It’s all too tempting to skip one step of the renovation process. After all, why bother to pull a permit when odds are, no one is going to notice what’s going on inside your house, right?
Unfortunately, many homeowners have discovered that not acquiring a building permit can be a very costly mistake. Take one area family whose entire downstairs renovation was completed without a building permit. When they later failed to produce the necessary documentation, a building inspector required that they remove all the sheetrock (which had already been finished, trimmed out and painted), remove the cabinetry that was in place, and basically gut the entire area down to the studs to ensure that the proper insulation had been used. So not only did this family have to pay a fine for not getting a permit in the first place and then pay for a complex project twice, but they also had to endure the heartbreak of seeing their dream torn down and the emotional strain of rebuilding the project.
What homeowners may not realize is that there are many reasons why proper permitting pays off. In the first place, obtaining the necessary permits will ensure that your project is safe and up to code. Next, in this era of tighter mortgage requirements, more lenders are requiring code compliance checks before approving loans – which is something a permit ensures, whether you’re looking to secure a renovation loan or to sell your house a few years down the road.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, permits give homeowners a level of confidence in the professionalism of their contractor. In fact, it’s a definite red flag if a contractor asks you as a homeowner to pull a permit in your own name. That often means that the contractor is not properly licensed and thus is unable to pull the permit him or herself. Working with an unqualified contractor will cost you far more in the long run than the small fee (starting at $60 in Mecklenburg County) that pulling a permit actually entails.
Some small projects do not require permits, and these vary by county. In Mecklenburg County for example, you don’t need a permit for the replacement of a faucet, replacing fuses, repair of damaged plumbing lines, and minor remodeling or repair of existing one- or two-family structures if the total cost does not exceed $5,000. You do need a permit regardless of the total project cost if the work involves the addition, repair or replacement of load-bearing members, or the addition of or changes in the design of plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical wiring, appliances, etc. When in doubt, visit www.meckpermit.com or call Mecklenburg County’s Residential Technical Answer Center at (704) 432-RTAC. For information on municipalities outside of Mecklenburg County, please contact Palmer Custom Builders @firstname.lastname@example.org or call 704.544.0367.
In the end, permits are a small price to pay for peace of mind.