Bay Area Building Permits: 5 Reasons To Get a Building Permit
If you are a homeowner and have completed renovations on your home recently, you know from first hand experience pulling a building permit can be a headache. With all the city issued permit fees and legal jargon, not to mention building inspector regulations and specifications, it's no wonder that homeowners will do just about anything to avoid applying for one.
However before you let your contractor pull down that stucco siding , be sure to consider these sound reasons every homeowner should be taking out a building permit for their project or renovation.
Reason # 1
Any work or project done on ANY home will require a building permit to add value to your home when appraising or selling. For example, let's say you add a 1000 sq. ft additional bedroom to your 3000 square foot home. You now own a 4000 sq ft home that is 1/4 larger than it was before. If you did not take the permit out for the addition, the value of your home (should you get it apprised for say a mortgage, bank lean or to sell) will not be added to the square footage of your home. So in this case, saving you money in city building permit fees really can cost you a significant percentage of the resale/appraisal value of your entire home in the long run. If you are located in the Bay Area, you may already know that the median home value in San Mateo County alone is $1,347,200. (San Mateo County home values have gone up 2.8% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 6.4% within the next year(1)) So because you didn't take out a permit for the addition on your home, you can miss out on a significant amount of cash.
"But my project isn't that extensive!", we often here contested. Unfortunately, the same goes for any installed fixtures, electrical, appliance installations, adding pools, spas or solar panels, even windows and doors; anything that would add to the value of your home would be disregarded by building inspectors/appraisers if you failed to apply for a building permit when the work was done. A warning to those seeking to avoid permits, many building departments throughout the Bay Area specifically seek out projects in residential neighborhoods lacking permits, looking for the tell-tale debris box, for homeowners attempting to to do renovations under the radar. Leading to Reason # 2.
Reason # 2
Your project (contractor) may get flagged for building outside of a permit and you may be fined by the city building department. The fee amount vary city by city but it's never a good idea for contractors who can have their contractors licence suspended or revoked. This is why it's always a "Red Flag" when a contractor wants to work without applying for building permits.
Because, Reason #3
Most licensed contractors will want you to apply for a building permit to comply with city ordinance. If they don't, it may be that they do not want the building department to know they are doing business. In such case, it would be in your best interest to do a quick background check and see if they have a valid contracting license. Luckily that information is readily available online in 2019. Check your contractors status here (2). If they are not listed, buyer beware; unlicensed contractors cannot be held legally accountable for the quality of service or work completed, leaving the homeowner to pay for corrections with another contractor.
Building permits protect homeowners and contractors from each other. This is an unfortunate but inevitable consequence of doing business; not all contractors, or homeowners for that matter, are the most reasonable with thousands of dollars in labor and material costs on the line. Having a building permit pulled and documented correctly saves time and energy if homeowners are less than pleased with their contractors work. Conversely, when contractors encounter shady homeowners that refuse to pay for work done or dispute quality of work completed, building permits leave a clear paper trail saving all parties involved effort when entering legal discourse.
City building permits also ensure that any architectural aspects of the project comply with current building standards (such as Egress, Title 24 Energy Code, WUIBS, etc) before work even begins. Mistakes made at the design level, like specifying non Title 24 compliant windows, level can costs thousands to correct.
Each city within the Bay Area has their own process for submitting and applying for residential building inspections. Contact your cites local building department to find out more about the Building Permit Application process for your area.