Before you break ground on your dream home, it’s important to have filed all the necessary paperwork with your local municipality.
Before you break ground on your dream home, it’s important to have filed all the necessary paperwork with your local municipality. Permits communicate to the local government exactly what you’re building and ensure that your home follows the rules and regulations of the area.
Permits are official allowances from your local government to complete projects on existing homes or to build a new one, stating that the proposed project falls within the safety guidelines.
It's important to remember that each municipality will have its own rules and regulations, so the first step in the building process is to consult with your local building and zoning board to gather the complete list of permits you’ll need before you start construction.
Once you’ve submitted the required documents and information and paid the fee, the permit will be issued. If you’re working with a licensed and experienced contractor, they will pull the permits for you. However, if you file them yourself—which is legal—you’ll be the contractor as far as the government is concerned, which means you’re liable for any issues that arise while the home is under construction.
Inspections are conducted at various points throughout the construction process, and then again at the end to ensure that your property and home are up-to-code and that the permits were followed.
Generally speaking, to build a new home you’ll need to secure a structural or building permit, an electrical permit, a plumbing permit, and a mechanical permit. A grading permit might also be required, depending on your property.
The filing process for these permits is straightforward: Just submit the appropriate paperwork to your local building and zoning office. This office is your best resource for the most accurate information for your area.
Building permit: A building permit covers the entirety of your build. You’ll need to provide contact information; a site plan that details the property lines and dimensions; the address of the new home; a blueprint of the proposed building; a list of all materials that will be used; an estimated budget; a proposed timeline; and a list of contractors, architects, and any subcontractors (plumbers, electricians, mechanical engineers, HVAC installers, etc.) that you’ll be working with.
Electrical permit: You’ll need to share a blueprint of the home, with the electrical plan included, to secure an electrical permit. You’ll need to show where every outlet will be located and how the wiring will be installed. The electrical permit will typically be handled by your electrician.
Plumbing permit: A plumbing permit covers all things relevant to plumbing and pipes, including the installation of sewers and septic systems, water servicing, and drainage pipes. You’ll need to provide a list of all items that will be installed.
Mechanical permit: A mechanical permit deals with heating and ventilation. It covers the installation of your heating and cooling system (HVAC unit), fireplaces, stoves, gas piping, and exhaust fans around the home. You’ll need to share the material/what is being installed and how much.
Grading permit: If you plan to level your property or conduct any land-disturbing activities, you’ll need to file a grading permit. This document prevents water runoff from causing flooding or other issues for your property or your neighbor’s. A surveyor will analyze the topography of your property, assess any potential issues, and provide direction on how your builder should proceed.
If you plan to install a pool or another structure on your property, you may need additional permits.
Each permit will come with its own cost. Make sure to include permit fees in your overall budget, keeping in mind that costs will vary depending on the particular permit and the area where you’re building.
Official permits ensure that your home is safe from structural issues, as well as from fire and electrical hazards.
Don’t skip this step. Doing so risks expensive fines and penalties, and may even mean having to tear down an existing structure and start over again once you’ve pulled the proper permits. Also, if you experience a fire, plumbing catastrophe, or structural issue without obtaining the right permits first, your insurance company will not cover the claims.
You want your home to be a safe building. You want to make cost-efficient decisions. You want to make sure your family and investment are protected. Save yourself the stress and potential cost that comes from not following your local municipality’s rules properly.
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