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What is a building permit?

What is a building permit? 

In order to begin construction or renovation of a structure, a building permit must be obtained from a local government. This permit is written, express approval from the local government.

The purpose of the permit is to ensure the project plans comply with the local standards for land use, zoning, and construction. Zoning and land-use policies are enforced through these standards for the safety of current and future owners and occupants.

The building permit process may address structural integrity, zoning, sanitation, water, and sewer lines, fire protection, and electrical services.

When is a building permit needed?

Building permits are not required for all home construction and renovation projects. A homeowner or contractor can usually perform simple repairs and replacements without obtaining a permit. Any project involving new construction, major changes or additions to your home, or its mechanical system, typically requires a building permit from a local building department. In most cases, a contractor will handle the permit process. Obtaining a permit is the owner’s responsibility if the work will be performed independently. Some types of work may require that only licensed professionals perform the work. The regulations vary from region to region, so homeowners, builders, or developers may need to consult with appropriate authorities.

How do I obtain a building permit?

Each state or local government has different regulations for construction to ensure the buildings are safe for public use. Obtaining a permit can require several steps such as:

  • Completing the permit application manually or online. 
  • Drawings for the project’s architecture and landscape. In the case of a large project, a professional may be hired to ensure the building will be compliant with construction codes. 
  • Scheduling a meeting for the approval of the plans. Depending on the type of project, the approval period may be days, weeks, or months. It may take longer to approve a project plan that requires corrections and revisions. 
  • Obtaining the permit after the plan has been approved. 
  • To ensure construction is in line with the project plan, schedule inspections with regulatory agencies. Inspections are performed throughout the entire construction process, not just once. 
  • The total completion of the construction and local government approval.
man-with-a-building-permit

Can I bypass the building permit?

Many homeowners finish home improvement projects without applying for a permit, paying the application fee, or having the work inspected and approved before beginning. Although such projects may meet the necessary standards and never cause problems, bypassing the formal permit process is not good practice. There are several potential hazards, such as: 

When selling the home, the buyers’ inspection may reveal remodeling or additions that were completed without permits which may not be fully compliant. As a result, the sale of the home may be prevented, and the owner may have to undo the previous work and start over – this time with a permit to sell the home.

It’s possible the homeowner’s damage and liability policy won’t cover damages caused by fire, structural collapse, or major plumbing issues if the damage was caused by work that wasn’t inspected or permitted.

It is good practice to obtain a building permit before beginning any construction project. This will help ensure quality work that meets government standards and local health and safety codes while also protecting your property accordingly.

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