What kind of work do you pull permits for?

10 Replies

Flippers, rehabers, brrrr and rental investors, I'm curious to know what everyone else is doing; what do you, and what don't you pull permits for? Particularly investors in Hawaii... 

For me, I've never pulled a permit except on a deck. I've mostly done condos and haven't even considered pulling permits on those rehabs. 

Loaded question @Greg Gaudet.  It totally depends on your local development code.  Good bet Is to contact city hall and find out what you need permits to do.  In my markets, I need to pull permits anytime I'm changing the structure of the home I'm working on and my contracts have to pull electrical, plumbing, and HVAC permits for every project where I change them out.    

Talk to your local building Dept/code enforcement. In short you need permits for anything you need permits for. 

It will most likely come back to haunt you some day if you don't pull permits. 

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I recently pulled a permit to upgrade electrical service from 60 amp to 150 amp. In Florida, my son had to get a permit to put in a fence, put in a tin prefab carport, change out an HVAC unit, have a prefab storage building which we dragged over from the neighbor's house, etc.

Here in rural Georgia, there's lots of things that are "supposed" to be permitted but rarely are. It all comes down to your local jurisdiction and what they require (and enforce). Some places you have to get a permit to re-shingle a roof, some places not. There's no one answer.

@John Teachout and @George W.

Absolutely, totally agree. I should have worded it more like “what do you pull permits for in your market”.

In my market we don’t need permits for fencing, but we do for roofs. 

Basically permits are required here for anything that alters the structural integrity of a buidling. We don’t need permits for replacing cabinets or flooring, but we do for taking down walls/changing the layout, plumbing, etc. 

John from your comment it sounds like my market may be on the looser side with permitting requirements. 

I’m also curious how challenging other markets are to obtain permits. Specifically, how long does it usually take to get a permit in your market? 

around here some are very strict, yet some are part-time Bldg Inspectors & more laid back.

I personally wanted to upgrade the electric from 100amp to 200amp at our Lakehouse, so I had to pull the meter & run all new 200amp to the pole, new 200amp panel & breakers. So I called the Town Bldg Insp for a permit.

"don't need one" he replied

"but it's dangerous work" I said

"haven't lost anyone yet" was his reply

So after completing the upgrade & rewiring the entire Lakehouse I called a State Inspector. $54 & he approved it all. Sent a copy to my Ins Carrier & the town.

The permit issue around here varies from county to county. There are some nearby locales that we don't (won't) invest in because the county has a reputation for being really anal about just about everything related to building/zoning. Other places are pretty laid back. I'm currently working on an old mill house that had such severe termite damage to the kitchen and bathroom (an add on from the original structure) that we had to completely remove it. ie, it's down to dirt now. I informed the building/zoning department that our repair was necessitating complete reconstruction of this part of the house. They didn't even make us pull a permit for that but did say they wanted to inspect it when we were done. I showed them what we were doing when they inspected the electrical upgrade.

The main reason for building permits is to ensure that work is accomplished to standards/codes. The secondary reason is a source of revenue for the municipality. Whether a permit is pulled or whether it's required or not should not affect the quality of workmanship of a project. Anything we do to a property is done with skill and knowledge. 

Permits for electric service and panel upgrade seem to be a must have in L.A. LADWP has to run the line from the pole to the house. So, our electrician pulled permits for the panel, but not for the new circuits they put in the new kitchen. Plumbers pulled permits to copper repipe, not for sewer repair. Add a room, you should get a permit for it.

People do lots and lots of work without "benefit" of permits here. A kitchen or bath remodel is supposed to have a permit. Even things like cabinets. Just anecdotally from what I see, most folks don't bother. Maybe they do not see the benefit and the city is pretty slack about it. Other nearby cities are tighter or looser. You have to know your jurisdiction.

@Greg Gaudet

Pull permits for whatever your town/area requires. It hurts during renovations, but it hurts worse when it’s already done and you end up like the guy last week with walls up and the the inspector comes knocking.

Originally posted by @Lee Bell:
Permits for electric service and panel upgrade seem to be a must have in L.A. LADWP has to run the line from the pole to the house. So, our electrician pulled permits for the panel, but not for the new circuits they put in the new kitchen. Plumbers pulled permits to copper repipe, not for sewer repair. Add a room, you should get a permit for it.

People do lots and lots of work without "benefit" of permits here. A kitchen or bath remodel is supposed to have a permit. Even things like cabinets. Just anecdotally from what I see, most folks don't bother. Maybe they do not see the benefit and the city is pretty slack about it. Other nearby cities are tighter or looser. You have to know your jurisdiction.

Interesting! LA dictates that you shall pull permits for a kitchen or bath remodel? I knew I'd hear some interesting feedback on this post! I'm sure that requirement has been skipped MANY times! lol 

We also have a whoooole lot of unpermitted work on my island. Due to the high cost of living, and the limited supply of housing, it's very common for property owners to break a SFH up into a duplex, triplex... sometimes even 5,6 or more units. Every time one of those hits the MLS you see "home may be non-conforming" or "floor plan may not match tax records, some improvements may not be permitted" etc. I could probably count on one hand the number of those SFH MFs I've seen that said all improvements permitted.

I'm actually working with a seller right now that has a SFH built in 1980 as a 1,000 sq ft 2/1 and now it's a 2,200 sq ft 2/1, 1/1, and a second story added on top with another 1/1. This one is super unique in that the two added units were both permitted! Sales price is higher than I would like, 560k, but gross potential rents are about 5k/month and ARV is about 700k (it's not in really bad shape, but pretty original except the new second story. I'd like to put 40k in to put new floors, kitchens and baths). But the fact that everything is permitted should add a little more to the ARV.. maybe 725k.. Still pretty tight numbers so IDK yet...