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Old 07-26-2009, 01:13 PM   #1
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Do I really need permits?


Hey all, I'm Mike.

Sorry if this is a re-post, I searched the forums quickly and couldn't find an answer.

I live in a condo. I remodeled one bathroom, basically ripped out the whole thing and replaced everything very carefully and meticulously paying attention to "doing it right" and to code (although I don't have the "code" memorized).

Then I started reading horror stories about permits and got all paranoid. I want to remodel my second bathroom (replace tub, toilet, sink, floor, fixtures). Do I need to pull permits for all this? In theory, would I need to pull a permit to replace a toilet or fixture? Bathtub? Do people really do this? (I'm sure people are required to answer "yes" while shaking their head "no"). What's the real deal? Of course The County says "YES!" when I asked about replacing a toilet or doing ANYTHING other than essentially painting. That can't be right....

Thanks!

Mike

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Old 07-26-2009, 01:37 PM   #2
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Do I really need permits?


Hi Mike...

Where we are you need permits for moving a plumbing fixture from one place to another but you don't for just replacing a faucet. Same for electrical; need one to place a light in a showerstall but you don't for repalcing the light over the sink. Need one to wire anew cirsuit but not for replacing the light switch. Don't need one to replace the tile floor but do if you wanto enlarge it...etc etc. All has to do with safety.

But that's here; but I'd go as far as to say that where you are, the municipal, county, state or national laws probably are different...and for the purposes of people answering this thread - and as nice it is to know your first name, Mike - it is very likely more important for us to know exactly where you are in the world!

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Old 07-26-2009, 01:43 PM   #3
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Do I really need permits?


If you go to sell the property & the buyer finds out unpermitted improvements were made yopu will find them with a bargaining point as far as the price of sale

Some areas (most?) do technically require a permit for everything - even replacing a light switch or removing/installing a toilet/faucet
But I think the majority of people do not pull permits for such "simple" things
But I've run across my share of switches installed incorrectly

Last edited by Scuba_Dave; 07-26-2009 at 07:28 PM. Reason: sp
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Old 07-26-2009, 02:00 PM   #4
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Do I really need permits?


Thanks for the responses,

I'm in Howard County, Maryland.
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:03 PM   #5
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OK Mike, I'll let the others respond to your questions in re Maryland...and Scuba Dave is probably right. But know what? the law has to make some sense somewhere and pulling a $25 permit to install and 99-cent wall switch doesn't.

So somewhere there has to be limits; in our case up here as I'm sure where you are, permits are important as a second opinion in re major changes to plumbing, electrical, HVAC or structure but people put in new fixtures, new bathtubs, and everything else without; now putting in a new kitchen is something else...that adds value and therefore taxation revenue to your house, therefore permits are required.
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:24 PM   #6
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Do I really need permits?


HI Mike, I'm sure you understand what people mean when they say that rules are different in different parts of the country. Let me share this- -I live in the county in my area, if you walk out my back yard and go through the gate in my fence into the back-yard neighbors yard, you will then be in the City Limits. There has to be a line somewhere. Now, if I want to do improvements to my house, I can do just about anything that I want to-except HVAC work, by county ordinance--and without pulling a permit. If my backyard neighbor wants to do the same exact work on his house, he has to go downtown with some type of written plans to be filed and get permits for each trade of work, again no HVAC work can be done. The HVAC people got this tied up some years ago, our local Lowe's and Home Depot cannot sell very much HVAC type material at all. It's a crazy world out there at times, but we have to live with the rules. David
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Old 07-26-2009, 09:23 PM   #7
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Do I really need permits?


Quote:
Originally Posted by mirzai_m View Post
Thanks for the responses,

I'm in Howard County, Maryland.
Im in AA Co MD and Im sure without a dought that you are 'supposed to' get a ppermit for what you are doing.
Now Im not sure what the consequences would be of not doing so, or who it could even be proved years later (if you sell) that you remodeled your bathroom.
I personally would not pay them for a permit if I were doing it myself. O'Mally will just use it to raise your taxes.
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Old 07-26-2009, 11:46 PM   #8
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Do I really need permits?


Here we are not allowed to do plumbing
Down by a friends house someone redid their bathroom without a permit
A friend went to the building Inspector to find out what permits they needed to pull to do their bathroom
Long story short the Inspector made them gut the bathroom & have it redone by a Pro
He found several visual code violations -one being size of the shower - not sure of specifics
But it cost them a lot more in the long run
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Old 07-27-2009, 12:46 AM   #9
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Do I really need permits?


Replacement of plumbing fixtures probably doesn't require a permit as long as you're not reconfiguring the plumbing. As an inspector I don't really know what I'd look for on a faucet replacement or toilet replacement anyhow.

Electrical is another story. So I'll tell you what the code says and peoples' opinions of that are really pointless, because the code is the law (unless specifically and irresponsibly amended by local jurisdictions). The National Electric Code requires a permit for changes of devices, re-wiring, adding fixtures...Generally anything but replacing a light bulb. Same holds true for the International Residential Code. The $.59 switch that you change out and fail to ground or make good connections on may be the one that shocks your kid or creates an arc that burns your house to the ground. There are about a dozen things that you can really screw up and create dangerous situations when changing out light fixtures...Trust me...I look at professional licensed electricians' screw-ups every day, not to mention DIY jobs. I am not exaggerating one bit when I tell you that 1/3 of the electricians whose work I look at is so frequently wrong I can almost write the inspection list just by knowing who did the work.

You're always better off getting permits. Contrary to all the BS that you may hear, the inspector is YOUR advocate and is a pretty inexpensive one at that. Advocate for yourself and have your work checked out...What you may think was done right may in fact be incorrect and unsafe. When you stop looking at the inspector as an adversary and start seeing him as an ally you'll begin to reap the benefits of having him on board. The best builders and DIYers appreciate the inspectors and learn from them, and as an inspector I can say that I learn a lot from those builders. The builders that act as my adversary take little from the process and are generally unappreciative, but they're better off even if they don't realize it because they're being forced to build safe projects when they otherwise wouldn't.

In a condo there are firewalls that have very specific requirements for penetrations such as electrical boxes. Doing the work without the knowledge of the fire assembly requirements in your specific residence may jeapordize your unit and adjoining units in the event of a fire. Simple things like the type of electric box you use play a major role in keeping the fire assembly's integrity intact.

Ok, getting off my soap box.
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Old 07-27-2009, 07:29 AM   #10
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Do I really need permits?


There ya go, spoken from the horse's mouth so to speak...as usual, kctermite is right on.

But the thing that disturbs me is the figure given of 1/3rd of electricians work that kctermite inspects wouldn't pass his inspection...so, what does say to the training of electricians? Not much, if safety in one's home is dependent on someone who is wrong 1/3rd of the time, in other words, someone who got 70% on his final exam - and passes the course!

Not very reassuring...heck accountants have to be better than that! and what tells me that the inspectors exam has a better standard? Let's say for a moment that the same ratio of pass/fail applies to everyone, including DIYers...does that mean that an electricians mistake has a good chance of not being detected by neither an inspector nor the HO? Sure does...!

That all speaks to 'standards'; isn't it a bit too easy for a licensed contractor to do shoddy work and not have his license pulled after an inspector finds a mess-up on the job? It's a problem we have up here...try to find a contractor after he has ripped a HO off by providing shoddy workmanship...not easy. The inspectors have little power. Unions have more.

Something to think about IMO.
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Old 07-27-2009, 10:17 AM   #11
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Very good points ccarlisle.

Sad fact is that the work is only going to be as good as the guy doing it. A lot of tradesmen will try to get by without doing things the right way just to save time or a few bucks in parts, despite the fact that they know what the right way is.

Not every electrician out there has a masters license. Often enough, the master electrician has his name on the company and a number of employees doing work for him. That same premise holds true in a number of trades.

I certainly don't have a masters license, just a fair knowledge of the residential code and NEC electrical requirements. The masters license test is a big tough SOB, and anyone that passes it is a pretty sharp dude. It is pretty sad that I spend a lot of my time finding problems with the work of the guys that do, but in my opinion it speaks more to peoples' integrity than a lack of knowledge or education/licensing requirements.
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Old 07-27-2009, 11:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
Very good points ccarlisle.

Sad fact is that the work is only going to be as good as the guy doing it. A lot of tradesmen will try to get by without doing things the right way just to save time or a few bucks in parts, despite the fact that they know what the right way is.

Not every electrician out there has a masters license. Often enough, the master electrician has his name on the company and a number of employees doing work for him. That same premise holds true in a number of trades.

I certainly don't have a masters license, just a fair knowledge of the residential code and NEC electrical requirements. The masters license test is a big tough SOB, and anyone that passes it is a pretty sharp dude. It is pretty sad that I spend a lot of my time finding problems with the work of the guys that do, but in my opinion it speaks more to peoples' integrity than a lack of knowledge or education/licensing requirements.
I agree with you 100% KC. To many guys out there seem to care more about the pay then they do the quality of the work. Unfortunately a lot of people who hire these guys are more concerned with getting the cheapest price then they are with getting good quality work.

Where I'm at they do not require a permit for replacing duplexes, switches, fixtures, or appliances. They also do not require a permit to replace toilets, sinks, faucets, or tubs. This is contingent on not relocating or repairing any any lines or circuits. I would recommend anyone doing projects in their home always check with the building department in their locality to see if a permit is necessary for the proposed project.
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Old 07-27-2009, 02:26 PM   #13
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I would recommend anyone doing projects in their home always check with the building department in their locality to see if a permit is necessary for the proposed project.
Amen brother!
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Old 07-27-2009, 05:43 PM   #14
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Do I really need permits?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ccarlisle View Post
There ya go, spoken from the horse's mouth so to speak...as usual, kctermite is right on.

But the thing that disturbs me is the figure given of 1/3rd of electricians work that kctermite inspects wouldn't pass his inspection...so, what does say to the training of electricians? Not much, if safety in one's home is dependent on someone who is wrong 1/3rd of the time, in other words, someone who got 70% on his final exam - and passes the course!


Something to think about IMO.
maybe its just those KC electricians, to much barbacue ??
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Old 07-27-2009, 06:36 PM   #15
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Do I really need permits?


I agree... inspectors are a DIY'ers friend. I would always welcome them! On a somewhat related tangent.... where does one find out the local building codes / permit requirements? Do local gov'ts generally have them online? If so, what dept generally would post them?

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