Why Permits are Required

Municipalities require that homeowners obtain permits for major improvements, like electrical work, structural changes and plumbing.  The main reason is to make sure that your contractor (or you) did the work properly, and by code.  It’s not because, as some Libertarians feel, government is too big.  It is to enforce safety.

Many times a homeowner will make improvements, then shortly after will place their home on the market, forgetting about the need for the permit. This serious issue can become a real problem, especially if the improvements were not disclosed, and a future problem occurred, like an electrical fire, or a collapsing deck or balcony. Chances are these things won’t happen.  But  if they do, you may encounter tremendous liability.

What will happen, however, is this – your settlement with your buyer can be seriously delayed. This of course can cause problems for you and your buyer. You municipality will need to have the permit pulled by you, then the work inspected, and if there are any problems, they must be corrected as per building code. Is this a pain in the backside?  Yes. But all for good reason.

If you are a homebuyer, inquire about recent improvements. Make sure your attorney discovers if there were permits needed for any past work.  Some attorneys also now include a clause which states, “Seller has obtained all necessary permits for any improvements during their ownership.”

Like any thing else, make sure it’s done right the first time. 

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