Most homeowners hate building permits. Maybe it’s because they don’t like it when the government tells them what they can or can’t do. It could be the delays or costs. Whatever the reason, homeowners ask contractors and plumbers every day if they’ll do their job without a building permit. A licensed contractor who works without proper authorization puts their license at risk and can face disciplinary action and fines by the state. Homeowners who work on their property without proper permit can face fines as well as significant rebuilding problems. It is against local and state laws to conduct improper construction work, and building code enforcement is against this type of activity.
Many homeowners are confused and uniformed about when a building permit is required. In my opinion, the Marion County’s Building Security Department has the best policy in place when planning permission is required: “All projects require planning permission to build, expand, modify, occupy or occupy the occupancy repair, move, demolish or alter the contents of a building or structure or any outdoor area used as part of the intended occupancy of the building, or to erect, install, enlarge, modify, repair, remove or replace any electrical, gaseous, mechanical or plumbing systems that are regulated by technical codes. “
Marion County’s Building Safety Department’s guidelines for non-licensing work are: “Ordinary minor non-structural repairs are designed to ensure that such repairs do not violate technical regulations.” The department states that for Minor faucet repairs, home decor improvements, minor stucco repairs, and minor air conditioning work do not require a permit. Obviously, most major home projects will require you to get planning permission in addition to basic maintenance and minor repairs. If you are not sure, contact your local construction department.
Despite building regulations for permits, many homeowners continue to insist on doing projects without proper permit. As a result, most of them get a rude awakening that costs them a lot of money. Homeowners should understand that most local Florida jurisdictions will forever record every transaction on their property, including building permits for work. This is where people get into trouble.
For example, a major problem in the state of Florida is access to affordable homeowner insurance for homes with roofs that are over 17 years old. This is especially true if the house is being sold. Insurance companies base their decision to offer coverage on the date of the last roof approval. If you replaced the roof on your 30-year-old house five years ago without a permit, the insurance company will assume you never replaced the roof. They could request that you replace the roof or that you go back and have the five year old roof approved, inspected, and approved by the jurisdiction. It is very difficult to return afterwards as the workmanship of the underlay, terrace and nail patterns is hidden.
Another major permit problem for many Central Florida homeowners is locking in the back porch without a permit. The windows and structure that enclose the porch must comply with hurricane codes, exit standards, and possible tempered glass requirements. More importantly, if you place an air conditioner in this area, you need to do an energy calculation to make sure your system is the right size. In order to get caught now or later, plans have to be drawn, technical and energy calculations carried out. The problem for this and most of the other projects is that you may have to pay fines and rip out the enhancements if they weren’t made by code or if they’re not allowed in your home.
Remember, any improvement or addition you make to your property that is not allowed is not on the property records – that is your problem. If a room is added, a door replaced, or a shed built in the back yard it will either be on the property records or not as the evidence is on or with your home.
The chances of getting caught if you don’t get permission are good these days. With the internet and Google Satellite View that local governments use to access property values, and when they see improvement without approval, the homeowner has a problem. Then you have the nosy neighbor and social media that keep no secrets. Or you have a neighbor who doesn’t like you and is more than willing to give you up because you haven’t got a building permit.
Besides, there is construction going on everywhere and inspectors drive thousands of kilometers every week. There’s a good chance they’ll drive past your house and see the work being done without your permission, which is not a good thing. If you’re selling your home and your title search improvements don’t have building permits, you’re in a big problem. It is just terrible to let old work with new building codes where the work has been covered up – it’s a bureaucratic meat grinder that’s full of hassles and costs a lot of money.
My advice is simple: don’t work without a building permit or ask a contractor or installer to break the law. Don’t be angry if a good contractor turns down an improper project, and carefully hire a contractor to do this type of job. As with most construction projects, the best advice is to do the right thing.
Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply. He is also the host of the TV show Around the House on LSTV and LakeSumterTV.com, which runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 1pm and 6.30pm. Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and on Saturday at 7 a.m., 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.