To Permit or Not to Permit

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  #1  
Old 09-30-08, 07:02 PM
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To Permit or Not to Permit

Hi,

I have a dilemma regarding the conversion of an unfinished basement to one with a family room, a reading room, 2 offices and a storage area.

I intend on meeting building code requirements but I'm not keen on having an appraisal conducted which may increase our square footage by up to 50%.

Today, the value of the home 20% less than the value when it was purchased 6 years ago, yet the city of bloomfield Township will not reassess the values for 3 years. then again, I'm sure they will find a way to keep the taxation at the same rate...

My question:

If the city reassesses our property will they include the lower property value then add the additional square footage?

Does anyone know what they take into consideration? For example, storage room vs. office vs. habitable room with egress, etc.

Also, how many of you take a permit out vs. fly under radar.


Thanks,

Ken
 
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  #2  
Old 09-30-08, 11:26 PM
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You got to be kidding !!--you really don't think they will lower taxes in the tri-county area.They will increase your taxes. (sq. ft. finished basement )
You are taking a chance w/ your insurance Co. w/out a permit.
Many people do it w/out problems--some don't................
It's your decision.......................
Good luck.....................
 
  #3  
Old 10-01-08, 03:49 AM
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Talking

"Whats a permit"
No really the less government knows the better. I was changing a one room garage into office. My neighbor was friend with assesor and she saw me doing conversion while she was visiting him.
I was notified of an inspection. I took the room and filled with junk. After she viewed she put it down as unheated porch. I didn't hear anything about lack of permit. Also no tax change.
 
  #4  
Old 10-01-08, 03:55 AM
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Do it right. You will, as JHoward stated, be risking problems with your insurance company, as well as resale problems with unpermitted work. The tax people will find a way to increase your taxes regardless, and the downside of non permitted work is not worth it.
 
  #5  
Old 10-01-08, 03:58 AM
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If you have to sell for any reason you may have problems due to not having had permits and inspections. You could also have problems with ins. co. as j howard says. I would get a permit, I doubt the taxes would go up significantly, if at all. If you decide to go without the permit get an electrical inspector to do inspections on that part at least.
 
  #6  
Old 10-01-08, 06:29 AM
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When you mention insurance as a problem, you are referring to their coverage should some fire occur?

If you wired properly and according to code what does a permit provide other than a government issued acceptance criteria and taxation. Further, if all DIY'ers cabled like a licensed pro (because of forums like this) and if all work were done according to code, there would be no accidents (well, assuming workmanship was proper).

Ken
 
  #7  
Old 10-01-08, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by racerken View Post
When you mention insurance as a problem, you are referring to their coverage should some fire occur?

If you wired properly and according to code what does a permit provide other than a government issued acceptance criteria and taxation. Further, if all DIY'ers cabled like a licensed pro (because of forums like this) and if all work were done according to code, there would be no accidents (well, assuming workmanship was proper).

Ken
Agreed. The less they know, the better... It is all a ploy to give more money to your township and RAISE your taxes for the county, etc. I know a lot of people that have finished their basements without permits and never had any issues even with reselling. If you are living in a nice area and when you are ready to sell someone really wants your house, you will not have trouble selling even if you didn't have a permit. If someone made a 'stink' about it when they are buying, move on tot he next. Trust me, if someone REALLY wanted your house, they wouldn't care.
 
  #8  
Old 10-01-08, 02:30 PM
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PER what??
I cant even spell that....
 
  #9  
Old 10-01-08, 03:12 PM
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Well, I guess it depends on where you live...but here's my take.

Last time I did any work requiring a permit (on the Right Coast in VA), I talked with the inspector and asked lots of questions. He told me that permitting didn't talk to the tax people and vise-versa. Our taxes were based on annual estimates based on home sales in the area, except in the case of new construction. If a large outbuilding or addition was done, and one of the tax appraisers drove by or saw it, than a request was made to the permits office for plans and approvals and an appraisel was done.

Knew plenty of houses that had major improvements done on the interior, and their taxes didn't go up unless the sales in their area did. Which, when those upgraded houses sold, the others in the area did.

I personally value the advice and recommendations of the inspectors.

What happens if you get a truly dedicated Home Inspector or Appraiser when it comes time to sell? W/o recorded permits, you could have buyers who require verification of code compliance.

The Insurance thing I have no knowledge of, opinions vary. Some say as long as it is done with good intent, then they still pay, in case of a catastrophe. Don't know whether they would look at a complete basement remodel the same.

Some things, like a permit to replace a water heater seem a bit silly to me, but I'm not a Contractor or an Inspector.

EDIT: Again not sure of all areas, but aren't most assessments based on things like bedrooms, bathrooms, total square footage, things like that? Just from my (admittedly limited) experience, they are. Finished vs unfinished...maybe so..dunno
 

Last edited by Gunguy45; 10-01-08 at 03:23 PM. Reason: Thoughts
  #10  
Old 10-01-08, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
Well, I guess it depends on where you live...but here's my take.

Last time I did any work requiring a permit (on the Right Coast in VA), I talked with the inspector and asked lots of questions. He told me that permitting didn't talk to the tax people and vise-versa.

This has to vary by area, because when I had permits pulled for some work at my house it triggered a letter from the assessor's office stating that since a permit had been pulled they needed to re-assess my home to make sure they had an accurate value. I've pulled 3 permits and received 2 letters so far, so at least here, they are quite connected.
 
  #11  
Old 10-02-08, 11:01 AM
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I probably wasn't clear enuf....absolutely it depends on where you live. More rural areas are probably more lax in some ways than urban areas.

I'm a big fan of playing dumb sometimes. Go in to the Inspectors/Permits office and just ask. "Uhhhhh, I'm thinking of doing some work to my house...what things do I need permits for? Do I need to contact the Tax Appraisal people or do you guys do that for me? Who can I call to ask if I have questions?"

I've had inspectors give me their personal cell numbers if I had a question on weekends.

It's soooo much easier to make nice beforehand, than to try and make it right afterwards.

Not like the Military, where it was easier to beg forgiveness than to ask for permission. lol
 
  #12  
Old 10-02-08, 12:43 PM
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FYI, every contractor we spoke to for electrical, plumbing, hvac... will do work under the radar. Probably because of the bad economic climate (but that's another topic).

I'm moving forward anyway but concurrently will visit the buidling department with a wig on and ask really stupid questions to see if they will disclose how they reassess property taxation values.

Of course, all along, many pictures will be taken. I'm probably going to install an egress to the basement just to play it safe (and it would be nice to use it in case of a fire).

Thanks for all the comments. At least I'm not alone.

Ken
 
  #13  
Old 10-02-08, 03:11 PM
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@racerken
While you are at it--drop over to your insurance co. & ask them what happens if you have a fire, flood,etc. --started in
basement--in an area (determined by the fire inspector/insurance investigator ) that was installed w/out
permit & Twp. inspection.
Aren't you curious what they will say...............................
It may cost you a lot more than your tax increase
 
  #14  
Old 10-02-08, 03:29 PM
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"(well, assuming workmanship was proper)" You said it yourself. What you are missing, I think, is the fact that with a permit comes stepped interval inspections by your county inspector to ensure the "workmanship was proper". So many people, DIYer's as well as "under the radar" so called professionals will cut corners, use the improper sized wire, make junctions in undersized boxes, and on and on. They are in place to protect you, so you should use them.
I am remodeling my cabin so far back in the mountains, sunshine is delivered via truck, but I am permitting all the work. I don't want something to happen and the insurance not pay, or have a good buyer on the line and have them balk at work not permitted.
But I feel we aren't getting anywhere with this line since you already have your mind made up. You asked for advice, take it.
 
  #15  
Old 10-02-08, 03:51 PM
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Hi Chandler,

First I want to apologize to you for not following everyones advise and if you feel that I'm not getting anywhere, it's probably because I am ignorant. Human too. In this forum, I will vent my questions, my comments, my reactions, etc. I do value your recommendations.

I intend to talk to the insurance company and I'll post the response.

I will read the advice that I receive and I do appreciate the responses but following advice is another issue. We all have are uniqueness in that we all have capabilities or have access certain capabilities. If you contract professionals and conduct professional level work is there still risk? I think the risk decreases significantly, almost close to zero. However, chaos and other theories will affect nature, statistics and other earthly events which will cause a fire. In the end, i guess you have to weigh the consequences against your decision to see how the chips fall.

It's all risk vs. rewards.

And who knows, I may take the high road and I may decide to get a permit in the end. No decision is final until the action is taken.

Thanks,

Ken
 
  #16  
Old 10-06-08, 03:31 PM
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Check to see if you need a permit. In the three municipalities I've lived in they only required permits if you were increasing the footprint of the house. If you stayed inside it was no problem. Code still applied, but they weren't inspecting. The big issue is egress. It just makes sense that if you have living area or a bedroom you need a direct way out.
 
  #17  
Old 10-08-08, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by racerken View Post
FYI, every contractor we spoke to for electrical, plumbing, hvac... will do work under the radar. Probably because of the bad economic climate (but that's another topic).
Ken
To be fair, if you can afford contractors you can afford to pay the tax on your improvements. Its tax deductible so it is not all bad.

Originally Posted by racerken View Post
Of course, all along, many pictures will be taken. I'm probably going to install an egress to the basement just to play it safe (and it would be nice to use it in case of a fire).Ken
I think that is the understatement of the year.
 
  #18  
Old 10-16-08, 09:10 AM
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My wife visited the Bloomfield Township building dept and was greeted with a very hostile crowd. So hence my negativity.

During my visit, they were very nice and explained 'everything' in detail. The inspectors name was George Kilpatrick. He explained all about reality in finishing basements for older homes where meeting code for example on ceiling heights would be impossible (because the heights are too low), they simply require a letter stating a waiver when a worker hits their head on a joist. He pretty much offered over the desk assistance for me.

As for the increase in taxes, I have to decipher the tax code as it is very difficult to understand. But again, I'll have to go back...

Now leaning towards flying above radar.

Ken
 
  #19  
Old 10-16-08, 05:27 PM
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When you say " flying above radar"--does that mean --no permits ? or permits?
 
  #20  
Old 10-16-08, 06:07 PM
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Under= no one looks. Over= things are seen.

racerken...I think yer making a smart decision.
 
  #21  
Old 10-16-08, 07:25 PM
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I just never heard --above the radar unless you had just dropped a bomb on it----
 
  #22  
Old 10-16-08, 08:45 PM
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  #23  
Old 10-16-08, 11:06 PM
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Are you going to use radar absorbing stealth to continue your
project...................??

BTY-is that an 35A B or C model ?
 
  #24  
Old 10-17-08, 03:36 AM
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But this is FAST! <a href="http://s76.photobucket.com/albums/j3/larrychandler/?action=view&current=Soundbarrier.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i76.photobucket.com/albums/j3/larrychandler/Soundbarrier.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>
 
  #25  
Old 10-17-08, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by j HOWARD View Post
Are you going to use radar absorbing stealth to continue your
project...................??

BTY-is that an 35A B or C model ?
That radar absorbing material is really just pixie dust.

I'm checking on the variant. I was just in El Segundo at the line. Pretty neat stuff. No inspectors!

Have you seen this video?
http://s70.photobucket.com/albums/i1...edVehicles.flv
 
  #26  
Old 10-17-08, 09:41 AM
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Looks like a Stryker ( or copy ) w/ a 105.............
Missing: Raytheon Quick Kill System..................

No inspections.........
 
  #27  
Old 10-17-08, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by j HOWARD View Post
Are you going to use radar absorbing stealth to continue your
project...................??

BTY-is that an 35A B or C model ?
------------------------------------------------------------
This is a B model.
 
  #28  
Old 10-18-08, 08:25 AM
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Don't forget to let us know what your insurance co. has to say.
have fun........................
 
  #29  
Old 10-19-08, 01:11 PM
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FWIW...

When we purchased our new house a couple of years ago, I came to some important conclusions about the inspectors in my area. 1) They exist to keep the honest people honest, and 2) They exist to generate income for the city.

After final inspections (and in fact thruought construction,) my untrained eye found and forced the correction of numerous code and safety problems, including electrical and structural problems visible with only minimal observation. Also, after a few months, we found (and the builder fixed) problems with improperly prepared footers that led to settling. All of the issues, some quite serious, were not found by the city's vaunted inspectors.

Substandard or poorly supervised (my problem) work, all too common in today's construction, will not be caught by the city inspectors. If the job is going to be done well and most importantly, safely, it is because of you or your contractors.

This may not be true everywhere, but it certainly seems to be true in my area.

I personally am doing my basement, and making sure my work is up to code by educating myself well, and having experienced professionals with whom I am friends check my work.

This is especially true I feel in the electrical work, since there is (in my project- no structural work) the greatest room for catastrophic error.

Just my observation...
 
  #30  
Old 10-20-08, 08:33 PM
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I spoke with my Insurance company.

During construction, they have a concern with unlicensed contractors in that if an unlicensed contractor should damage your house, get hurt in your house, create a mess, you are not covered. They said it gets really messy because everyone starts suing each other. Someone (a worker without a license or insurance) could come into your house, get hurt, then file a lawsuit against you and your home owners policy will not cover you. -> hire someone that has insurance and is profesional. (you know the mortgage brokers were all professionals)

If you are conducting the work yourself and hurt yourself, you are covered.
If you are conducting the work yourself and you burn the house down (by accident), you are covered.
If you burn the house down on purpose, you are not covered and the authorities will provide you with free meals and a cot for 5 to 10 years. -> be very careful and ask lots of questions. (case in point, I hired an electrical contractor to review my plans and intentions, paid him for his time)

After you complete your project, simply call the insurance company, inform them what you spent on this project, explain what you've improved, added, whatever. They will provide new coverage for the amount you've invested. After all, in case of a claim, all you are insured for is the replacement cost to repair the property back to the original insured state.

Now, when mentioning work without a permit, etc. they will clearly mention that they cannot condone any improper processes or anti civil behavior. (whatever that meant. sounded like I was not supposed to riot in front of city hall or something like that).

So ha, there you have it.

Anyone know the percentage of egress window opening space vs. room square footage?

Ken
 
  #31  
Old 10-20-08, 11:43 PM
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I will take the 5th.......................
 
  #32  
Old 10-21-08, 07:18 AM
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Egress windows are 5.7 sf of clear opening...they have specific requirements on minimum width and height as well as height above the floor. Every window sizing catalog has the windows that meet egress code clearly marked.

Heres a code paper from MN...
http://www.ci.rochester.mn.us/depart...QUIREMENTS.pdf

Check with yer friend down at the Permits office, he probably has a paper thats similar.
 
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