If you’re thinking about a home remodel, your list of questions for prospective remodeling contractors likely includes things like remodeling costs, how long it will take (and how do they ensure they stick to timelines!) and if they’ve previously done a home remodeling project of a similar size and scope to yours. What might not be on your list is a question about the permits needed for a home remodel. Like many homeowners, you likely assume ALL home remodelers pull permits, but this is not the case. Here’s what you need to know.
When are permits needed for a home remodel?
Although it varies by jurisdiction, the short answer is you don’t need a permit if you’re simply replacing countertops or installing new cabinets. If you are undertaking a remodel in any part of your home that requires moving or adding mechanical, electrical, plumbing or walls within your home, you need a permit. Some repairs – like replacing a water heater or HVAC unit – even require a permit.
Why are permits important?
Your completed home remodel looks fantastic, so why worry if a permit wasn’t pulled? The City or County may never even know you had a remodel done. Think of permits as insurance policies. If anything should go wrong (such as an electrical fire), and your contractor didn’t pull the necessary permits, you’ve got no coverage and no recourse. When you come to resell your home, it can also be a headache when your potential buyer’s first question is, “Was this work permitted?”. Nothing cools excited buyers more than not knowing what lies behind the walls when it comes to unpermitted work. In some cases, it may also impact your home’s appraisal.
Why don’t all remodelers pull permits?
Some home remodeling companies or general contractors will tell you that you don’t need a permit for your home remodel. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most common is it’s a way for them to save time by getting to construction sooner and avoiding government inspector visits during their work and money as permits have to be paid for. It also allows them to skirt around limitations set by the state as to the size of projects they’re authorized to do.
Can I pull a permit myself?
In some scenarios, home remodelers put the onus on the homeowner to pull the permits themselves. Yes, it can be done – but it’s a hassle. Home remodeling isn’t your full time job, so it shouldn’t be on your shoulders to pull your own permits. Ask your remodeler to include this within their scope of services so you avoid any issues down the road.
What’s the bottom line?
If you’re thinking of a major remodel, openly ask your remodeling contractor at the outset about the permits required for your home remodel and don’t take any chances! We also find that City or County government offices are more than happy to help people remodel right, so don’t hesitate to call them. At Synergy Design & Construction, we pull permits for every client, every time. It’s all part of helping you to renovate happy and it allows you to rest easy!