Sometimes homeowners are challenged by the complexity of codes and permits when planning a remodel. You may think these regulatory measures are nothing more than a needless government intrusion or a pointless cash grab. So you don’t get caught out, read on for a better understanding of permits and codes and what they mean to you.
Building Permits, Understood
Briefly defined, building permits are official written authorizations that a government (typically at the city or county level) issues to approve specific construction or remodeling projects. Following regulations and avoiding the wrath of government officials is an absolutely essential reason to secure a permit before beginning any significant construction or remodeling work. More than a legal requirement, permits ensure that all work is performed safely and in compliance with relevant construction, zoning, and building codes.
Building Codes, Understood
As defined by FEMA, building codes regulate the ”design, construction, alteration and maintenance of structures.” The permitting process centers around making sure that you do not break these codes in your construction or remodeling process. Setting minimum requirements to ensure the safety, health, and long-term welfare of all building occupants is their main purpose. Codes are essential to helping build your structure to protect people during earthquakes and extreme weather events.
The Benefits of Adhering to Permit and Code Regulations
Homeowners may resent the permitting process, but these regulations actually exist for your protection as well as the protection of others. They ensure that all projects result in structures and features that are safe to live in and use. Permits also add value to any property investment by serving as proof that all construction work was completed with industry best practices and in compliance with building codes. The inspection processes that are included in most permits can also keep contractors honest and guarantee that they deliver quality work.
The Dangers of Ignoring Permit and Code Regulations
Homeowners who skip the permitting process not only forfeit the various protections and benefits above but may face harsh repercussions from local authorities. If government officials need to force you to obtain a permit, they might double or triple the fees. Even worse, they might shut your project down or force you to tear down work that you have already completed. If your contractor completes a project without complying with the permitting process, you can only hope that they adhered to building codes for your safety and the safety of others.
In short, as the law resource NOLO puts it, “if your project requires a permit, get a permit.” And, furthermore, partner only with reputable contractors who take the time to get a permit themselves before beginning any construction or remodeling project.
Acquiring Professional Assistance
One of the key things to consider when choosing professional construction planning and design services is the ability (or lack of ability) of their architectural designers interact effectively with the local permit office. The codes for the region where a designer works should second nature and they should bring these to your attention early in the process so you have clear expectations.
Drafting Cafe Architects have extensive knowledge of the Bay Area’s building code requirements and can provide you with high quality plans and drawings that your contractor will be able to get approved. If there are design questions on plans they draw, they are happy to respond to your city or county’s permit office. For more information on permits and codes contact Drafting Cafe Architects today.