoppage. It never came up but
I could imagine it would get messy pretty quickly so I had to protect
myself. I no longer work without a permit. Not worth the risk.
Your town probably has a web site that lists all of the things that
require a building permit. If not, call up and ask. If you're
paranoid, call from a different phone and disguise your voice. :)
You call the town hall and ask for the building inspector or permit
department. Most structural changes require one, cosmetics do not.
Electrical and plumbing usually do but sometimes repairs to existing work do
not. What goes in my town does not always apply to yours.
Call the building/planning department in your community. If you're
super-paranoid, due it from a public phone or at work or something, but in
my experience they don't ask names and are happy to answer questions.
You need a building permit if your town requires one. I've seen towns that
require a permit to replace a sink, others will let you pretty "replace" any
thing you want.
Call your building department, they're not the enemy. You will find that
most inspectors would rather work with you then try to find what you are
covering up. Plus you might find that while you are doing A, B and C, you an
rough in for D thru G on the same permit thus saving an inspection.
You can get your CO removed for failure to inspect but I think you would
have bigger problems by then.
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