Clients often ask why they need building permits for their bathroom, kitchen, and home remodel projects. My answer is always the same “Building permits are the cheapest insurance you will ever buy. Building permits ensure projects are performed safely, correctly, and in compliance with building, construction, and zoning codes.” Does this matter? Absolutely!
The responsibility of the Building Official is to the homeowner, not the Contractor. Their job is to independently verify that the Contractors work is safe. There is no middle ground when it comes to building permits. It is either pass or fail.
I have personally witnessed on countless occasions what can happen when permits are not obtained. The worst situation was in my own neighborhood. I visited a perspective client for a bathroom remodel. He did not want to pull permits believing it was a waste of money. I politely declined my services.
This neighbor hired someone who performed the full bathroom remodel. About 6 months later, his house burned almost to the ground. The reason, faulty electrical in the bathroom remodel. His insurance company refused to pay to rebuild his home because he hired an unlicensed person who performed illegal (unpermitted work).
How much money did this guy save now? He lost his house, personal property, and life savings. The permits for his master bathroom remodel would have cost less than $900. For $900 he lost everything. So sad and tragic.
Building Permits – It’s the law
According to the California Residential Code, Title 24, Part 2.5, Section R105.1: “Any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by this code, or to cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit.”
If you are still not convinced, call your local City Building Department and ask.
Here are some of the more common responses I receive from clients when I bring up the topic of permits. Below each is my typical response.
My friends, neighbors, etc. did similar work and they didn’t get a building permit.
Okay – so you have friends and neighbors who think its acceptable to break the law. These same people are making it clear they do not care much about the health and safety of their friends, family, neighbors, or community. Ask yourself “Can I live with myself if by not getting a permit my child or someone else’s child is seriously injured or killed?” The primary reason for and the greatest benefits of permits is health and safety.
We’re not changing any walls around or doing any outside work. Why do I need a building permit?
Permits and inspections are there to protect you and your family. Is the health and safety of your family important to you? I hope you answered yes!
According to the United States Fire Administration:
- Faulty wiring is the number one cause of electrical fires.
- Defective electrical wiring cause more than 28,600 fires annually. These fires generate approximately $1.1 billion in property damages and an average of 310 deaths each year.
- Electrical fires accounted for 6.3% of all residential fires.
Many electrical fires are caused by faulty electrical installations. Imagine receiving a phone call at work informing you that your daughter was killed while using your newly remodeled bathroom (without permits to save a few bucks)? I don’t know about you, but the health and safety of my family is worth a few extra dollars.
But it costs more to get building permits and inspections.
Does it? Yes, it is true that doing anything correctly at first seems to cost more – but does it? If you change the oil in your car every 5,000 miles, does this add to the cost of ownership? Of course, it does – but consider for a moment how much longer your car will last! According to every car manufacture, changing your cars oil on a regular basis is the single most important thing you can do for your car. Not changing your cars oil results in reduced mileage (higher gas cost), breakdown of critical components inside the engine, and reduced engine life. So, how are those savings measuring up now that your car is at the dealer every few months costing you $600 a pop vs. that $30 oil change you did not spend the money on?
Getting building permits and having each phase of your project inspected by the City Building Inspector will save you far more money and reduce your total cost of ownership than otherwise. Getting permits will require the use of higher quality materials. Permitted work also requires additional materials along with competent licensed professional trades that actually know what they are doing.
Permitted jobs take more time to complete – but they are performed safely and correctly! Is it worth it? Ask the Fire Marshal when your house burns down due to an electrical fire if permits are worth it. While you are at it, ask your home insurance company how much money you saved after they inform you that you have no coverage because your remodel was performed illegally without permits.
You’re the only person who has said anything about building permits – nobody else has.
That is because DAD’s Construction actually cares about the health and safety of you, your family, and the community. We also believe in making sure you have all the facts to make an informed decision regarding your project. Part of this involves understanding the need for permits and inspections.
Does it really make sense to hire someone who, from the beginning, is telling you that they are a criminal who has no issue with breaking the law and putting you and your family at risk? Are you kidding me! You are going to let this person inside your home and be among your family and possessions? Why would you do this – to save a few dollars?
How Can I Receive More Information?
If you would like more information on enjoying the best bathroom, kitchen, and interior remodeling experience in Orange County, call Dan at (949) 380-0177 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free in home consultation. DAD’s serves all of South Orange County California. This includes Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Foothill Ranch, Portola Hills, Ladera Ranch, Irvine, San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto de Caza, Dove Canyon, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Newport Beach, and Aliso Viejo.