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Partner Post: What Can Happen If A Homeowner Doesn’t Obtain the Proper Permits

As people are spending more time inside their homes than before, the desire to give their space a new look is at an all-time high. Whether you want to redo a kitchen or finish a basement, one of the first things you’ll need to do before you begin anything is obtain proper permits. To some people, permits can be seen as a nuisance resulting in an added expense. However, permits exist for one main reason and that is safety.

The process for obtaining permits reviews your remodel plans and the permitting authority will typically send an inspector to make sure everything is being done safely and correctly. While this might extend your completion date, this process is essential in any remodel. On top of potential safety hazards, failure to obtain proper permits can result in a variety of consequences including city penalties, issues with insurance, and major obstacles should you choose to sell.

As I previously stated, the main reason for permits is safety and accuracy of work. While you might think the renovations are small, you could really be compromising your project by skipping the permit step. The culmination of unpermitted work can begin to add up and pose a very real safety risk to you and your family. For example, building a wall without double rated drywall or proper permits that happens to be a shared common area wall, such as in a high rise, would result in a violation of the fire rating requirements that protect you in the event of a fire

Another consequence you could face is if you ever decide to sell or refinance your home. Part of this process is having your home appraised. The appraiser will discover any work that was done without permits. If you are trying to refinance, this could affect your eligibility for a loan and might get you turned down from the bank completely.

City penalties are one of the biggest consequences a homeowner could face by performing unpermitted work. You might have made it this far without needing to sell your home or refinance and think you are in the clear. However, let’s say you added on an extension to your home. This is something that would get noticed by a city assessor who, in some areas, conducts annual property tax assessments. If the work is completed, you will be fined and required to apply for proper permits. Often times, you may have to prove the work was done correctly. We’ve even seen cases where work is required to be removed and rebuilt with proper permits and inspections.

At the end of the day, while pulling permits takes time, the time it would take to halt all construction because you didn’t pull proper permits is much worse. You could be forced to rip open completed walls or tear down new work completely so that it can be properly inspected. This will leave you with nothing to show except wasted time and less money in your bank account.

Pulling proper permits is essential to beginning any type of construction in your home. As many homeowners are looking to complete home improvement projects on their own, it is important that they take the necessary steps to ensure the work is not only being done correctly, but also safely. Permits are there to protect those that live within the home, so don’t try to cut corners because one way or another your “luck” will run out.

About the Author

Alissa Thompson is the COO of Cornerstone Managing Partners, full-service construction company based in Southern California. Her prior experiences on HOA boards afforded her the opportunity to build relationships with a number of vendors, construction firms, and subcontractors. Dedicated to the craft and her clients, Thompson works in the unique construction sector of occupied spaces.

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