Building permits are one of the most fundamental parts of remodeling or renovating your home. Without the proper building permits the entire construction process can be held up. In fact, failure to obtain the proper permits can lead not only to delays but substantial fines as well. Below is a step-by-step guide to obtaining building permits for your next home project.
 
When is a permit required?
 
While the permit process can seem like a challenging or time consuming matter, following your local jurisdictions permitting laws will ensure your project is finished correctly and to code. The building code was ultimately created to protect homeowners and the community. 
Before starting your next project you will need to determine if a permit is required. Simple interior cosmetic changes like paint or carpet replacement will not require a permit. However, when a remodel consists of adding square footage to your home or other structural modifications, then a permit will need to be obtained. Consulting with your local building jurisdiction, or one of our professionals at Design Everest, will help you to decipher when permits are necessary for your potential remodel plans and when they are not.
 
Submitting your permit application
 
In order to acquire the proper permit for your project you need to have a clearly outlined plan of what your project entails. Having a well-defined plan will make the submittal process to your local building department easier. In certain planned development communities, an approval letter from the homeowners association may also be required with your application submission. 
Once all necessary documents are obtained by the building department, they will review the application and plans for your project. The approval process can generally take anywhere from two to six weeks depending on the scale of the project. Planning departments must review your proposed project plans and ensure that they meet the rules governing the land use in your community.

After the planning department gives approval, the building department must review your plans. The building department is responsible for examining plans for adherence to building code, and reviewing electrical, mechanical and structural modifications that are needed. It is normal for the building department to request additional information or recommend revisions to the plan.

Meeting building code
 
The International Building Code (IBC) is the building code implemented throughout the United States. It may vary in certain regions, but the IBC is the general rule guideline for remodeling or building. The plan reviewer or building inspector for your local building department will inform you if something in your plan does not meet the regulatory codes of the IBC. Homeowners should hire a building professional with thorough knowledge of their local code to ensure a more seamless permitting approval process. 
However, The IBC is not the only building code meant to protect homeowners and the community. Many communities also have green building and energy codes to adhere to. Green building codes set the standards for a project’s building efficiency, water consumption and management, toxicity of materials, air quality, and waste reduction. Energy codes on the other hand, involve regulating the energy efficiency of a home.

The inspection process
 
Once you have completed the permit process, received approval from the building department and begun construction on your home remodeling project, rough inspections will be underway. This is when it is imperative that construction has followed the approved plans; failure to do so can lead to the project not passing inspection. Ultimately, this will cost the homeowner both time and money. At Design Everest, we always recommend that you or your design professional verify the permit requirements as local building departments have varying policies. 
A project can be subject to any given number of inspections, usually determined by the scope of the project. Dependent on the project, special inspections or structural observations will also need to be passed. Many building officials rely on other professionals who can do structural observations to provide confirmation that a completed structure is in compliance with building code and the approved construction plans. A registered design professional, like our Design Everest Structural Observation service, can be hired to visit the project site to visually observe that the seismic force-resisting system of the building is in general conformance with the approved construction documents. Remember, the inspector is there solely to ensure all work is done correctly and follows local building code to keep homeowners and communities safe. Once rough inspections are approved by the inspector, the final project can be finished.

The final inspection
 
The final inspection is the easiest part of the process if all work follows the plans secured through the permitting and building code approvals. The final inspection is the last time the inspector will review construction work and your project will be determined complete. If you are unsure about anything required by the building permits, communicating with your contractor is the safest way to confirm final inspection will be passed. It is their job to handle all building permits and inspections and provide the homeowner with a project that is built to code. 
Hiring a reputable professional is the best way to ensure success in obtaining building permits. Contact the specialists at Design Everest today for your construction and permitting needs. 877-316-6451

*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.

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