You might need to secure a building permit before attempting any major renovation project that involves removing, or adding new wall space.
You may be thinking to yourself, “Why on earth would I need a permit to tear out one little wall?
It’s my property, I can do what I want with it as long as it’s within reason!”.
Well, not exactly.
The reason, bureaucratic though it is, is to ensure that the typical home owner does not damage the integrity of the structure to a point where it may become dangerous to the current occupants, or owner at a point in time in the future.
The thought is that your average person could not tell you a load-bearing (critical weight bearing support walls) wall from a non load-bearing wall. If you were to remove a load-bearing wall, you would obviously begin to weaken support of the house at weight-bearing junctures resulting in potentially dangerous framing support problems with the house.
While many people see this as an inconvenience and an unnecessary expense, the reality is that the inspections that result from obtaining a permit, is to make sure you (the the guy or gal doing the job) simply do the things as required by your local building codes. It’s fair and valid, and when the work is done correctly, the process should go smoothly with little, if any, interruption.
It’s especially suggested for people wanting to flip houses in that you can honestly say to the prospective home owner that you did the remodeling according to industry building standards, and therefore the way it should be done, and not just pieced together like a band-aid.
How To Get A Permit
Let’s say, for example, you live in an average city in Somewhere, USA, and you just purchased a house to remodel and flip. You’ve done your homework and know that you’re going to have to basically do a whole-house renovation project that will certainly require you to tear out walls and install new framing, update the electric, and add some new plumbing.
Before you start your demolition though, you should always check with your city’s (small or large) permit bureau and make sure that what you’re doing is O.K. to do in the first place. You can look in the local Yellow Pages for a number, the local Builder’s Association, or simply do a Google search for the term “building permit” for your town. The results should come back right away. Some helpful things to discuss with permit officer should include:
- If you’re not removing or demolishing any walls, you will probably not have to get a building permit. Be sure, however, to tell them exactly what your intentions are regarding any remodel ideas you have in mind.
- It’s not just framing, but electric and plumbing that you need to be concerned with as well.
- You’ll probably be required to bring along any drawings (plans) of your intended remodel to the meeting with officer. Be sure to ask him/her this prior to your meeting.
Simply tell them what you’re planning on doing, and they’ll take it from there.
Do yourself a favor and secure a building permit. It’s not a big deal, and is relatively inexpensive. If you don’t get a permit, and get caught doing something you’re not supposed to do, you will get a Stop Work! order slapped on your house immediately, and may be subject to possible fines as well. You will not be allowed to proceed with your remodel until you do, in fact, get a permit.
Once you go through the permitting procedure, you’ll see that there’s nothing really to it, and that it is actually a good thing.