Getting A Building Permit
Learn how to get a building permit. Homeowners and property owners will find that there are various laws governing the use of real property.
Homeowners and property owners will find that there are various laws governing the use of real property. Although a property owner has the right to exclusive possession of the ground and the space above, to some degree, as well as below the surface of a property within his boundaries, he cannot use or misuse it in such a way as to cause harm to the property of his neighbors or his community. Local governments may often restrict the use of private property by instituting what is known as zoning regulations. These zoning ordinances are designed to stabilize neighborhoods, preserve the character of the community and guide the future growth of a municipality. Thus, when you want to remodel, rebuild or make an addition to your home, you will need to visit a building inspector in the early stages of your planning.
You can find the building inspector for your municipality listed in a local telephone directory. By talking with him you will learn the requirements and standards of the local building code. Building codes grant a legislature the right to enact laws that improve unsafe conditions in any type of building. Although these laws may restrict the freedom of owners to enjoy their property as they wish from time to time, they allow various administrative agencies to enforce health and safety rules on buildings.
Most building codes require an owner to obtain a certificate of occupancy for every new or remodeling project. It doesn't matter if you are finishing a basement, building a garage, adding an extra bedroom, putting up a fence or installing an in ground swimming pool, a certificate of occupancy is proof that the building inspectors found that all construction has met with legal specifications. In most areas, the building code includes fire safety regulations to protect the public from fire, smoke and panic, which makes fire fighting easier. Other building code provisions provide that premises be kept clean to reduce fire hazard and the breeding of vermin. In many cases they will call for bathing facilities, toilet facilities and adequate heat for the dwelling. This code also enables the building code inspector to deal with delapidated dwellings or outbuildings and order them repaired or torn down. Local and state authorities are given the authority and frequently enact special regulations for house trailers and trailer camps. Basically, building codes are set to protect the public in general from unhealthy situations. But this authority doesn't just stop there. The laws are set in such a manner that it gives public officials the authority to stop dangerous conditions before they develop.
Before you visit with a building inspector, be sure to call so you will know what items he requires you to bring with you. For instance, some inspectors require a survey of your property and copies of your plans. You will need to write any questions you may have concerning the project you plan, but the building inspector will tell you if your plans vary from zoning regulations. For instance, in a case where you might be planning to add a professional office to your home which is in a residential district, a building inspector might suggest the need for a special approval before you begin building. In a case such as this, you will need a variance which will need to be approved by a board of appeals or adjustment. When you have completed your plans, the building inspector will examine them and ask for any changes that need to be made to keep you in compliance with the local building code. In many cases these changes will involve the methods you are using or perhaps even the materials. Once you have made all the necessary changes the building inspector will issue you a building permit and you can begin your project. There will be a fee attached to your building permit that is usually between 2 and 8 percent of the project's estimated cost. But this fee will insure that you get routine inspections which will make sure your finished project leaves you with a safe and reliable home.
During certain stages of the construction, either the building inspector or a deputy will visit the site to make these inspections. They will check the foundation of your construction when all the forms and reinforced steel are in place before the concrete is poured. All sewage ditches are inspected prior to being filled to insure proper placement. When the shell, siding and roofing of your structure are in place, the building inspector will inspect the framing. Many times when inspecting the plumbing lines and electric the inspector will need to test these installations before you put up plasterboard or other wall surfaces that cover them. When all these inspections find the work you are doing in compliance with the building code, a final inspection will be done and you will be issued a certificate of occupancy by the building inspector which will allow you to use the building or addition.
Although getting the required building permit may seem like quite a hassle when you are planning a building project on the property you own, there are many good reasons to do so. If you are a contractor you risk not getting paid if your work does not fit the requirements of law. It is also very important to have a certificate of occupancy if you decide to sell your property since a buyer will require that the buildings on the property to be legal in every respect. When the fire inspector issues a certificate stating that your new construction is in compliance with fire laws, it protects the owner if he is sued or charged with any criminal violation. This coupled with the fact that anyone who builds without a building permit can be ordered to pay a fine if they do not remove anything that violates the building regulations, makes acquiring a building permit less of a hassle and more of an attraction.