The Importance of the Building Permit
Almost any renovation, whether interior or exterior, will usually require a building permit in your municipality. Two major exceptions to this would include re-shingling a roof, as well as any house painting project. Both of these types of improvements would not usually require a permit.
To paraphrase from “Oklahoma!,” the building inspector and the investor should be friends. A common misconception seems to be that building inspectors (from any locale) love to deny permits or will give the property investor a hard time.
It makes for a nice myth though.
When you consider that the building department of any town is there for the overall protection of the community, and it is ultimately responsible for the overall safety of dwellings and therefore individuals who live in that community, the building inspector can be looked on in quite a different light.
Safety and savings
Besides safety, they can actually end up saving the investor money in the long run as well. If, for example, your contractor is cutting corners on a particular project without you knowing, be it in time or expense, the building inspector can usually spot it – and will make sure the job is done correctly according to local building code standards.
Many building departments made their building codes more stringent about twenty years ago, to reflect increasing pressure for town safety. The departments are charges with two main duties: to make the community safer for all, and to make sure that house renovations are performed correctly, whether done by a contractor or the house owner themselves.
As an example of their combined commitment to code enforcement and also being there for the property investor, building inspectors may, for example, point out when a house owner is trying to install a sheet rock ceiling themselves incorrectly. Upon close inspection, they will offer the “tip” that the sheet rock requires more screws lined up closer together to make sure there will be no future sags or warping in the ceiling.
Of course that advice was taken, and more screws were added, and the job was made much safer prior to the investor obtaining his Certificate of Occupancy (usually called the C/O) for the completed work.
Without the inspection, the property investor could have been facing a potentially dangerous situation somewhere down the road.
Building Permit fees
In general, the estimate of the cost of construction will determine the building permit fee that’s set by the building department. These fees tend to be reasonable, running (on average) about 1% of the total estimated project cost.
Develop a relationship
As a property investor, it’s always a good idea to get to know and develop a relationship with your local building inspector. You’ll find they can be quite supportive and helpful. Ultimately, they can become great advice-givers on potential projects in your town, helping you decide if a given project is even worth your investment dollars.
photos courtesy of thetimes-tribune.com, danvillevt.com, sheetsdesignbuild.com, alwaltershomeinspection.com