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Why Do You Need a Permit?

Many people see building permits as a bureaucratic step standing between them and their dream home.  In reality, it’s an important piece of the overall building process that protects all parties involved for the foreseeable future.  So, before you complain about this task at your local permitting office, consider the practicality behind the process.

  1. It keeps your home safe.

Ultimately, a permit is only required for major projects that could endanger the safety and security of your household.  If you want to lay a hardwood floor this weekend, then go ahead!  No permit required.  But, if you—or you contractor—want to start demolishing walls and/or expanding your layout, then you’ll want to secure your permit first.

It also deters people from trying to save money during their home improvements by cutting corners.  Building codes aren’t merely there to inconvenience you, but rather to uphold safe practices.  By providing building plans ahead of time and having inspections along the way, you can avoid mishaps that would otherwise be hidden within walls.

  1. It protects your liability.

Whether you’re the contractor or the homeowner, a permit provides an extra layer of protection.  The last thing you want to worry about when you deck deteriorates or your electrical work short circuits is a potential lawsuit.  Unfortunately, if you didn’t obtain a permit prior to doing the work, your insurance company can refuse to honor the policy.  Moreover, if anyone was injured as a result of this problem, you’ll shoulder the brunt of the legal liability for their bills.

  1. It protects your investment.

Now, there are the obvious costs upfront for failing to obtain a permit in due time, such as being fined or forced to tear out the work and then pay someone to do it again (properly).  However, there are also long term costs associated with this omission.  When/if you try to resell your house, this will likely be uncovered during the inspection process—ultimately hurting the value of your property, if not undermining the sale altogether.


Most remodeling projects begin with the intention of enhancing the overall value and convenience of your home.  Why potentially undercut that by trying to circumvent one of the first steps in the process?  The cost of the permit is realistically a minimal fee to pay for protection that covers so many areas of home ownership.  Not to mention, the hypothetical price of not getting one vastly outweighs the upfront charge.