As you get excited to begin your construction project, it’s important to remember that assembling a team and starting to build is not as straightforward as it may seem. Even if you have a team of the most skilled laborers, there is one essential thing you must secure before you begin the construction of your project: a building permit.
So what is a building permit, and how do you obtain one? Let’s dive into the details surrounding building permits, so you can work toward completing your construction project legally and with peace of mind.
What is a building permit?
Building permits are legal documents granted by government officials in your local jurisdiction, which grant permission for the construction or renovation of a structure on land owned by you. This document serves as a legal agreement that details your obligation to comply with all pre-established laws, regulations, or codes related to the construction or renovation of a building.
Generally speaking, when having a building built or when planning large revisions on a structure, a building permit is necessary. Failure to follow the terms set in your permit, or to secure the permit in the first place, will likely result in penalties. Building permits are intended to ensure that the construction or renovation project complies with necessary guidelines for safety, compliance, and accountability.
How To Process a Building Permit
1. Go to your local government office.
The first step in processing building permits begins at your local government office. You need to go down there and inform them of your proposed building project. Depending on the scope of your project, the requested requirements may differ, but the office will inform you as to what specific documentation and steps you need to complete to get started on your building.
2. Obtain and fill out an application for the building permit.
Be ready to secure any relevant documents that may be required when submitting your permit application. This could include paperwork such as building blueprints, a survey of the land being used to house the structure, or documentation detailing any environmental impacts your structure may pose.
3. If necessary, go through with the interview.
In some cases, an interview will not be required when applying for a building permit. However, some local governments require an interview to be conducted during the application process, and you can contact them to see if this would be a requirement for you.
4. Now it’s time to wait.
Once the application is submitted with a fee, you will be closer to obtaining the permit. The length of time you must wait depends on your local government. In some cases, permits are provided within hours; other offices may take longer (about 2-4 months) to release your permit, especially in the case where the building project is complex or the office needs to further analyze your provided documents.
It may help to check any online portals that your government may have to see if they have processing times posted, or inquire in person at their office.
5. Display your newly-received permit.
When you have successfully received your permit, it must be on display for the entire duration of construction. Therefore, ensure that it is posted in a location that is easily visible and not in an area where it could be damaged.
6. Inspections may be required during construction.
These need to be scheduled to ensure that the work is following local building regulations and guidelines. Revisions may need to be conducted if the building is not up to code or does not properly follow the standards detailed by the inspector.
The building permit process can be a lengthy one, but it is always required when building plans are being established, such as house construction.
Penalties For Building Without a Permit
So you know how to get a building permit, but what are the penalties if you skip the process and go straight to construction? Will you really get in trouble for working on simple home improvement projects without a permit?
Some basic projects may fall under the category of house maintenance and will not require a permit, while others may be seen as significant modifications that require one. If you are unsure as to whether you need a permit or not, the best course of action would be to go down to your local government office and inform them about your proposed project.
However, if you are caught on a construction project without possessing the required paperwork, these are just some of the consequences you can expect to face.
The legal ramifications can be extensive if working without a permit. These lawsuits can originate from the local government, neighbors, or any other interested parties. Such events could lead to imprisonment or heavy fines.
Added to this, local authorities can force you to cease construction operations on your building and require you to demolish it. Having a construction built without a permit could also have damaging effects on the value of your land and, typically, you would not be able to obtain insurance on your building.
Building permits and the guidelines they encompass are established to ensure safe construction practices. Working in a manner that disregards these safety guidelines can jeopardize the well-being of those within the immediate vicinity.
As mentioned earlier, operating without a permit can have heavy financial consequences. These fines can vary in amount but have the potential to reach thousands of dollars. It’s important to note that these fines are separate from any charges that may result from damage to other neighboring structures or harm to individuals caused by your structure.
In the end, the building permit cost would be significantly lower than the potential financial consequences of being caught without one. Secure one so that you can focus your finances on your building.
When it comes to house construction, or any other structure for that matter, obtaining a building permit is essential. This permit is put in place to ensure that your construction project is carried out correctly, and your structure is designed with longevity and durability in mind.
While the process of obtaining a permit may require some effort on your part, it’s much better than starting construction without one and facing penalties as a result. By obtaining a building permit, you are not only complying with legal requirements but also investing in the quality and value of your structure.
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