Did you have some construction/reconstruction done in your home without a building permit? Is obtaining building permits after work is done possible? The answer is yes, it is possible. However, it will usually cost you more than what you would have spent if you had gotten a building permit in the first place. It is important that you understand that a building permit comes before any work is done.
Consequences that arise from not pulling a building permit
Obtaining building permits is often a hassle. This is why constructing without permits has become an easy way out for many. However, building without permits can actually cause you more problems later on.
Delays and fines
One consequence is that your construction may be put to a stop. If an inspector comes by during construction and you cannot present him a building permit, he has the authority to stop everything. You can also get a fine, which will be more expensive than the cost of getting a permit in the first place.
Low Appraisal or No buyers
Another consequence that may arise is that if you are planning to sell your home, the building might get a lower appraisal. You might also be rejected for a mortgage refinancing and a buyer will most likely not be able to get a loan to purchase your home. Long story short, it will be harder for you to sell at a price you want. That said, a few hundred dollars spent on getting a building permit is a whole lot less than the thousands you could lose from a sale.
The city/government might need you to tear down your work.
Building permits are required to ensure safety and to ensure the work is done properly. If you do it without a permit, the city code might tear down the current thing to check if these standards were followed. For example, to see if the proper framing was used, the wall would have to be torn down.
Construction without building permits might mean incorrect installations or construction
If you hire a contractor, make sure they are doing things right. They are usually the ones in charge of getting permits. If they do not get the necessary permits, they might be doing things wrong or not according to the city code. Thus, you should consider getting another contractor.
Insurance might not cover damage of a non-permitted work
If something happens to your house or building, the damage might not (or will not) be covered by the insurance policy.
When should I get a building permit?
If you are unsure when you should get a building permit, just ask your city building department. Generally, minor alterations like paint jobs and other aesthetic issues do not require a permit. Work that alters the floor plan, the roofline, walls, plumbing, and electrical alterations will probably need a permit. When in doubt, just ask your local department.
Obtaining building permits after work is done
If it was not already clear, you need the building permit before you start any work. Otherwise, do not be surprised by the consequences. If you are able to get a permit after the fact, consider yourself lucky! It is possible to get one after the work is done, but expect it to be time-consuming, costly, and hassle.
If you are not sure whether you need a permit or not, just ask. If you know your project needs a permit, just get the permit. In the end, it is for your own safety and benefit. It ensures that you are following the safety regulations and that work is done properly. If you hired a contractor, you do not really need to worry about it because it is part of their responsibility to get it. They will be liable for following the code.
Even if you have a contractor, just make sure they do it right. Some contractors may skip the permit without you knowing. It is part of their responsibility to get the necessary permit. If you have a contractor but you still got the permit, you will be liable and not the contractor. Finally, make sure you check your local building department. Regulations and codes may be different in each city, county, or state.