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Old 03-14-2008, 04:57 PM   #1
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How many people get permits when remodeling/finishing a basement in there house........so should you get one or not?

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Old 03-14-2008, 06:41 PM   #2
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Whether or not you need a permit depends on what you're doing. Typically surficial changes do not need a permit, but changes to exterior framing or significant utility upgrades do. Check your local building codes and if you need a permit, then get one. It's a hell of a lot easier than trying to explain why you didn't get on after the fact

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Old 03-14-2008, 07:31 PM   #3
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One good thing about getting a permit is the inspections that are required before covering up wiring or plumbing that may not be up to code.
I think the small price you may pay would be worth the peace of mind you'll get when the job is done.
It may also help when the house is sold to assure any buyer that there are no hidden problems.
Check with your local Building Dept.for their requirements.
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Old 03-14-2008, 07:33 PM   #4
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How many people get permits when remodeling/finishing a basement in there house........so should you get one or not?
It's the law. Try doing it without a permit, and then tell your local building dept. what you did, and see if they think, or say it is ok.


The fact of the matter is, that permits protect home owners.

It protects them from shoddy workmanship from hack contractors.
It protects them from making alterations on their home that may endanger themselves and their families.

If you were ever to talk to a building inspector or building commissioner, they will tell you that their priority and their responsibility is to look out for the safety and welfare of the home owner.
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Old 03-14-2008, 11:02 PM   #5
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RANT ALERT
The reason why getting a permit makes sense to me = $$$

- to avoid spending extra money: if the building department finds out about your unpermitted work they can impose a number of expen$ive penalties (like making you re-do the work - a building department can sticker a house as uninhabitable because of unpermitted work, sorry, you didn't get a permit, no one can live in the house until it is torn out).

- to get extra money: if you sell your house your permitted work may add value to your house. Conversely, if you do not get a permit you may not be able to include your work in a real estate listing (one of my neighbors lost 900 sqft of his house because he did not get a permit for his very nice remodel).

- to protect your investment. Talk to your HO insurance agent. Say your basement remodel floods damaging $10K worth of remodeling (drywall, carpet, electrical, plumbing, whatever). Many HO policies will not pay a dime for unpermitted work. Worse yet, say you do unpermitted electrical work in your basement and it causes (or could be alleged to have caused) a fire that burns your house down. Some HO policies could deny any coverage.

Yes, getting a permit can be a hassle (or it can be a piece of cake). Not getting a permit is an gamble - yeah you might save a few hundred bucks today that could cost you tens of thousands tomorrow.

For some reason people perceive the permitting process as some sort of horrible gauntlet. I called my local office regarding an electrical permit before I ever wanted to apply for it. I talked to the inspector, asked him what were the most common reasons for inspection failure. After talking to him I discovered that it was going to cost me less than I thought and I only need to show a minimum level of competent work to get the required permit.

These are well trod arguments. Search 'permit' on the forum. Read what everyone says.

The empty, but Karmically correct argument: getting a permit is required by law.

You wouldn't want people to drive without a license, right? Even though they probably won't get caught and probably won't hurt anyone. Probably, this is called sarcasm.
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Last edited by Leah Frances; 03-14-2008 at 11:02 PM. Reason: to add RANT caveat
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Old 03-15-2008, 10:01 AM   #6
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Most of the time I'll start the project and then once I know what I'm into, I'll get the permit. The purpose from my building department is so that they know you did the research in building materials and like atlantic said, you're not endangering yourself or the homeowner.
I'm pulling out some supporting walls in my house and when I went to the building office to show them what I was doing and get a permit, I was shot down. Then needed to know what materials I was planning on using.
For a basement, from the sample of people that I work with, nobody pulled a permit. FWIW, many contractors don't pull permits either, but the homeowner should insist on seeing proof that the work is permitted.
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Old 03-15-2008, 10:58 AM   #7
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.... FWIW, many contractors don't pull permits either,....
Where you are (in MA), a contractor, has to be a Licensed GC (CS#), They also have to possess a H.I.C. Registration # (Home Improvement Contractor registration with the state), in order to even be able to pull a permit. Additionally, if they are more than a sole proprietorship (sp), or LLC with distinct owners, they have to provide proof of current Workmans Comp insurance coverage.

If a contractor has the HIC registration, but no CS license, etc. they still can't pull a permit.

The "contractors" that you may think are not "choosing" to pull permits, the majority of the time, are doing so because they CANNOT pull a permit because they lack the licensing, registration, no WC, or what ever, to do so. They will not tell the home owner that.

In MA, there are many, many Home Improvement contractors around, alot have the HIC registration, but cannot pull a permit. In the past, many of them have called the HIC Registration number a "license number", when it is not.

Starting July 1, 2008, all that will change in MA. There is a whole new licensing arrangement going into affect.

There will now be specific license category requirements for Siding, roofing, & demolition. So the guys that used to do it thru the Home Owners, using only an HIC registration, will now need licenses, and will be required to pull the permits themselves. After 07/01/08 - They will have to take a test to get their corresponding license.

There currently is a new Building Code book out. Starting 07/01/08 - All construction will be based on the new book. The old book will be obselete. There are many revisions and changes in the new book.

The only thing that will not change is the status of the CS License arrangement.
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Old 03-15-2008, 11:44 AM   #8
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Thanks Atlanitc, that's a good point and the homeowner should always insist on proof of permit.
Does the permit guarantee against shoddy work, or just unsafe work?
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Old 03-15-2008, 01:14 PM   #9
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Does the permit guarantee against shoddy work, or just unsafe work?

BOTH to a large degree.

It's not impossible to do shoddy work that meets code, but it is your best layer of protection as a home owner.

If you hire a contractor it helps to keep you from getting "ripped-off". If you are a DIY'er it protects you from yourself. If a contractor, lumber yard employee, friend or relative, ever tells you you don't need a permit, you deserve what you get if you don't check for yourself.

where i live you need a permit to replace your hot water heater, even if it's with the exact same brand, size and model.

wanna put up a shed or Gazebo in your back yard, you need to pull a permit in a lot of towns

It sounds like another case of big brother putting his hand in your pocket, and maybe in some cases it is, but at worst it usually saves you from wasting time and money using the wrong materials, and at best it could save the lives of you and your family.
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Old 03-15-2008, 06:44 PM   #10
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It sounds like another case of big brother putting his hand in your pocket, and maybe in some cases it is, but at worst it usually saves you from wasting time and money using the wrong materials, and at best it could save the lives of you and your family.
Absolutely, a good example is a siding permit. I got the permit and asked at what point do you want to inspect. The response was, just tell us when your done. That was an expensive permit too.
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Old 03-15-2008, 07:22 PM   #11
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Absolutely, a good example is a siding permit. I got the permit and asked at what point do you want to inspect. The response was, just tell us when your done. That was an expensive permit too.
Your town may charge alot for a siding permit. But I think that siding installations, especially by DIYers, should be inspected.

I believe you live in Medford. I lived there for a period of time. There are many triple deckers and multi family units that have suffered from the "un-skilled" labor-pool.

Over the years, many old-school (or old world) Owners have: Hired hacks to work on their homes, worked on it themselves, or allowed family members to "do their thing" to the house.

The reason being, because, EVERYTHING attached on the outside side of the house has to come off, when putting new siding on. That means electrical utility lines, as well as other fixtures, electrical connection conduits, etc, need to be properly and safely re-attached.

All openings and holes need to be properly weathersealed. All siding must be properly "layered" to allow for proper drainage. All removed gutters, downspout sections, and connectors must be re-attached to function properly, and not get taken off by a storm, etc.

There is alot that can end up getting "mickey-moused".

For example: We always use stainless steel screws for re-attaching any lines, pipes, electrical feed cables, etc, and we make sure that any re-attached bracket screws penetrate thru to the framing (not just into the new siding).
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Old 03-15-2008, 10:10 PM   #12
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I think we're on the same page.
I agree, except, I think, all work regardless of who does it should be inspected. Not all pros are created equal. I watched a roofer do a roof on new construction in my neighborhood without using ice and water shield on the overhangs. The same house, the builders didn't use a membrane around the openings. They're relying only on the Tyvek wrap. Maybe these items aren't code, just good building practice, I don't know.
I consider myself a fairly decent DIYer but if I don't build something correctly, I'll back up and do it again.
In Medford, I think the building office just makes sure you have a good plan before you start and if you're touching structural they want to make sure that the building materials have been spec'ed properly. For siding, the only thing they verified is that there was a permit on file for the meter.
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Old 03-16-2008, 08:16 AM   #13
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anything other'n the local govt got its beak wet,,, well, you'll probably see an inspector show up &, when complet'd to his satisfaction, you'll get the job sign'd off,,, but, like unions, for the most part, permitting is only placing the govt's stamp on MINIMUM rqmts,,, many contractors exceed expectations thereby reinforcing their reputations for good work - that's why they're often committ'd far in advance of their work AND can command higher $$$ for jobs ( they pay their bills & also have insurance - lots of it ! ! ! )
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:07 PM   #14
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...Not all pros are created equal. I watched a roofer do a roof on new construction in my neighborhood without using ice and water shield on the overhangs...Maybe these items aren't code, just good building practice, I don't know....
Yes the membrane is required by code, on all eave locations, to extend 24" in, beyond the exterior wall

I would not call the guy who did that a "pro." Yes, he did the roof, but that does not qualify him as a "professional Roofing Contractor".

"Now-a-days....there are many inexperienced hacks getting their hands into anything they can attempt to "low-ball-bid" on (Craigs List is populated by "many" of them - I am not saying everyone on there are hacks). And foolishly, many home owners are only looking at the "dollar cost", rather than the "dollar value"....of the low bid.

95% of the time, the Home owner's desire to spend "little", gets the "cheap work" that they agreed to, because they did not consider the "value" of a quality job.
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Old 03-23-2008, 10:34 PM   #15
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Permits are a great safeguard to make sure you are doing things to code and that the contractor is being honest. It's not worth the small savings to go without it.

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