How to Get a Building Permit
Cover yourself legally by having the necessary building permits
By Kaye Morris
Many homeowners make improvements to their homes without getting a building permit from their local municipality. If that municipality discovers such improvements, it may assess a fine, halt the work or make you restore the home to its original condition. Be sure to apply for a permit well in advance of when you want to begin work. It often takes some time to get a permit.
- What You Need to Know
- Before applying for your permit, acquaint yourself with the permit process in your community and the building codes that apply to your project.
- Most likely, there will be a fee for the issuance of your permit and there may be additional requirements.
- If you are using a contractor for the entire project, let him acquire the permit. If you are using a contractor for part of the improvement, ask the contractor to provide the necessary information for the application and any paperwork required by the agency.
Determine the local agency that issues building permits for your jurisdiction. Many have a building inspections division that handles building permits. Make a note of the business hours for that office. If your community does not have an independent housing authority, check with the zoning board or the branch of local government that oversees professional licensing.
Visit the office that handles permits and pick up an application, or if available, print one from the municipality's Web site. Municipalities sometimes have different applications depending on the type of work you are doing (electrical, plumbing, mechanical and structural). Make sure you get the correct application.
Fill out the application. You may need to include architectural plans and drawings, a list of material to be used, and copies of the contractor's license and insurance. Make sure the paperwork is exactly as the agency requires and check the application to see how many copies are required.
Submit the application, the necessary paperwork and a check for the permit to the local agency. In some cases, you may need to list the contractors and subcontractors that will be doing the work, if any. Some communities do not allow homeowners to complete their own projects while others are more lenient.
Record the professional licensing numbers of any subcontractors, along with their contact information on the permit. Your permit may be approved quicker if the housing authority is able to easily verify your information.
Ensure that your project will comply with zoning standards by providing a land survey if you plan to build or erect a fence near your property line. Especially in older neighborhoods, property lines can become blurred and you may be required to establish the actual border before your permit is approved.
About the Author
Kaye Morris has 20 years of real estate development experience and is a regular contributor to DexKnows.
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