Home Owners I’m Begging You to Get Permits when Making Improvements

I know, I know, it’s your house and you want to do what you darn well please, but if you have unfinished space in your home that you want to complete, please get a permit.

Why? Because when you go to sell your home this is going to be a big problem for you if you don’t take this step up front. Most lenders will not fund a loan on a home with unpermitted space. Kind of a big deal, huh? That means when you are ready to get your home on the market you are going to be scrambling to get retro-active permits which is a pain, let me tell you.

Why don’t most home owners get permits. Well, they think it’s difficult, but it really is a much easier process than most think. Many can be filed online.

In North Carolina you will need to file your building permit application with either the county or the city where the property is located. Most permitting is handled on the county level with the county Planning Department, but some large cities such as Raleigh have their own Development Services office that handles building permits. Whether you need to apply with your county or your city, the general process is the same.

What permits will I need for your building project? In addition to a basic building permit, there are several other permits that you may be required to have before construction can begin. These include:

• Electrical permits for electrical work
• Plumbing permits for plumbing work
• Grading permits for surfacing and paving work
• Mechanical permits for installation of heating and air conditioning units
• Demolition permits, if needed

Soooo, what happens if you did not get permits at the time you did the above work and need to get them later? You may have to pay a penalty fee for not getting them in the first place, you will have to pay for the regular permit fees, AND say for example the electrical inspector needs to see the wiring your walls, guess what, he’s ripping out sheet rock. Oh yeah, would have been easier to do it up front, right?

So what work needs a permit? Let’s take a look at that.

  • Electrical: A licensed contractor is not needed to change light bulbs, work on appliances that are plugged in not hard wired (some but not all microwaves, dishwashers and garbage disposals and other appliances of that nature). This also includes service to HVAC units or appliances where a breaker can be turned off. In this case the unit can then be serviced or repaired, as long as no re-wiring is done then the breaker turned back on. But items that some may consider small such as putting a loose wire into a junction box, putting wire nuts on the ends, and putting a cover on it, by state law, requires a license. All other electrical projects require a license such as changing out ceiling fans, light fixtures or adding outlets.
  • Plumbing: As long as flow to the house is not interrupted then a handyman can do repair. For example, changing sinks, faucets and supply lines, these can be done without a licensed plumber because there is usually a valve for the hot and cold supply lines under the sinks, which when turned off only cuts supply to that fixture not the entire structure. Toilets are required to have a license contractor change them out because the wax seal is replaced because that would interrupts the flow of the system to the sewer because the “P-trap” is located inside the toilet so when the toilet is removed sewer gases can come up through floor drain.
  • Heating & Air Conditioning (HVAC): All work done to an HVAC unit requires a license except when charging a unit with freon. In this case only a CFC license is required, not a full HVAC license. Changing filters and securing loose return or supply grills/vents does not require a license.
  • Additions/Remodels: If the project is over $30,000.00 it requires a General Contractors License unless the homeowner is doing the work him/herself.

Much to many people’s surprise there are no licenses needed to do siding or roofing work. I hope you find this information helpful and if you need a referral for any contractors mentioned above please let me know and I’ll put you in contact with one!

Written by:

Cassondra Liles, Realtor @ The Key Team
Keller Williams Realty – Garner, NC