New Additions: The Importance of Permits When Improving Your Home

The prospect of building an addition onto your home is an exciting one. Whether you’re dreaming of an extra bedroom, a screened-in porch or an extension of your living room, additions can provide much-needed space to a home you already love. Before you begin daydreaming of how you’ll decorate your new addition, though, it’s important to first consider the steps required for having certified work completed on your home. While it’s tempting to take a DIY approach and forgo the traditional permitting process, homeowners should think twice before proceeding. The headaches that often accompany such shortcuts aren’t worth it the risk.

Should you try to sell your home in the future, unpermitted work can come back to haunt you. Homebuyers want to invest in properties with certified work, not DIY renovations. While you might not have a problem living in a home with unpermitted additions, future homebuyers may experience serious anxiety at the thought of potentially unsafe building techniques. Getting property permits is the best way to ensure peace of mind for yourself and any future buyers.

Permit Problems

The high cost of home additions and improvements can be difficult to stomach. That’s why so many homeowners opt not to begin the permit process. Expensive and time-consuming, pulling permits adds serious time and money to the life cycle of a home addition. Homeowners hoping to save a buck sometimes choose not to pull permits for the job, instead of employing a friend or taking a DIY approach to the project.

There are also property taxes to consider. When you build an addition onto your home, property taxes will inevitably increase. Many homeowners seek to avoid the extra taxation that comes with renovation work. While this strategy may work in the short-term, it becomes seriously problematic when it comes time to sell the home. Mortgage lenders send appraisers out to the home as part of the due diligence process. When appraisers make note of the renovation or addition on official record, taxes will increase accordingly. This means passing the brunt of the new property taxes onto the buyer – something no new homeowner wants to hear. Unpermitted work may even cause the sale of a home to be canceled entirely.

Better Safe Than Sorry 

Even if you don’t have plans to sell your home anytime soon, it’s worth getting permits for the work you do on your home. Almost all properties change hands eventually, and buyers will be hesitant to make an offer on a home with unpermitted additions. A lack of permits could spell increased property taxes, quality issues and even safety concerns.

Buyers want to move into homes they feel confident and safe about. It’s reasonable to feel uneasy about work completed by a novice. The permit process helps ensure that home improvements are done by professionals. With a permit in place, homebuyers can rest easy knowing building rules and regulations were abided by with fidelity. This will make the entire selling process easier on you, too.

Pulling Permits: Easier Than You Might Expect

While there are certainly horror stories out there about instances of lengthy, expensive permitting, you might be surprised at how easy it is to do yourself. Cities want homeowners to do things by the books, so many local governments have simplified the process of pulling permits. In most cases, you’ll need the city inspector to examine and approve the work you’ve done. Next, you’ll pay for the permit.

There may be separate permits required for electrical and plumbing work done on the space. Prepare for a general inspection fee along with additional costs for the electrical or plumbing permits. Homeowners can expect these fees to run about two percent of the total cost of the project. If you factor this cost into the overall expense of the addition from the beginning of the project, you’ll find the price of permits a little easier to take on.

Best Permitting Practices 

Every home renovation and addition job is different. There’s no way to know for sure if you’ll even need to pull permits for your project. The best way to check? Call your local building department and ask for guidance. The building inspector will be able to give you all the insight you need.

After you’ve finished work on your home, remember to close the permit you pulled. To do so, you’ll need to have a final inspection of the completed project and get a certificate of occupancy. These will be instrumental to the successful sale of your home one day.

Whether you opt to hire professionals or try your hand at home renovations yourself, it’s always worth the time and money required to pull permits. By prioritizing quality building practices and by-the-books permitting, you’ll make the home improvement process a breeze. When it comes time to sell your home, you’ll be glad you followed the procedure.

Training for Home Inspectors

Before you dive head first into a home renovation project, it helps to brush up on the fundamentals. Whether you’re a homeowner hoping to learn more about your property or an aspiring home inspector, ICA’s flexible online training course is a must. Convenient, affordable and self-paced, it’s a no brainer for anyone eager to educate themselves about home construction, systems, and defects.

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