Permitting your work is the safe way to do things. Permitting works differently from city to city as different cities have a unique process or building code to use. Contractors should know what kind of work needs permitting, but just with any other trade, there are good contractors who know what they're doing, and there are some that might not be caught up on current procedures. Before you start any work, make sure that you understand what projects will need to be permitted by checking with your municipal building department.
The following are projects that will most likely need permits in your area:
1) Electrical: Electrical work is a very particular skill. Un-permitted work is downright dangerous and can cause serious harm to your home and family. Most electrical changes require permits and inspection, even if it's just moving an outlet.
2) Plumbing: Plumbing is more of a building safety issue than a life safety issue. Bad plumbing can ruin your home, leave sewage backed up, or cause mold damage. Typically, removing existing plumbing or installing new plumbing requires a permit.
3) Structural: Changing a major load bearing system requires permitting because it changes structural load path and load distribution. If you're opening up a new room by installing a load bearing beam on columns, have your contractor build per residential building codes and get it permitted and inspected. This also goes for cutting holes for new windows on exterior walls. If it's a structural change, get it permitted.
4) Additions: If you're changing the configuration by extending out from the current footprint, you'll need a permit. Along with the permit, you'll most likely need architect and engineered drawings for the addition. Additions are expensive because of all the permitting required. Make sure you use a skilled and knowlegable contractor who can help you navigate the bureaucratic systems to get permitted for such a big project.
Although permits are time consuming, sometimes expensive and laborious, they are the only way to go to protect your well being and your investment in your home.
Jared Reimer is a real estate broker with Prudential Rocky Mountain Realtors in Northern Colorado. Real estate is his passion and he always wants to connect with like-minded and savvy real estate fans. For more information or to get in touch with Jared, please visit his website at www.ReimerRE.com or email him at JaredReimer@ReimerRE.com