Obtaining a building permit is one of the first steps in beginning any large scale home improvement project. Most local governments require a building permit for projects that exceed a certain dollar amount. Often times when a client asks me if there are any tasks they can do to cut costs on a project I suggest they secure their own building permits.
I suggest that they work on the building permit process because it can be time consuming and therefore expensive. Obtaining building permits typically consists of supplying the building code official with the following:
- Scaled drawings of your project. Depending on the type of project you’re building the number and complexity of these drawings will vary. If you’re adding a deck or addition you’ll need a plot plan showing property boundaries and setbacks. You will also need drawings of the structure showing typical framing, details, etc.
- If you’re building a new home or adding an addition you may be required to supply some type of energy code calculations. Most states now require that new construction meet minimum energy code requirements for insulation, heating and cooling equipment and door and windows.
- Building permit applications – typically one application for each trade. So you may have an electrical permit, plumbing permit, HVAC permit, septic design, etc. Most of those permits will need to be signed by the electrician, plumber, etc.
- Fees – Don’t forget the fees. Typically building permit fees are based on the size and cost of the project. Here in our town you pay a basic fee plus so many dollars per square foot of each type of construction, living, storage, decks, etc. Each of the mechanical permits typically have a flat rate associated with them.
The most important step in obtaining a building permit is taking the time to sit down and meet with your local building officials to find out what information is required. Taking the time to research what the requirements are will go a long way in obtaining the building permit in a timely fashion. Most building officials are very informative and helpful explaining current building code requirements.
So if you want to be your own general contractor the permit process will be your first major task.