Do I really need a permit to install a water heater or build a patio cover? My Uncle Joe was a builder for 30 years and he says I don’t need one. These are just a few of the questions I hear every week as Chief Building Official for Sacramento County.
Most of us never think about the fact that an engineer, architect, or builder, designed our homes and offices to be safe; or that the building was inspected to insure it was constructed according to an “approved” set of building plans which means the plans met the minimum California Building Code requirements.
Counties and cities issue building permits because they ensure that construction or remodeling work meets the minimum requirements of the California Building Codes which promise a reasonable degree of safety.
Would you buy a house knowing it was not inspected or had an unpermitted addition? Without a permit how you would know if:
the work was done properly
the walls were properly insulated
the electrical work safe
the plumbing pipes are the right size
the gas piping was tested
the homeowners insurance covers unpermitted work
you could resell the house without the permits.
Work done without permits is illegal work, adds no value to a home, and may become a liability. Most financial institutions will not finance a house with illegal work and appraisers usually measure the square footage and check it with County Assessor’s records. If they do not match, you have multiple problems:
obtaining “As-Built” permits for unpermitted work may be expensive
if the work does not meet the minimum California Building Code requirements it will need to be corrected to meet code requirements
sometimes the work is done so poorly it cannot meet Code requirements and has to be demolished.
Obtaining a permit ensures that the work is done correctly, is safe for you and your family, provides peace of mind while using the property and enhances your ability when it comes time to sell it. Spending a little now to ensure safe and legal work may prove to be the best money you ever spend.