A building permit doesn't get a lot of attention, but it is more helpful than many people know. Most anyone who owns, or has ever owned a home has had some experience in obtaining a building permit for repairs, upgrades and additions to be legally and safely done to the property. While most people are familiar with the building permit process, most have never stopped to consider the importance of it and how the existence of the building permit is helpful in many ways, on both a local and nationwide level.
On the local level, having a building permit ensures that housing is built, repaired and remodeled safely and in accordance with modern safety codes, such as fire and electrical. The code inspector can help answer questions and provide input that may be helpful before and during the time the work is being done. This code inspector will also conduct inspections as part of the building permit process. The number of inspection visits needed will be determined by the amount of work being done, as well as the type of work and local codes and customs. These site inspections help insure that the work is completed safely and properly and also to look for any problems that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. Once the work is completed, the inspector will do a final inspection, and if the work has been completed properly, he will sign off the work and note this in the permanent building permit records for your home.
Building permit records can be accessed by the public. For example, if you should sell your home, the buyer can obtain copies of these records to look for assurance that all improvements were permitted and legal. In many areas, improvements done without a building permit, are illegal and subject to fines, removal of any improvements that were made with no building permit or even may even force the property to remain unoccupied. Work done without a proper building permit can be costly too, for example having your basement area finished may not count as finished square footage at time of sale unless the construction was done under a properly issued building permit.
The existence of a building permit can benefit property owners in other ways as well. Insurance companies often check building permit records and use these as proof of age or the safety of certain improvements, such as the roof or wiring. When property used, the building permit process assures the property owner has a record of all repairs, improvements and work done on his home, past and present. This record of existing building permits provides an indisputable record that is helpful, should something occur that brings to bear a certain types of lawsuits or other legal action.
Building permit processes are one of the ways that communities help keep residents safe, by ensuring that safety codes are followed uniformly, thus lessening risk of fire and other dangers that might be caused by sub-standard work. In most communities, some type of building permit applies to residential construction, repairs and improvements and also to commercial buildings, rental properties, schools and churches. Your local codes authority office can answer any questions you may have regarding the building permit process in your area.