Monday, August 17, 2009

When Is A Buiding Permit Required And Why

Do-it-yourselfers often wonder if they need a permit to make an improvement to their home. While a building permit is required for almost anything you do to your home, here are the most frequent exceptions:
1)Painting, wallpapering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops and similiar items;
2) One story detached structures (tool sheds, playhouses and similiar uses) less than 8 feet tall and less than 120 square feet;
3) Fences not more than 6 feet tall;
4) Retaining walls not more than 4 feet tall;
5) Sidewalks, driveways, and uncovered decks not more than 30 inches above grade level;
6) Above-ground, prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 2 feet deep and less than 5,000 gallons;
7) Shade cloth structures;
8) Swings and playground equipment; and
9) Attached window awnings extending not more than 54 inches from the house.

Permits ensure that the work being done meets the current codes and building standards and ensure your safety and the safety of your neighbors. State law requires that you have an approved permit prior to the work being started.

There are many benefits to getting a permit before you do any projects. When you apply for the permit, your project will be reviewed to make sure your project meets the current standards. As an example, you want to build a 90-square-foot patio cover and attach it the back side of your house. The plans examiner will make sure your rafters are of sufficient size and spacing for depth of the cover, that the attachment to the house is adequate, that you have adequately sized footings and check all other important details of the patio cover to make sure it is safe.

The consequences of starting a project without a permit can be costly. There is a penalty fee charged if you are "caught" doing work without a permit. If the work done doesn't meet the current codes, you will have to bring the project up to code or tear it down.

There are other liabilities associated with improvements made without a permit. All permits issued for your home are a matter of public record. If a home is for sale, a potential buyer may search the City records to see if permits were issued for any work done. If any work done without a permit is discovered, you may be required get a permit and to bring the work up to the current code.

And finally, your insurance company, in case of damage, may not cover work done without a permit, and may not cover damage to your home if the work done without a permit was the cause of the damage.

Permits protect everyone.

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