Right from the start, I want to clarify something of great importance. You probably WILL need a building permit. With a new house or addition/renovation, just about the only thing you can do without a permit is paint, change your kitchen cabinets or replace your bathroom fixtures. The old days of flying under the municipal radar are over and the old reasons for not getting a building permit have now been completely over shadowed by the negative repercussions if one is not obtained. You may think you will save money by not getting the proper permits, however, there is a big risk of potentially losing a considerable amount money by neglecting this important step.
The following reasons are to explain in detail the reasons to get a building permit:
- Legal Liability:
If someone is injured because of something to do with the unpermitted work done, the insurance company could try to not pay the claim. They would probably win. This leave you solely responsible and legally unprotected. The same concept goes for damage to property from construction or from forces beyond anyone’s control such as fire or earthquakes. All in all, by doing things illegally, you are not covered in case of unforeseen circumstances.
2. Stop Work Order:
If the municipality is notified that you are building, or have built, without a permit, it is legally obligated to inspect the claim. If the claim is true, they will put a “Stop Work Order” on your project. They will make you get drawings done, apply for necessary permits, watch you like a hawk and give you a hefty fine with a timeline to get moving towards fixing the problem. Also, if things have been built without best practices in mind or not to code, you will have to ensure that the work done is done properly. There have been cases where people have had to tear down entire additions and begin from scratch, losing tens of thousands of dollars, because the work was not adequate. The city does not care about cost when it comes to stop work orders. They will make you prove that the work is done properly and force you to bring it up to code if it is not. Regardless of outcome, it is going to cost a fair bit of money and time to rectify it all.
With no proper inspections, you can’t know if the materials and workmanship is done properly. How can you be sure the builder is constructing your project with proper spans, beams and loads? This only leaves you in uncertain danger for the foreseeable future because you will never know if your project will last or if it will fall down, maybe with you inside. You are essentially trusting your life into a persons hands that is comfortable working illegally and that’s a red flag worth considering.
4. Legal Recourse:
Without a permit, you have very little legal recourse in the event of having to sue the builder or specific trades for bad or incomplete work. Not having a permit does not help your case at all, in fact, it may hinder it. If your project falls down from bad construction practices or if your builder decides to leave mid-way through, what can you do? The answer is not much.
4. Selling the House:
If you go to sell the house, you will have to declare any and all work that has been done without a permit. This will devalue your property and create difficulties in the process of selling your house. A potential buyer does not want to purchase a house that could be, in their eyes, a ticking time-bomb of expenses from inadequate work that they had no part in. If you do not declare the work when you sell, the new owner could file a lawsuit and have a strong case against you.