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Old 04-12-2010, 12:11 PM   #1
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Building Permit Question


Hello,

We're looking to convert a detached one-car garage to a woodworking workshop, which will include insulation, replacing the garage door with an entry door, flooring, and electrical subpanel. We have a friend who is very skilled in this type of work and can help us along the way--a big plus. However, he recommends that we don't pull a permit. His argument is that they may require that the entire house--eighty years old with upgraded 100amp service and wiring--be brought up to code as needed. So, instead of the inspector guiding us and approving our work on the garage there would be a potential for very costly work on the house itself.

Does this make sense?

We moved into the house last summer and had a home inspection, and the inspector didn't find any electrical issues with the home, nor have we experienced any.

Advice very much appreciated. Thank you.

Chuck

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Old 04-12-2010, 02:18 PM   #2
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I think you know the answer to that; he's full of it.

Get the permit.

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Old 04-12-2010, 02:36 PM   #3
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Building Permit Question


I'm not really asking "should I get a permit?" I already know that answer to that question--it's the right and smart thing to do, even though many feel they should skip this step.

My question is whether I'm likely to be required to bring my house up to code if I want to do electrical improvements. The upgrade would involve running a 240V circuit from our current service panel to the garage--otherwise the existing electrical will not be touched. There have many many electrical improvements done to the house by the previous owners, and I don't know if these were done under permit or not.

Thanks.

Chuck
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Old 04-12-2010, 02:54 PM   #4
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Building Permit Question


Most places only what you are working on needs to meet code
So if you renovate the kitchen the kitchen now has to meet current code
etc etc

If you are only renovating the garage then usually only that needs to meet current codes
I had my main service & panel replaced, only that was inspected & had to meet code

They may require you do a whole house electric calculation to show that your current service will provide the power you need
If this will be a one man shop with only one tool running then you are probably Ok
If you have central air, electric heat, stove dryer water heater & want to add a lot of electric in the shop then you may have an issue
If you don't pull a permit they can make you rip it all apart
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Old 04-12-2010, 03:06 PM   #5
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Slim, Welcome to the Forum

I would first call the Building Department and first ask them if such a conversion is legal. I live in So CA, so the local regs say no conversions.

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Old 04-12-2010, 07:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MudslideSlim View Post
I'm not really asking "should I get a permit?" I already know that answer to that question--it's the right and smart thing to do, even though many feel they should skip this step.

My question is whether I'm likely to be required to bring my house up to code if I want to do electrical improvements. The upgrade would involve running a 240V circuit from our current service panel to the garage--otherwise the existing electrical will not be touched. There have many many electrical improvements done to the house by the previous owners, and I don't know if these were done under permit or not.

Thanks.

Chuck
I had hoped you knew the answer to that question, indeed you do, but the answer will give you much more than the satisfaction of proving me right...we see this in some of the work we do.

If we see something "fishy" in one area, then we often find out there's something fishy somewhere else too. Sometimes we are asked to do a specific job, let's say it's plumbing and we notice there are code violations..OK, a DIY job, no big deal we can fix it, but that right away puts us on the alert for other code violations elsewhere.

Now we are not home inspectors - but I am of the opinion that any professional who sees something wrong and does nothing about it, is liable for any mishap that occurs as a result. However I know enough about inpections that ANY irregularity should be pointed out, if not acted upon.

So your inspector comes in, see's most things are OK - but there's a major fault at the panel. I am 99% positive that he would say - if not do -something - for your own safety. That's the type of inspection I want...

What's the alternative? ignore it?

You've got that answer too.
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Old 04-12-2010, 07:12 PM   #7
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My experience with building inspectors is that by and large they stick to the project in question, i.e. when I put in a wood stove, they checked the clearance etc., but did not ask not concern themselves with electrical, plumbing, framing etc. This is pretty typical so far as I know.

I believe it would be highly unusual for an inspector to take it upon themselves to perform a whole house inspection for the purpose of pointing out current code violations. Not to say it can't happen, but it must be pretty rare, as I have never met anyone who had it happen. Except in the case where someone decided to perform major surgery on their house, i.e. add a room, without pulling a permit. That is likely to irritate the building inspector, especially if they are alerted to the problem by a neighbor. The last thing you want to do is to get on the wrong side of the building inspector.

So I agree with the advice that you should first consult the inspector, tell them what you plan to do, get the appropriate building permit form, fill it out and file it. In your case, the only thing the inspector is likely to look at is the garage and the panel in the basement. Doing a major conversion like you discuss without a permit is asking for serious trouble.
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Old 04-12-2010, 08:01 PM   #8
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Be sure to notify your Home-owners Insurance carrier as they will find out later if ever a claim and have a paper trail from you on here as well as the County records........

Who in your household don't you value enough to meet the required MINIMUM safety building code?

I wouldn't buy anything from your friend........ as you could end up trusting him with your life. Who is liable?

Be safe, Gary
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Old 04-12-2010, 08:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaliBob View Post
Slim, Welcome to the Forum

I would first call the Building Department and first ask them if such a conversion is legal. I live in So CA, so the local regs say no conversions.
.
I am also in California - and finshed my attached 2-car garage into a workshop / hobby room - finsihed walls, new circuits, can lights in the ceiling, insulation, dedicated HVAC - cutting tables, shelving and sewing machine area for my wife - work bench and table for ham radio stuff for me.

All was permitted and inspected, etc. The thing I had to do is leave the garage door and potential to park a vehicle in there, else it would have been a no-go.

And no, I did not have to bring anything else in the house up to current code - only things inspected was work/changes to the garage.


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