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How to Obtain a Building Permit - What You Need To Know

Building permits are necessary when adding any additions to your home, building a new home, or structure, and for some renovations depending on how extensive they are. While it may seem like a bureaucratic issue, a building permit can actually save your life. How? When you submit a building permit application, your local municipality will overlook your building plans to ensure that they are up to building codes in the state and town. For example, the building codes may be different in areas where hurricanes are frequent than in areas that have mild climates with less risk of natural disasters occurring. If you don’t know these building codes, you may be risking your and your family’s life in the process. Why Building Permits Are Necessary Before we explain how to obtain a building permit, it’s important to know why these permits are so important in the first place. It’s far easier to not apply for a permit, but there are consequences in doing so. When you apply for a permit, you will: * Keep your contractor honest. Most of the construction work is hidden by the exterior or interior of your home, but a building permit will ensure that your contractor uses safe methods and materials in building your home. Inspections will verify the work that has been done. * Permits walk you through projects that you may do on your own. When you get a permit, you have to provide plans for the project that will take place. The building inspector will ask you to revise your plans if they do not meet standard practices and codes. * Any buildings that are constructed without a permit may result in your insurance company denying a claim if something happens to your property. This can even mean liability claims against you for injuries that occurred on your land. * Permits will also add to the value of your home because you followed the rules and regulations of your local municipality. Getting Your Building Permit There are two ways to get a building permit: apply for it yourself, or have the contractor apply for it on your behalf. Ideally, you’ll have your contractor get the permit for you. Reliable and trustworthy contractors will ensure that all permits are available when the project is started, and he can address any issues that arise during the application process. It’s far easier to let your contractor get the permit for you. But, if you’re going to do the work yourself, you need to know how the process works. Plus, if you’re hiring somebody to help you, you’ll need proof of insurance for worker’s compensation coverage when you apply for the permit. So, it can be very tricky to ensure that you follow all the codes set by your local municipality. And, you can always call your local municipality if you have any questions regarding permit application procedures. You need a few items before you begin: * Formal Blueprints or Shop Drawings: An engineer or architect will be required for more in-depth projects. But, for a small project, a simple drawing may be enough to satisfy the requirements. A site map of the location of the building in respects to the property may be needed for a new building that is being placed on the land. Your plans and building permit application will be submitted to your local building department for a review. You want to plan ahead because approval can take as long as two or more weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the project that’s taking place. If you’re doing something simple like installing a water heater, a permit is usually granted within a day. Building from a kit, such as a shed, will require the documentation from the manufacturer. This will be used as your building plans that will be submitted with your permit. The fee for building permits will be assessed and can vary widely. A small improvement may be just $50, while building a new home may cost $500 or more in building permit fees alone. Building Permit Inspections It’s fairly simple to apply for a building permit, but the inspection process is normally where builders get nervous about the application. The inspections are meant to ensure that the construction meets building codes. Inspectors may be sent to your job site to see what has been done and ensure that the work matches the plans on the permit. The methods and materials used will be under scrutiny at this time, and an inspector will hold up work a little bit. A critical examination will take place, but this is the norm, so don’t be worried when an inspector is sent to your home. Major building projects will require numerous inspections, which will need to be scheduled by you or your contractor. You’ll need to plan the work around the inspections. If the inspection fails, you’ll need to correct the problem before you proceed any further. A good example of this is when an inspector needs to examine the footings. You may have a cement truck ready and waiting to pour the cement, but if the footings are not inspected first, this will hold up the construction project dramatically. Building a new home, will require approximately five inspections: * Footing Inspection * Foundation * Framing * Fire Protection * Final Inspection If you’re adding an addition to your home or remodeling a portion of your home, it’s important to know that the inspector will not look at other areas of the home. For example, if you remodel your kitchen, you don’t have to worry about an inspector going into the bathroom and stating that something is not up to code. In the event that you are going to halt construction, you may come across several rules and regulations. If, for any reason, you decide to take a “break” during construction, you may need to apply for a permit extension or reapply altogether. This occurs when the break lasts more than three months. But, this will depend on what state and city you live in.