This is a question that comes up over and over. Clients always ask, "Do I really need a permit for this project?" The answer is always a resounding "YES!"
There are many reasons why a permit is necessary for every remodeling project, but let's start with the top three.
1. Homeowners Insurance
Any project completed in your home could potentially have an impact on your insurance should something go wrong. If a permit was not pulled, your insurance company does not have to cover any damages. They rely heavily on the local officials to check all work that is done and ensure that it meets all current building codes. If you cannot show that the work was inspected during the course of the project, you may not have a chance of getting the insurance company to cover you!
2. Resale Value
Another reason for pulling a permit is for resale purposes. For example, adding on to your home or finishing a basement or attic all becomes livable space. When you are ready to sell your home, you will want to use this new space as part of the selling points. If it is discovered that a permit was never pulled for the work, you will be subject to fines from the town and inspections to see if the work was done to code. I have heard of local officials even making homeowners remove a large portion of the work so they can see how it was wired, plumbed, framed, etc to ensure accuracy. Then you end up paying someone a second time to close everything back up.
3. Current Codes
And finally, and probably the most important reason to pull a permit, is to verify that the contractor you have selected for your project is following all current building codes. Your local building department officials will ensure that the work is being done properly so you have no major issues down the road. Just imagine a contractor using a non-licensed electrician to wire your house! That could be a major disaster!
Building Officials sometimes get a bad rap by asking you do things that cost more money or making you re-do portions of the project, but there is a reason they are doing this. They are looking out for you and their job is to ensure that the work is done correctly.
Embrace the process...it could save you money and a great deal of heartache down the road!