Any major remodel, like anything like adding square footage or moving walls in your home, requires planning permission. However, depending on local regulations, you may even need a permit to the fence or re-roof your property. With so many renovation projects requiring planning permission, at some point, you may find yourself filling out paperwork, submitting plans, and jumping through hoops. Or at least hire a contractor to do the work for you.
To help you understand the process, we’ve compiled a list of the most pressing questions people have when it comes to getting building and remodeling permits.
Why do I need to switch licenses?
A building permit issued by the city or county entitles you to carry out specific building projects or renovations in your home. Permits are required to ensure safe completion of work and compliance with all building, construction, and zoning codes. This should be enough to ensure you have one. Even if you are the one doing the work, you want to make sure the job is done correctly and your home is safe.
But according to Realtor.com, failing to obtain a license can have some pretty serious consequences, including:
- The county or city can impose fines and penalties.
- You may have to redo the work to put it in code.
- Incorrectly done work can be dangerous and make your home unsafe.
- Lenders may deny you a mortgage if you do unauthorized work.
- Selling a home with unauthorized labor can be more difficult.
- Homeowner’s insurance generally does not cover unauthorized work.
- The home appraiser may not include it in the appraisal.
When do I need to switch licenses?
Whether you need planning permission for a home improvement project depends to some extent on where you live. A project in one city may require a permit, while a neighboring city may not. However, in general, you need planning permission to:
- Add or remove walls
- Add square footage to your home
- Demolish part of your home
- Repurpose the space (e.g. convert the garage into a bedroom)
- Change the wires
- Expand the plumbing in your home
- Recover your house
- Add a structure like a patio cover to your home
- Install or refurbish swimming pools
Generally, you do not need a building permit:
- Repaint the exterior of your home
- Plant trees, shrubs, or flowers
- Resurface your driveway
- Laying Floor Covering
- Add kitchen cabinets
These lists are by no means exhaustive and may vary due to local building codes. If in doubt, call your local planning and building authority.
Who is responsible for obtaining the conversion license?
The answer to this question depends on whether you want to do the work yourself or hire a contractor to do it. Let’s say you hire a contractor who is responsible for “pulling” or obtaining a building permit. Not only does this mean less work for you, but also less responsibility. The person pulling the approval is responsible for the work meeting code.
On the other hand, if you choose to do the work yourself, you will be considered a contractor for the project. This means that it is your responsibility to follow the code.
Sometimes you can apply for planning permission yourself, even if you are hiring a builder. For example, if your contractor is billed by the hour, you can save some money by taking care of the details yourself. However, before you decide to try it, you should know that the more complex the project, the more detailed and complex the paperwork will be. Not only do experienced contractors know how to provide the necessary information, but they may be able to obtain permits on time because they understand the process better.
How do I get a conversion license?
If you plan to do this work yourself, you must obtain permission. While the process may vary slightly by city or county, typical steps are:
- Obtain a permit application and fill it out.
- Prepare a site plan. (You may need to hire an architect to do this.)
- Appointment planning approval.
- Respond to corrections (request for more information).
- Schedule inspections for each part of the project.
- Complete the project and get final approval.
While the steps are fairly simple, applying for a permit can be complicated if you’re working on a major repair. You might be able to provide some basic details and get permission to install the new water heater “over the counter”. However, when converting a garage into a living space, the plan becomes more detailed, you may ask for more information, and multiple inspections are required.
How long does it take to obtain a conversion license?
With some planning and building authorities, you can get building permits “over the counter” for some simple projects. More complex projects can take up to three weeks or more, depending on departmental backlogs and whether you need to submit additional information or make corrections to the plan.
Hiring a contractor to get the permit for you can help if you’re in a hurry. The contractor will know how to fill out the paperwork, what to expect, and may even be the best person to submit the paperwork for a quick turnaround.
How much does it cost to switch licenses?
Fees depend on where you live and what you do. Fee schedules can often be found online with information from local planning and building authorities. Usually, the fee is calculated as a percentage of the appraised value after renovation.
Example: If Phoenix is assessed at $2,001, you pay $69.25 for the first $2,000 plus $14 for each additional $1,000. So for an estimated $10,000 renovation, you will pay $181.25 for the license. (Subtract the original $2,000 from the $10,000. Multiply the remaining $8,000 by $14 to get $112. Add the $69.25 fee to the original $2,000, and you get $181.25.)
What if I don’t get a conversion license?
If you do not have a permit and still decide to build, the city or county may issue a stop-work order ordering you to stop building. If you continue anyway, you could be subject to fines and other legal action.
However, don’t put yourself in danger. If you cannot get permission to do what you want in your current home, consider moving to a home that better suits your needs. Moving is also a good option if the whole process of hiring a contractor, obtaining a permit, and renovating your current home seems overwhelming.
While you’re at it, why not take the stress out of your move by hiring a professional mover? Moving.com has an extensive network of reputable and reliable movers who can do all the heavy lifting, as well as packing and move your entire home. And because they’re licensed and bonded, you can rest assured that your items will arrive safely in your new home.