The Risks of Building a Home Addition without
Pulling Permits First
Forgetting to Pull Permits on a New Home
Addition is Fraught with Danger, Liabilities, and Added Costs
By: Mark J. Donovan
If you have plans to do a major
construction project on your home, such as building a home addition or finishing
your basement, it is critical that you first make a trip down to your local town
hall and pull the necessary building permits. Not pulling permits for a home
construction project is fraught with legal issues and expensive fines by the
town, and quite possibly the state. Moreover, all of the money you invested in
the home construction project may end up being wasted. So regardless of the fact
that you may be a skilled carpenter or an experienced DIY’er, do not starting
excavating for a home addition foundation or framing basement walls without
first pulling permits.
Towns and cities are more frequently
going after and fining homeowners who have started a construction project on
their home, who have not first pulled the necessary permits. They are doing so
not just to make a few bucks off of the homeowners in permitting fees, but to
protect the homeowner and themselves from possible liability expenses down the
road. If, for example, a court finds that a homeowner did a major construction
project on a home that someone was later injured in, and that there was no
record of the requisite building permits issued by the municipality, the
homeowner and the town could face major penalties.
Also, although municipalities may not
be looking to make a few bucks off of a homeowner in building permit fees, they
are interested in maximizing the amount of property taxes than can collect from
the home. By not notifying the municipality of your major home remodeling plans,
a homeowner is “cheating” the town or city of additional revenues. With
municipalities’ appetites for spending increasingly rising, they now see it as a
major offense when a homeowner is not making them aware of future potential
revenue in the form of additional property taxes.
Also, if you don’t tell your town or city of your building plans, be assured
your neighbors will. If not for simply a big brother mentality, then out of pure
jealousy, they will feel compelled to notify the local authorities of your
It is also important to keep in mind that besides receiving a cease and desist
letter from the town, if you begin a home remodeling project without pulling
permits, you may also receive a letter stating to return the home to its
original state. Returning a home to its original state means having to tear down
the construction work performed to date on the addition or remodel.
In defense of the municipalities,
building codes were put in place to protect the occupants of a residence. Prior
to federal, state, and local building codes, house fires and other home
construction related accidents were much more prevalent. Prior to the advent of
building codes, it wasn’t uncommon for homes to be framed so poorly that they
risked collapse under only moderate weather related conditions. In addition,
electrical fires caused by shoddy electrical work in the home were common
By having knowledgeable building inspectors periodically visit and inspect a
home, or home remodeling project, during its construction, they can ensure the
work is performed to code and meets all safety requirements.
It is also important to keep in mind that building codes help to protect your
investment in your home. And that by having construction permits, and eventually
an occupancy permit, you have formal documentation proving to future buyers of
your home that it was constructed properly.
|If you attempt to sell a home that had major home construction work done on it,
such as building a home addition, you may run into problems selling the home
down the road if the necessary permits were not pulled for it. You may find
yourself having to bring the home construction project up to code before it can
be sold. Retrofitting an existing home addition or remodeling project to meet
code is an expensive and timely undertaking.
Another advantage of pulling permits for your home addition, or other major
construction project, is that you get nearly free oversight of your project.
By having the building inspector come out to your jobsite periodically,
they can help to ensure you that your home is being built to code, and to some
extent, to the architect’s blueprints. Consequently, as a homeowner, you
should almost consider the building inspector as a partner in the construction
of your home addition or remodel. In the end, all they are really doing is
helping to protect your safety and financial investment in your home.
The permit process may also require you to use professional and licensed
contractors, rather than allowing you to do the work yourself. For example,
although you may think you possess the necessary knowledge and skills to
electrically wire a house, it is not a wise idea to do so for liability reasons
as previously mentioned. And again, the cost of getting caught without having
first pulled the permit can be exorbitant.
For some cases, such as the case of electrical or plumbing work, your contractor
may have to go down to your local town hall and file for the requisite permits.
In other cases, the homeowner may be able to pull certain permits him or
To conclude, not pulling building permits is foolish and will most likely
end up costing you a lot more money in the end, than if you had simply pulled
the permits and played by the book in the first place. The permit process also
ensures that your home construction work is done to building codes, and thus
should add a level of comfort, both from a personal safety standpoint and a
For more help on building a second floor
addition or room addition, see HomeAdditionPlus.com's
Addition Bid Sheets.
Addition Bid Sheets will help ensure that your home
building project goes smoothly and is
completed on time and budget.
Related Information on Building a Home Addition
Additional Home Building and
Free Home Addition
Price Quotes with No Obligation!
Fill out our 3-5 minute quick and easy form, and receive a
free price quote on a home addition from one of our prescreened and licensed
home addition contractors. This process is free and there is no obligation to
continue once you receive your home addition price estimate.