Permits? We don’t need no stinkin’ permits!

May 11, 2011
Thumb_small_avatar25_1
Chicago
Permits? We don’t need no stinkin’ permits!

 

 Buildings permits? Why would you want a building permit? That'll just cost me money and then the government will raise my property taxes.

Have you been told this lie? It's not true. Typically unless you are adding square footage to your building, your tax appraisal won't go up... and even if you are adding square footage your taxes won't go up until your next appraisal, which is typically every few years. I've never seen a tax appraisal as part of a permit or inspection process.

So why the myth? The myth was started by unscrupulous contractors trying hard not to have anyone check their shoddy work. Why? Because they are taking short cuts in their work... short cuts that the city inspectors would never allow.  They won't allow short cuts for YOUR PROTECTION!

Permits are just a way for the government to maximize revenue.   Right?

WRONG. It's been my experience that the permit fees usually don't even cover the ammount of time inspectors spend reviewing plans and visiting job sites. In other words the salary's of city inspectors and the building departments are subsidized by our taxes. This means the building department actually costs the government money to run, not a revenue generating source.

Permits are necessary to protect you. Permits are to ensure your contractor is properly licensed and insured to take on the type of work you've hired them to do. Permits are to ensure that the proposed work of your contractor is safe and to building code. 

Don't skip out on the permit. If you are thinking of having any work done first contact the building department and ask if a permit is required. Ask what the permits fees are, or the permit formula. Permit price is often based on contract value.

Then ask your contractors who will be securing the permit. If the contractor tells you a permit isn't necessary or doesn't want to work with one this person is probably hiding something, or too novice to know any better. In either case you do you really want to hire someone who doesn't play by the rules? If they take this short cut, think of all the other short cuts they may take on your job.

Also ask up front if the contractor is to get the permit, are the fees included or will they be added to the invoice?  It's good to know this upfront.  For example I calculate my permit fees upfront and total them into my project values. I run a  turn key operation and don't like submitting a low bid then adding on all the hidden fees to the invoice. Are the permit fees included or will they be additional?

Get those building permits! Get the job done right the first time so you don't have to pay to fix it later. Pay twice? No thank you. Do it right the first time.


Comments (12)

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  • Thumb_f72c2528
    CookeCarpentryalmost 8 years ago

    Great article! I just wanted to add that for the first time, very recently, a project I completed was immediately re-assessed by the county for tax purposes. Pretty much the tax assessor showed up with the building inspector. I don't know if this is a sign of things to come, or just one county's way of bringing in more revenue sooner.

  • No-avatar-62
    22 Constitutionalmost 8 years ago

    Good points.

  • No-avatar-62
    contractorjayalmost 8 years ago

    we do work all the time without pulling permits. it's just a waste of time.

  • Thumb_f72c2528
    CookeCarpentryalmost 8 years ago

    Posted by: contractorjay

    we do work all the time without pulling permits. it's just a waste of time.

    What a great attitude to have.

  • No-avatar-62
    catspawalmost 8 years ago

    one big plus to pulling a permit is the building department verifies that the contractor is licensed and insured. this is a selling point for legitimate contractors and the customer feels safe. the tax appraisers receive a copy of the permit when it is issued and will often times final a job or assign a percentage of completion before an inspector will final it.i've dealt with some of the hacks that didn't think it necessary to pull permits and they don't last long in this area.

  • No-avatar-62
    astoralmost 8 years ago

    Here in Travis county, it is easy to pull permits, they even have quick-turn permits.I personally pull permits if it is an addition to the sq.ft of the house or electrical/plumbing work done.Interior decoration permits required but most of the time it is not enforced. permit fees are quite low here.

  • No-avatar-62
    pmi1almost 8 years ago

    I bid against these kind of people all of the time. some homeowners ust look at the bottom line while others are smart enough to know the difference between a good contractor and the ones that give the good old "tail gate warranty

  • Thumb_avatar25_1Author
    Grumpyalmost 8 years ago

    Posted by: CookeCarpentry
    Great article! I just wanted to add that for the first time, very recently, a project I completed was immediately re-assessed by the county for tax purposes. Pretty much the tax assessor showed up with the building inspector. I don't know if this is a sign of things to come, or just one county's way of bringing in more revenue sooner.

    What was the nature of the project? Was it an addition?

  • Thumb_avatar25_1Author
    Grumpyalmost 8 years ago

    That just goes to show your nature Jay. I already had this hunch about you anyways from reading some of your forum posts. My sympathy to your customers.

  • Thumb_avatar31235_1
    jhark123almost 8 years ago

    Grumpy, This is the internet, so you may want to qualify your statements with the area in which you work. In the county where I work a sign permit for a 3'x5' wood sign is $600! That's with no review, the intake and outtake fees are $300 each. Inless it's an addition, or something of that nature, we let the customer decide whether they want us to pull a permit or not (after we've told them the pros and cons).

  • Thumb_avatar25_1Author
    Grumpyalmost 8 years ago

    In some villages, I can do a roof permit for $55, and in some it's upwards of $300. So even on a micro geography like a metropolitan area permit fees vary greatly.


    The pro and the con is simple. If a permit is necessary and you don't pull a permit you are breakign the law. If the inspector stops by the job and there is no permit he will shut down the job. If a permit is a requirement it should be followed, period.


    In my opinion, folloowing the rules is what sets a professional apart from a cheat. Being legitimate is a cost of doing business that must be marked into the cost to the customer.


     


    Put yourself in the mind of your customer. If someone came to my house, my biggest investment, and started talking about doing the work without a permit it would make me very scared and nervous and likely knock the contractor downa  rung. Infact when I was looking for someone to remodel my condo kitchen one contractor said to me "Shhhhhhh" when I asked about permits.  In my mind nothing else he said after that fact mattered. If he was going to cheat on one item, he was going to cheat the whole job.

  • No-avatar-62
    Cutoncealmost 8 years ago

    You seem to be viewing this only from the point of the actual permit fee. The knock on costs are what really add up. Do you bill your clients for the day when the inspector said he would show up and didn't? Do you bill them for the days that you had to move your workers on to another job, because you are waiting on a inspection?

    90% of the inspectors I've dealt with didn't know a 2x4 from a 6x6. Where's the value in that inspection? Just because a job is permitted, certainly doesn't mean the work is of any higher standard than a job that wasn't permitted. If a client is wise, they have hired you because of a solid couple of references. Not because you are or are not getting permits.

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