How to Obtain a Building Permit

As a builder and remodeling contractor for over 20 years, I have dealt with hundreds of customers and potential customers. I view every person who contacts me as a potential customer and I have found that almost every single one asks the same question “Do I need a Building Permit”?

Although the below list is not nearly exhaustive, it does list a few reasons why it is a good idea as well as a requirement to obtain a building permit.

Obtaining a permit guarantees that the work completed will be inspected. If you contact a contractor and they suggest that a permit is not needed, it would be wise to question the experience and quality of that company, after all if the work is completed properly there is nothing to be afraid of when the inspector comes around.

A quality contractor will carry insurance as well as the proper Home Improvement license, this insurance and license is in place to protect you the home owner. The inspector has insurance also, if the inspector passes off on a shoddy electrical job and the building catches fire, the ultimate responsible party is the inspection agency. This is why the inspection agency’s are required to carry such high limits

Obtaining a permit places the responsibility for a safety code review on the inspection agency. One of the things a inspection agency looks for are safety issues like smoke detectors, enough outlets to eliminate the use of extension cords, windows that are fire resistant when located within a certain distance of a fire escape.. Manual J … The list goes on and on.

Did you know that even main bearing beams in the attic of a brick house are required to be cut with a certain profile on the end? This allows the beam to fall inward and downward in case of a fire instead of the end kicking out and pushing down the brick wall.

Most cities have a code that only allow three layers of roofing material on a house. If the third layer has passed it’s lifetime and you need a new roof, adding a fourth layer seems like it would save money, but the code says they all must be removed. If the roof collapses after a snow because of the added weight of the fourth layer……… suddenly that savings of a few hundred dollars doesn’t seem like all that much.

The same is true of deck posts. Code in eastern Pa, requires the footing of a deck post to be 36 inches below the surface. If you don’t get a permit, you won’t get an inspection and your contractor might take the easy way out and only go two feet deep while you are away. Come winter and in the middle of a deep freeze, frozen soil doesn’t stop for anything and before you know it the deck has lifted a few inches. In a matter of a few seasons it will start to fall apart as well as your grill rolling down the slope of your new deck.

Protect yourself and your investment by hiring an approved, licensed and insured builder and contractor.

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