Do I need a permit for my Basement renos ?

Old 03-03-05, 01:01 PM
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Question Do I need a permit for my Basement renos ?

Hi..this is my first posting here (but what a great forum !!!)

My situation is that I am considering doing some work in my basement. I have a new house (6 months old) with a completely unfinished basement. I am thinking of putting in a 3 piece bath and perhaps finishing part of the basement. I may have a contractor do all of it or I may do part of it myself.

My question I need a building permit ?

So far I am very confused. I many ways I would like to not get a permit, due to the extra complications, costs, and I will likely need to pay more taxes after my assessment goes up.

Of course I get different opinions from all the different people I talk to. For example...

When I talk to the city, they say I definately need a permit (of course they are the city..what else are they going to say)

When I talk to the contractors, they say I don't need a permit (of course, that would make their quote go higher and they may not get the business..not to mention all the extra work for them)

When I talk to my insurance, they say they don't care about the permit. They said I only need to ensure I have licenced contractors, so that they can be sued if anything goes wrong.

Help !

...signed a "confused" do-it-yourselfer
Old 03-03-05, 01:20 PM
majakdragon's Avatar
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Reid, Welcome to the DIY Forums.
GET the permits. This will protect you if you decide to sell later. It will protect you if something goes wrong. It will protect you PERIOD.
With permits, the job has to be done correctly and to code. If there is an insurance claim, it will insure that the insurance company cannot deny liability due to improper workmanship.
YUP, it is a little more expensive in the beginning but it is worth it for peace of mind later. Any contractor that does not want to get a permit should be omitted from consideration of doing the work.
Being LEGAL is just part of life. Do it or regret it later. Good luck.
Reply back if you have further questions.
Old 03-03-05, 01:23 PM
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Any changes to the originally permitted structure require a permit and the proper inspections.
Old 03-03-05, 01:24 PM
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thanks....most likely the best way to go
Old 03-04-05, 05:04 AM
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2 cents worth

If your house is new, I would wait till the yearend warranty before doing any renovation.
I do service repair for house builder and found that some warranty where cancelled due to modification of the house.
Be safe and wait.
As for permit, if your in Canada, the town taxe department done not consider a finish basement if the ceilling is open.
You could have all the basement finish with gold but if you painted the joist instead of drywall. they cant hike your tax proprety for it's not finish

good luck

Old 03-04-05, 01:04 PM
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Pulling a permit or not, is not the question that should not be asked. The question should be why not pull a permit?

Most common reason I hear to not to get a permit - " I don’t want my taxes to go up!?” In the same breath they say "the improvements will increase my property value". How can it if you haven't done it legally? No record, no increased property value! This excuse seems to make the homeowner make the wrong choice and they do the work without a permit. Is this right? It is not.

The other is the offer by a Licensed Contractor or unlicensed who says, "You don't need a permit besides we can offer you a better deal without it". Is this legal? It is not. Are you going to trust them just because it "might" save you a few dollars? Are you sure they are licensed? Don't they realize that if a licensed contractor is caught doing work without a permit can be penalized by State law? Those who care about their business and are legally licensed will not make such an offer. Do they even have the necessary insurance while they are working on your project? Are they going to be responsible for anything that is wrong after they leave? Are you really willing to pay for the work twice? Are these enough issues to think about?

Homeowners Insurance becomes an issue. In the event of a loss, obviously your improvements that were done without a permit will not be covered. If you unable to validate any improvements made, legally, you will have problems. Once an adjuster sees that there was work that was done without a permit or through a licensed contractor, he just may deny the entire claim. Not knowing what other work may have been done and never got inspected you could be facing a major problem. Investing in a $50 or $500 permit is a minor item when it relates to a home whether it is $75,000 or $500,000! Why risk it?

Selling the home down the line...there is a form that must be filled out by the seller’s “Disclosure Statement” which will cover anything and everything that is documented on the life cycle of the home including “your projects”. They might involve something minor or something that should have had a permit. Lenders may deny your buyer's loan because of no permits obtained due to the liability that could jeopardize the integrity of their “collateral”. Not disclosing the items is a violation of the law and you can be subject to civil or criminal actions that will just ruin your day. What you think you can get away with now will haunt you later, I guarantee it!

“Reduced sale price of home” could be a real issue. Most properties sold now may be subject to state-licensed Home Inspection Services. These services are excellent as they go into attics, crawl spaces, extremely thorough. All questionable areas are noted on their reports. These may be required within your state or within a specific county or municipality. These can be mandated by the Lender regardless of state/local requirements. In some cases, they can be requested by the Buyer. Lenders may not even approve a loan if permits were not obtained. You may have to take a $20,000 or $30,000 hit for an example on the sales price of the home! Can you afford this? More and more buyers are hiring a private home inspector due to those that fail to get permits when required. Failure to allow the inspection on behalf of the prospective buyer surely will not be in your best interest. These inspections will involve everything on the home to include all structural and mechanical systems. Everything must meet the “current local codes”.

What happens if I get caught without a permit? You might have to pay double fees for the permit plus possibly a code compliance inspection fee, plus .... You may indeed have to remove any improvements that were done without permits and trust me, they can do it!

So if you want to increase the value of your home, ensure the safety of those who reside in it, and enjoy the comforts until you move on, obtaining a permit is the best option all around. Waiting for a year to expire is a waste of time and who really needs to wait. As long as the work was done legally, any problems that would occur from the result of the original builder for the original structure would not be a questionable issue.

Hope this helps!

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