Home improvements done properly and according to building code can improve both the value of your home as well as your enjoyment of it. But if it's done wrong, it can mean trouble and unnecessary expense. Hiring unlicensed contractors (or worse, doing it yourself) for areas that require licensed contractors is one source of problems. Another is not obtaining a building permit where required.
Problems From Not Pulling a Building Permit When RemodelingGetting a building permit is more than just an extra expense. A building permit will require an inspection of the work, which is your assurance that it has been done properly. Many types of home improvement projects require a building permit, especially any that require an inspection. Of course, a homeowner might not be aware of when a permit is needed, so if you're doing the work yourself it's important to contact your local building inspector or municipality building department. Licensed contractors are required to stay current on building codes and permit requirements, so your contractor should know whether your project will require a permit and should obtain it for you. Not all contractors have valid licenses; this can come back to bite you later on. Not only can you get city fines for not having the work done correctly, but your homeowner's insurance policy probably is not going to pay for any damages in connection with work performed by unlicensed contractors or not according to building code.
Performing certain home improvements yourself or hiring someone else that is not properly licensed means you could be wasting a lot of time and effort, not to mention money. Unlicensed contractors performing work such as plumbing or electrical that require a license - as well as residential building contractors - can be fined. And if the work isn't done according to building code, you could be forced to have the work re-done at your own expense. And building contractors aren't the only ones subject to fines - homeowners who do work themselves without obtaining a permit can also be subject to penalties.
Additional Information Regarding PermitsWhile there are certain specific requirements for building permits, in general:
- You are not able to build onto or significantly alter or add to a large space to your home (that usually includes a deck) until you have a permit issued. If you're unsure of whether or not you need one, speaking to the local building office can give you a better idea, since they are the ones that have to give the permits. If you're working with a professional, they make sure to get the necessary permits for you most of the time.
- If you are working on a small project in the home, it might just be an extra $100 to do so. For those that are requiring a new addition or other types of larger projects, you're looking at around $1000 to do it.
- If the contractor asks you to pull the required permits, you might be working with an unlicensed one. A reputable, licensed MN residential building contractor should pull the permit for you. If your contractor is asking you to do it, this should be a red flag. Have you verified the contractor's license and insurance? You want to ensure that they have the required license, permits and of course, insurance before moving ahead with them. Anything that seems suspicious should probably be looked into before work is begun.
- Make sure that you get a copy of all the required permits for the project. You should keep them for your records. You might also want to ask for copies of licenses, bonds and anything else that might be important to have, just in case.
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