Do you always need a building permit?

Q: Are permits always necessary before making home improvements?

A: Some people avoid getting building permits to save both time and money. Typically, most cities require them. In addition to ensuring safety during construction — housing inspectors often stop by to check the progress of projects at key points — they also provide a source of revenue.

When a building permit is issued, cities charge a fee. Also, work done with a building permit can result in an increase in the homeowners’ property taxes because, generally, a home improvement increases the assessed value of the property.

Permits are often required when any structural work is planned or the basic living space of a home is altered. They generally cover new construction, repairs, alterations, demolition and additions to a structure. Some jurisdictions require the permit to be placed in a visible spot on the premises while the work is being done.

Besides structural changes, permits also may be needed to cover the installation of foundations for tanks and equipment, as well as the construction or demolition of ducts, sprinkler systems, or standpipe systems.

By law, all buildings must have a building permit and a certificate of occupancy before they can be used. 

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