What does a building/alteration permit cover?

1 Reply

I am working on a full renovation. I have a GC, and he's gotten the following permits: Interior Demolition, Alteration/Building, HVAC, Plumbing, and Electric. Initially, I didn't have a lot of exterior work scoped out, so my GC wasn't doing a whole lot outside the house. Since Winter, I've run into some leak issues, and I need to hire contractors to replace a roof, add downspouts, and repair a rear fence. My GC is willing to do it, but I'd rather save some money and source the work myself. Plus, it'll allow him to focus 100% on the interior. I have spoken to lots of fully licensed/insured sub-contractors in my area who specialize in roofs, fences, etc. I've gotten into the contract phase with some of them, and I have found that no one is planning to pull permits. They have all indicated that they definitely can pull permits if I want, but usually for "self-contained, small projects" such as adding a new layer of rolled roofing, they typically do not bother. I asked my GC if this would be a problem for him during future inspections, and he told me it won't be because we already have a building/alteration permit, and it typically covers a lot more than is actually written into the 2-3 sentences that are in the permit. I've also looked up permit records for lots of renovations in my area. I have never come across a specific permit for something like a new fence, new layer of rolled roofing, etc. Everyone who completed a major renovation seems to only have the building/alteration permit along with MEP, demo, etc. Admittedly, the city does have specific permit forms for everything that I'm trying to do, I've just never seen them used when someone also has a Building/Alteration permit.

What do you think? Will a building/alteration permit cover some of these exterior projects, or is my contractor wrong, and I would be taking on lots of risk by not applying for the specific permits? Thanks for the input.

Hi Alex

I have two rules: 1. Do it by the book, so if the city requires a permit, get a permit. You've already pulled the building permit and generally all you have to do is tell them what you're doing with that permit. The fact that they have specific forms for specific things indicates that they want to know when you're doing those specific things.   :) If you have pulled permits, you're going to have to have inspections anyway. And there is nothing worse than having an inspector come in and tell you that you weren't authorized to do something that you did, and you now need to remove it and start again. They can do that.  

My second rule is never consult with a contractor on my business. I consult with contractors on the actual things that they are repairing, but not how to do business or what the best course of action is with legal matters. Many contractors don't want to pull permits,  because it also means they have to get inspections and can't cut corners. A contractor who has no issue with pulling a permit is usually a good contractor. And, I would be sure to put in my scope of work on my contract that a condition of getting paid is that the permit inspection is passed. And point it out to them when they sign.

Good luck to you!

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