Go Back  DoItYourself.com Community Forums > Interior Improvement Center > Basements, Attics and Crawl Spaces
Reload this Page >

Basement HVAC permit situation... opinions needed

Basement HVAC permit situation... opinions needed

Old 06-16-14, 08:56 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Churchville MD
Posts: 219
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Basement HVAC permit situation... opinions needed

Let me start off by saying, I know the typical mantra here is to operate by permit, and I am also a believer and general supporter of that.
However I have found a rather frustrating situation an I am curious if there are folks that have been through similar and have advice.

The backstory:
I am (slowly) finishing part of my basement, a typical 70s Ranch. The space is about 500 sq feet, a main big room and a smaller one off to the side. It has an open fireplace (no insert) in the big room. When the PO (original owner & builder) set up the central air, they ran 2 supply line ducts in the big room area so they are already there in the ceiling, although in the center instead of near outer wall so they need to be extended, and tie into a return (there is already a perfect place for that too).
It is very dry, and stays warm/cool in the winter/summer. Virtually no "load".

I understand codes are there for a reason, and always strive to build to or exceed code. Likewise although permits are a pain and often viewed as a way for the county grab more $$, I also understand why they are there.
So for this project I went and got a permit as the homeowner for this job.

In my county, homeowners can do framing etc, and electrical IF you pass a test (ergh that's another grumbling story) but not HVAC. That must be pulled by a license holder.
When I first got the permit, I told them I didn't know yet who would do the HVAC... and asked since there was almost nothing to do (just frame it in and add a return) could I just skip it. Of course they said NO, but have licensee do it. They gave me the primary permit and said "call us for the HVAC when its ready to do".

So here is the rub. I have had 3 HVAC guys now tell me "Don't bother with the permit, just do it yourself". The last guy literally said immediately on walking in, "Why aren't you doing this? It will cost your $25 in supplies. Yeah, I can do it but it's gonna cost $500 and its stupid for you to spend that." The previous 2 guys clearly had no interest and I couldn't get them to come back.

Meanwhile I have been dragging this out long enough, the permit has expired anyway...
So now I am very frustrated. How am I supposed to get past their requirement if nobody wants the job? It would be soooo easy for me to just do this.

I see a couple of options:
1 - suck it up, renew my permit, find somebody to pay to do it.
2 - forget all the permits and just finish it myself. If the county ever asks tell them I never completed it. There are a LOT of reasons this would make life easier! Not a fan of this since they already know.
3 - Renew permit but do small HVAC mods and return tie-in myself, then play stupid, don't bring up HVAC w/ county. Last guy here suggested maybe they wouldn't even ask and just let it go, and if they did say PO did it (grandfathered in) and I didn't change anything. Or if I get in a bind then, call him back and he hinted maybe he'd sign off on it (I'd pay him for his time of course). That gets a little sticky.

Or... since there is a fireplace... could I not just say, "Look, the space is already heated. I don't need to add anything." Is that even true? It of course dosn't meet current code for fireplaces but if I take it "as existing"... so I doubt that'd fly.

Right now I'm leaning towards #3 and just see how it goes. But what other angles should I be aware of?
The whole reason I go w/ permits (aside from being a law abiding citizen) is just in case, when I sell the house some buyer is really anal and goes and checks it out, I don't want to deal with them saying "Hey, no proof this is up to code" etc.
Old 06-17-14, 04:09 PM
Temporarily Suspended
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: NY
Posts: 10,982
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
The way I see it, there are only two ways that not having the permit can haunt you at a later date. The first is if you decide to sell the house & something appears not to be right. Some of my best jobs were rectifying such situations. That's not a big deal.

The second possibility is worse. That's if there is a fire & the insurance company won't pay because there was no certificate of completion, from the building dept. Even if a licensed contractor does the job, if there is no inspection, it doesn't count, in many places. I have a customer who's house has so many electrical violations, the insurance will never pay, if the cause is electrical. Except for flood insurance, he's paying for nothing.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: