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Permits Question

If a homeowner finishes their own basement, are permits necessary?  And if so, why?  Is it simply revenue for the local government?  What are the repercussions of not getting the proper permits?
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February 03 2009 - Germantown
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If you are painting the walls,  and putting down carpet, then most likely you don't need a permit. If you are putting up permanent walls, installing electrical and plumbing or making changes to load bearing walls - then yes, you need permits AND quite frequently have the work done by licensed professionals.

What you are paying for in getting a permit for work is having the work inspected to ensure it meets current building codes.

The repercussions of not getting permits (and not getting inspected) is having sub standard work done that would have to be redone if it's ever found out. The more dire consequence is the chance that electrical, plumbing and structural work is done improperly, which could cause catastrophic things like fires, etc. Good luck getting your insurance company to cover you for your bad handiwork in the event of a loss.
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February 03 2009
Now a days you need a permit for just about anything , short of painting.  Are you doing electrical, plumbing, mechanical, than you need a permit.  In some cases you need a demo permit first.  Do you plan on living there, the rest of you life.  If so, then screw the permit and get some friends in the trades to help you.  If you plan on selling, what you do won't be on the county record, if it's major work.  That can be a can of worms when you go to sell. I know from experience.  Good Luck
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February 03 2009
Profile picture for wetdawgs
Permits are for safety, to ensure modifications are done to code. 

We bought a house once where the home owner had done a lot of unpermitted work and was quite proud of his expertise.  We asked for permits, and they didn't exist.  Therefore, everything was inspected rigorously and many changes were required.   The consequence was probably more in cost of repairs than if he had pulled the permits originally.

A second story:  We were sellinh due to job relocation although not desperate.  A party made an offer on our house contingent on closing in two weeks.  Why were they in such a hurry?   Because they had placed an offer on another house that had had unpermitted remodelling, and half way through inspection the inspector refused to continue because he said it was too dangerous.  The buyers were living in a hotel with a small child, and didn't want to deal with the hassle of requesting repairs so wanted a quick close.   We won on that one!
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February 03 2009
I agree with above posts. Permits are required if there is a change of use, moving/adding walls, modifying electrical, etc. Contact the local building department and they will gladly answer your questions without asking for your address.
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February 04 2009
Profile picture for bamkmartin

If you ever plan on selling the house, dont do any type of remod without the mans approval.  If your house caught fire from a shabby un approved remod in the basement, think your insurance company will pay up? 

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February 23 2009
 
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