Getting City Permits and Doing the Work Yourself

85 Replies

@Matthew B.  - Negative.

If you have three years of credits (you don't even need a degree) from an accredited college level course and one year experience as a foreman you can apply for the license.

If you have a construction related degree you only need one year of proven experience (doesn't have to be as a foreman) and you can apply for the license.

Here is the application from myfloridalicense.com

I'll see you at the "New Residential Contractor's Certification Gala Dinner" next year :)  Both of us with our fancy business degrees and all!

@Travis Hamilton  

Interesting. I must have read that wrong. I guess I need to find a contractor to buddy up with!

So @Matthew B. the answer you want to hear is just skip the permit and install the wondows yourself. Who will ever know right? 

As I was told years ago, if you don't know what something is about, it is probably about (you guessed it) MONEY. It's a shame you can't do the work yourself legally. There is too much babysitting and hand holding going on in the USA. Of course you have to pay for that babysitting. 

Go to Europe and depending on the country things are much different. My wild guess is that it is different in the USA because 

1. It's all about money 

2. USA is a lawsuit happy country.

I know people who have legally bought apartments in Poland, renovated them by themselves and rented them out. Nobody died. The work done is top notch. Everybody is happy. 

There are times when hiring a GC will kill a deal. It's truly sad if you know how to do the work yourself. Buy a house, pay cash, at the end somebody comes over and tells you what you can and can't do and there is nothing you can do about it. Say no, and you will be fined.

Originally posted by @Matthew B. :

I have two duplexes that need the windows replaced. Me and my Dad are planning on doing the work ourselves since we know how to do it and we can save a substantial amount of money. The problem is getting a permit from the city. They only allow you to do the work yourself if you plan on living in the property. They require investors to have the work performed by contractors.

How would I go about handling this if I want to do the work myself? The contractors I've talked to want a ridiculous amount of money to replace windows. Can I pay a contractor to pull a permit and sign off on the job? Has anyone figured out a way to make this work?

This law is complete illogical BS. The city permitting department doesn't even know the reason for it, other than "that's just the way it is".

 Hello!  You will have trouble at not following the City laws no matter how rediculous they might be.  Cities require that as a way to raise money and work with legal entities have insurance and supposedly know what they are doing.  Short of getting the law changed before you do the work you will have to do what is legal, no matter how it seems.  That should be the part of your Due Diligence.  Good luck!

Originally posted by @Matthew B. :

3) There are only 2 solutions to my issue. Either get a contractors license or hire a contractor.
4) No one can make a logical argument for why Harry Homeowner can pull a permit for his own house and not for his rental property next door.

3) No, as @rob beland stated, skip the permit and install the windows yourself... it's not a solution I recommend, but it is a solution and in the time wasted in this thread, you could've replaced some of them.  If you're looking for a way to circumvent the licensing requirement, why not the permit process too?

4) Logical argument about government regulations... seriously??  I agree that the requirement is bizarre, but it exists.  It's a legislative issue, which therefore means it may very well lack common sense.

As I stated in another thread earlier today, neither a license or a permit will ensure that the work will be done well or even in compliance with the law.  Equally, not having either does not ensure that the work is of poor quality.

Compliance with policy has nothing to do with the quality of the work.

Originally posted by @Matthew B. :

@Aaron McGinnis  

I understand what you're saying about the insurance. They'll try anything they can to get out of paying a claim. They'll most likely sue the electrician and his insurance company.

My point is that the inspector comes out and inspects either way. His job is to make sure the work was done up to code. The only difference is who does the work. The end result is the same.

If we are to trust inspectors to know how things are supposed to be done and we are to believe that the purpose of the inspectors is to protect the public, then it shouldn't matter who performs the work. It's either up to code or not up to code. It's the inspector's job to know the difference.

Either force homeowners to hire contractors to pull permits or allow investors to pull permits without a contractor. The current system is contradictory and illogical.

If the purpose of the law is to create a bigger target to go after in the case of a lawsuit (i.e. the insurance policy of the contractor), then what about the houses with homeowner jobs that are passed by inspectors and then sold on the market? Why not require investors to carry insurance policies similar to those of the contractor?

In the case of either the homeowner job or the contractor job, the inspector has the final say on whether the work performed is safe, and the inspector is the one who should be held responsible if the work is later found to be faulty. But then again good luck getting the government to take responsibility for anything.

 They care more about creating jobs and middlemen than fueling innovation and efficiency. 

Originally posted by @Travis Hamilton :

@Matthew B.  - Negative.

If you have three years of credits (you don't even need a degree) from an accredited college level course and one year experience as a foreman you can apply for the license.

If you have a construction related degree you only need one year of proven experience (doesn't have to be as a foreman) and you can apply for the license.

Here is the application from myfloridalicense.com

I'll see you at the "New Residential Contractor's Certification Gala Dinner" next year :)  Both of us with our fancy business degrees and all!

 Is this just Florida? I was a civil engineer for two years working in the field. I want to do my work in NJ

@Patrick Martone I'm not sure about other states. It's like this everywhere in Florida that I know of.

Did your window replacement involves any LBP? I am in the same situation and my duplex needs windows but the city requires a permit because it's a rental. I've already bought the windows to the tune of 4k. I'm just worried having them installed with permits and all will be way more than I expect in labor. 

@Samantha Klein No lead-based paint on ours... they were built in 1980. 

Recently we've found out that the fine for doing work without a permit varies by the municipality. Some cities issue a fine equal to the cost of the improvements (i.e. if the windows cost $4k, the fine is another $4k) and some cities and the county only charge double the permit fee. For those that only charge double the permit fee, we just do the work and see if they catch us. If so, it's usually only $250 instead of $125 or something. Not bad!

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