“Too often, homeowners don’t take building codes into consideration when they are thinking about renovating their property,” says Todd Hetherington, CEO of Century 21 New Millennium. “This is usually because they don’t understand them, don’t want to spend the time or money, or don’t realize that a permit is necessary for most structural additions and remodeling projects.” Getting a building permit before you start planning a renovation can ease the process and negate any problems down the line—such as a potential buyer requesting proof of permit for that extra bedroom you added.
What exactly are building codes? They are set public-safety standards for things like construction, maintenance, use and occupancy. In order to make a change to your property, you need a permit that states your renovations coincide with all applicable building codes. Permits may be needed to cover projects such as the installation of foundations for tanks and equipment, or the construction or demolition of ducts, sprinkler systems, or standpipe systems. These codes are modified often, and established and enforced by government officials or politicians. “Enforcement tactics can include denying permits, occupancy certificates, or by imposing fines,” explains Hetherington.
“Codes vary with location—each state, county, city and town can have their own specialized codes for things like electricity, plumbing, construction and fire,” notes Hetherington. Typically, each code or permit requires separate inspections and inspectors.
“Too often, people decide to avoid getting permits because they think they are saving time and money, as cities do charge a fee for issuing permits,” explains Hetherington. Plus, work done with a building permit can result in an increase in the homeowners’ property taxes because a home improvement often increases the assessed value of the property. However, the extra precautionary step is vital and ensures that you will be avoiding extra hassles down the road.
“If you fail to get a necessary permit before you begin a project, the result could be disastrous,” warns Hetherington. The repercussions could include hefty fines, or having your new deck or that bonus room above the garage torn down due to improper construction or zoning. Taking the time to check on your local building codes and obtain a permit will help ensure your renovation project goes smoothly.
CENTURY 21 New Millennium. Smarter. Bolder. Faster.
CENTURY 21 New Millennium, www.c21nm.com, is a full service real estate brokerage company specializing in residential and luxury properties. The Virginia locations are in Alexandria, Centreville, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Gainesville, McLean, Stafford, and Woodbridge. The Maryland offices are located in Annapolis, Dunkirk, La Plata, Lexington Park and Lusby. Its core services include: mortgage financing, investing, settlement services, property management, property insurance, global relocation assistance, and commercial real estate.