How the Permit Process Works When Finishing a Basement
When beginning a basement finishing project, be sure to acquire the necessary permits. Failing to do so could cost you a lot of money and headaches down the road. Permits are a way to ensure that the work on your home is done correctly – for safety reasons – and that it complies with current building codes. Here’s what to expect and what you’ll need to go through the building permit process.
Should You Get a Building Permit? The Answer is: Yes!
Pulling a permit is a critical step in the basement finishing process. Even if the work you do is up to current building codes, it may not be acceptable down the road if the building codes change. With a permit, you are protected against future code changes. When it’s time to sell your home, issues of compliance for non-permitted work can be a problem and getting the basement permitted after the fact can be very costly. It may even involve tearing out walls and redoing work.
What Will You Need?
To apply for a permit you will need:
- A drawing of your design to scale that includes:
- Room descriptions and labels, as well as the height of the ceiling
- Smoke detector locations
- Electrical, plumbing and HVAC locations
- The permit application and permit fee (this information can be found on each municipality’s website and is usually about $1 per square foot)
After the permit is obtained and construction begins, you will need inspections at various stages to check:
- Electrical, and
The inspector will sign off on each phase of the project once it is satisfactorily completed, so you can move on to the next step. When all the work is done, you will have a final inspection and a signed-off permit to indicate that all inspections have been passed.
The building permit process doesn’t have to be scary. It is simply a way to ensure that the work you are doing is done correctly, safely, and meets current building codes. However, any concerns you have about compliance can be easily handled by hiring a basement finishing company. Your contractor will pull the permit for you and ensure that all the inspections go well. In fact, it is required that whoever does the work obtains the permits and undergoes the inspections. All reputable contractors will do this as part of normal business. (Be wary of contractors who don’t pull permits, and make sure they are licensed in your area.)