Flipping Permit Questions

3 Replies

Hi BP Members! 

I jumped in rather quickly and bought a fixer upper a few months ago. Didn’t really understand anything about permits, except to get one for the dumpster on the road. I’ve pretty much fixed everything up already;  the roof, new walls, new electric, and HVAC. The inspector called and met me, telling me I need a structural permit and now learning I need a million other permits. I’m lost on what to do. Do I file these permits even though the home repairs are already completed? Thanks for your help in advance. 

@Austin Dickey Good day, this situation can go a lot of different ways. All of which depend on the sub code officials governing each trade in the town. Since, you mentioned you have no knowledge of permits and how they work, let’s go over that first.

The purpose of the building department is to ensure that the construction of any structure within their jurisdiction is performed to a minimum set of standards. These standards were written in the best interest of safe construction that will last for years, i.e.- the foundation will hold the structure above it, the electric is installed in accordance with the National Electric Code, etc.

When a property owner decides to renovate a property, inspections are performed before the Sheetrock installed. These are called rough inspections, and they are performed by sub code officials that govern over the framing, plumbing, and electrical. Upon approval after these inspections, the owner then gets Sheetrock installed, throws up some paint, install cabinets and then the various trades come in and perform their finish work. The sub code officials then come back and give the owner approval after their respective final inspections.

This is where your issues will arise, since you completed the job and you did not file permits for any of the trades that performed work. You are at the mercy of the sub code officials governing your jurisdiction. The only tips I can give you without being hands on in the situation, is remain respectful and professional at all points in time. They might tell you some things that you do not want to hear, when they do, remain calm, and always ask for the best way to work with them.

Please keep us posted on your situation. Best of luck.

Since you did not get permits and do the work, how you interact with the inspector can go a long way.  They could say, what we can see looks ok, and leave it at that.  They could make you remove everything you have done, and start over with proper permits.  They could say, we want to see this that this exists, for instance, you said you put a new roof on, they could make you take a row of shingles off to see the ice and water shield meet code.  It could go a whole lot of ways, depending on the inspector, and how respectful you are with them.  

I know someone who replaced a picture window in a house without a permit.  The inspector drove by and saw the work being done.  That person had to get a permit for the work, the fine was double the cost of what it would have been had he got the permit.

I just read an article about someone who put a new metal roof on a house, and did not get a permit.  The inspector showed up, and according to city code, you can't have the fasteners for the roof showing, which his were.  He went to the city council to get a variance to keep his roof.  They turned down the variance request.  He had to get a permit for the roof he had just put on, remove that roof,  and put a new roof on that the fasteners weren't showing.

The other thing to think about, some areas I work in, unless it is my owner occupied house, I can't do any work that requires a permit unless I am a licensed contractor, and if it involves electrical or HVAC, I have to bring in a licensed electrical or HVAC contractor, and they have to pull the permits.   I don't know what the rules are in your area, but that could also be an issue.

You are going to have to meet with the inspector, ask for details on what he is going to require of you, and do it, or you could run into a lot more legal problems.