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Old 11-30-2019, 02:05 PM   #1
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Value of permits?


I'm trying to understand where the value of permits is when I do changes to the house. And also trying not to shoot myself in the foot for not getting one, that will come back to bite me later.

I live in Southern California, for what that's worth - they'd probably like me to get a permit for switching the vacuum from one receptacle to another if they could :-)

I had a roof re-do about two years ago, and permitting was just part of what they included in it, but I'm not sure the city inspector did much checking. Seemed more like a paperwork thing.

I had another major (for me) project earlier this year to replace/move A/C, replace/move furnace to garage, replace/move water heater to tankless a few feet away to make room for the furnace move.
I was talked out of permitting on this one - they did a great job I think, but said the permitting process added cost and no real benefits (my interpretation.)

But now I'm looking to make use of that space in the house where the furnace was, and would like to widen the entry way a bit with a door side panel, which will start to get more structural. And I think it might be good to get a permit for that. Will the city inspector then start questioning the move of the furnace, and why it wasn't permitted?

I'm also going room by room to tear out walls and flooring, and adding electrical where I want it (some new circuits in some cases), and maybe changing window size/shape/design. It sounds like the city wants permits with before/after and approval.
And while they want permits for the drywall work if the whole room is done, that doesn't seem to be too much of a goal - I think it's mainly because this room is adjacent to a garage, so the fire-rated drywall is wanted there.

The owner before me had a subpanel added to the garage to run a 240 up and over through the attic to a jacuzzi in the back. It never occurred to me to ask if that was permitted when I bought the house.

And in all my (albeit very limited :-)) house purchases and understanding, I've only heard of permitting being a thing when it came to room additions - something that increased the square footage.

I'd like to think the inspector was also giving me the nod, and second opinion, that all was done right. But seeing the roof inspector not go up on the roof, and not really check things out much, that kind of went out the window (sorry for the corny pun) on the value of a permit.

I'm thinking now... anything I do within my house - electrical, windows, etc... - as long as it's to code, don't worry about permits.
If what I do increases square footage of house - room addition mainly - get it all permitted.

But then I start thinking of insurance... ouch :-)
If I have electrical changes done (new circuit and receptacle), and I didn't get a permit for that, and those changes are the reason for a fire, will the insurance company use that as a reason to not cover it?
And if the fire carries over to the house next door, and my insurance doesn't cover it because the cause was found to be a circuit I had added, but wasn't done with a permit, and a person dies in that fire, am I then liable for that in a civil suit now that the electrical guy I had do the work is no longer a business?
But if I got a permit on those changes, would that change things?

Any/all good/bad experiences where getting something permitted, or not, are appreciated.
And if you have an understanding of how it applies on the legal/insurance side, I'd appreciate hearing, but also understand it's not legal advice.
Just looking for a better understanding on it all when it comes to what to go through the permit process, and what's overkill.
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Old 11-30-2019, 02:32 PM   #2
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Re: Value of permits?


I would search your local Land Use Office on line.

They should have a section on what requires a permit.

For instance:

In my neck of the woods a permit is not needed for a re-roof if less then 3 sheets of plywood is replaced.
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Old 11-30-2019, 02:35 PM   #3
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Re: Value of permits?


I think you have already figured out that the safe way is to get a permit for every thing you do. When you have a contractor that will work with out a permit, you are thinking you are saving the price and hassle of permits and inspection but who is to say the contractor did everything to code. Even honest contractors make mistakes.

I learned the hard way that stairs in a commercial building have a lower riser than residential.

When you moved the furnace did you build a furnace room with an exterior door so it is sealed from the garage when the door is closed?
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Old 11-30-2019, 02:36 PM   #4
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Re: Value of permits?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ron45 View Post
I would search your local Land Use Office on line.

They should have a section on what requires a permit.

For instance:

In my neck of the woods a permit is not needed for a re-roof if less then 3 sheets of plywood is replaced.
I have never seen an inspection of roofing even on a new house.
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Old 11-30-2019, 02:44 PM   #5
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Re: Value of permits?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nealtw View Post
I have never seen an inspection of roofing even on a new house.
I don't know what to tell ya.

For drywall, we need to get a permit if 3 or more walls are demoed.
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Old 11-30-2019, 03:02 PM   #6
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Re: Value of permits?


Exact rules for reroofing vary by jurisdiction within California. Also, not every jurisdiction posts the inspection requirements. But just to give you an idea what you can run into, here are the Santa Cruz County Requirements.
https://www.sccoplanning.com/Plannin...rocedures.aspx
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Old 11-30-2019, 03:17 PM   #7
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Re: Value of permits?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nealtw View Post
When you moved the furnace did you build a furnace room with an exterior door so it is sealed from the garage when the door is closed?
I'm not sure I understand what you're asking.

I went from the two befores to the after...
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Value of permits?-alldone2.jpg   Value of permits?-before-furnace.jpg   Value of permits?-before-waterheater.jpg  
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Old 11-30-2019, 03:23 PM   #8
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Re: Value of permits?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ron45 View Post
I would search your local Land Use Office on line.

They should have a section on what requires a permit.

For instance:

In my neck of the woods a permit is not needed for a re-roof if less then 3 sheets of plywood is replaced.
How would you know before your did the tear off?

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Old 11-30-2019, 04:01 PM   #9
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Re: Value of permits?


Quote:
Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
I'm not sure I understand what you're asking.

I went from the two befores to the after...
What we do here for code, see the double exterior fire rated doors in the corner.

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Old 11-30-2019, 07:05 PM   #10
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Re: Value of permits?


Where I am, just because you are required to have a permit for something doesn’t mean that you need to have an inspection of same. The permit process funds the building dept, inspectors, etc......and gets an “improvement” to your home in the tax book.

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Old 11-30-2019, 10:11 PM   #11
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Re: Value of permits?


Our state law requires a permit for work that is structural, affects egress, plumbing and electrical modifications or extensions, roofing, building or relocating a structure, work involving fire protection equipment, and installing heating equipment. Local municipalities do enforcement. Some are good, some are bad, some are smart and helpful, some are stupid and annoying, some work hard, some are lazy.
I did code enforcement for our county for 10 years in a previous life. I used to joke with people that it was my job to put as many obstacles as possible in their path. In reality, I looked at myself as a public servant whose job was to assist people in meeting minimum standards prescribed in the code. That approach made it fun and I made a lot of friends, while ensuring that the code was met.
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Old 12-01-2019, 02:32 PM   #12
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Re: Value of permits?


Quote:
Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
How would you know before your did the tear off?

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I'm not trying to be ignorant.

You inspect the roof.

Then you rely on experience.

Most of the time the problems will show themselves, like a really spongy spot when you step on it.

Sometimes the roofs where done using 3/8 plywood. That's a no-go.
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Old 12-01-2019, 05:48 PM   #13
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Re: Value of permits?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nealtw View Post
I have never seen an inspection of roofing even on a new house.
Same here in MD.

Meaning permits & inspections for roof work.
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Last edited by finisher65; 12-01-2019 at 05:51 PM.
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Old 12-01-2019, 06:38 PM   #14
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Re: Value of permits?


I recommend permits, sold a house recently and the buyers requested copies of permits for a kitchen remodel that I did myself as the home owner. I had The permits and was able to provide them and keep the sale on track. I get permits for most of the work I do and have never had an issue with an inspector, for me it is worth the money for the piece of mind. YMMV
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Old 12-01-2019, 07:10 PM   #15
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Re: Value of permits?


I believe permits can have significant value in the sale process.

Some buyers/realtors will check to see if various permits were pulled, and it can be comforting to a buyer that ad-hoc DIY work was not done.

Also, if you are not knowledgeable about the work being done, it can be a good value to have the third party inspector on board.

But let's face it, alot of work is done without permits and some permitting requirements are sometimes pretty petty.....changing kitchen cabinets...????

I hear of a lot of concern over insurance companies denying insurance on unpermitted work....I hear about it on here....but I've never heard of an actual experience by anyone.
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