Bad advice about building permits

Who really needs a permit anyway?

I’m starting to get really upset when so-called professionals in the building industry give poor advice to clients. Twice this week I’ve heard contractors, yes, contractors, who are professionals in the BUILDING industry, tell clients that they can start construction without a Building PERMIT. Or even worse, that the owner doesn’t even need a permit!! “No problem, we’ll just build it”, they say.

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, for one thing, IT’S ILLEGAL! You have to get permission. Yes, BEFORE you begin construction. The Building Code is a part of the legal framework of our civilized society and exists for a reason: to ensure public safety. YOUR safety!

The process helps ensure that what you want to build, in the way you want to build it, is safe. Who is willing to accept legal responsibility for an unsafe building? Not me, that’s for sure.

Who really needsĀ a Stop-Work order?

Here’s another thing. Maybe you agree you need a permit, but it takes sooo long and every day you wait is costing you money and so you start construction now, while the application is “in the system”.

What happens if the permit issuing people want to see it built a different way, but you’ve already built it the way you thought it should be built? These guys are called “Authorities Having Jurisdiction” for a reason; they have Authority to make you change things! In fact, they can issue what’s called a Stop Work order, and if you thought waiting was expensive before, try sending all the sub-trades home for a few weeks, after they’ve already started work at your site. And then try getting them back again.

It always takes time and money to change something after the fact. Who’s going to pay for it? The contractor? The City’s building department? That’s right, the Owner.

Do the right thing

OK to be fair, yes, the Powers That Be are not always expedient at issuing permits, and the people who are responsible are not always accommodating from a common sense point of view, but a Building Permit is not simply an obstacle to avoid, like the speed limit, or the Ten Commandments. It really is a necessary part of the process, so come to terms with it, work with it, and do things the right way.

Don’t let anyone counsel you otherwise.

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2 Responses to Bad Advice About Building Permits

  1. Pastor Joe says:

    I am new to this all I know how to do is preach the Gospel and see lives saved and transformed but have no building experience. We are a small country church in the mountains of Pa. I like what you said about the need for B permits.
    My question is. Do we need the plans before getting the permit, or do we just go and ask for one? What comes first the chicken or the egg? lol.
    The building and leadership boards are meeting with a local architect tomorrow 5/16/2014. ( Murray Miller from out of Kingston PA USA) to see if this is the guy for us. I’m doing a lot of praying.
    thank God for your “YOUTUBE” video I ran into, and your site, it’s very helpful. Pastor Joe Gandia. Beaumont Free Methodist Church.

    • Yes, most municipalities will require plans before issuing a building permit. It may be a good idea to ask your local planning and building department what information they will need, as well as what their process is and how long it will take. Your architect will also be able to advise you about the approvals process.
      Glad you found our site helpful, and thanks for visiting!

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