You can avoid many problems before you begin a home or commercial remodeling or renovation project by contacting your local building department. Building department officials can tell you what type of projects require building permits and inspections, which ones don't and even offer advice in completing the job safely.
"A building permit is a license that grants legal permission to begin construction of a building project," said the Building Commissioner. "Permits and inspections are necessary to verify that local building and fire code standards are met. If not, the public's health, safety and welfare is at risk."
If you hire a professional contractor to do the work, select a builder who is familiar with local building codes. The codes apply whether a professional or a do-it-yourselfer does the job.
Most people realize that new buildings, additions to existing structures, renovations, demolition, temporary buildings and fireplace installation usually require building permits and inspections. Less obvious projects that may require permits include installing swimming pools, decks and fences as well as some tasks that involve electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
"The time to call us is before you start a project," the Building Commissioner said. "Tell us what you plan to do and we will explain the legal requirements and assist you until the project is completed safely."
After contacting the building department, you will have to complete an application for a building permit. Code officials can also provide resources and information that will help make your project a success and avoid potential problems that could cost you time and money.
The permit application will require basic information about the project, such as who will perform the work, what work will be done and how the work will be done. The application also will ask you to submit sketches, plans or other documentation for review. If the construction plans do not comply with code, zoning and other related ordinances, a code official can help you adjust your plan to meet the requirements for a permit.
To receive a permit you will have to pay a small fee. The fee helps defray the cost of the building department's time spent on the application, review and inspection process. The fee also gives you access to the building department's knowledge and experience when you have questions about the construction project.
Post the building permit at the construction site. Any proposed changes to the original plan should be brought to the attention of the code official. Some changes will require review and approval.
Once the work begins, the building department will inspect each major phase of construction. It is the responsibility of the person doing the work to schedule inspections. Normally, you want to give the building department at least two days notice for an inspection. If the inspector finds that some work does not meet code, the inspector will tell you what needs to be done to bring the work up to acceptable safety standards.
"When the work is done and the inspector approves the final project, you will receive a certificate of occupancy," the Building Commissioner said. "This certificate formally marks
completion of the project with the knowledge that it meets code and safety standards."
For more information about building permits, inspections and fees, call the Building Department at 508-866-3405.