Question about pulling building permit as the homeowner

14 Replies

I purchased a single family home in the suburbs just north of Boston- approximately 1300 sq ft/ 3BR,1BA and I'm in the process of gutting it. I went to get a building permit from the town as the "home owner" and they said that since I purchased the home under my LLC, they want me to sign an affidavit stating that I intend to live in the home once the project is complete. They said that if I'm not going to live there, then a contractor must pull the permit. I'm pretty much subbing everything out but it will cost me another $500+ for a contractor to pull the permit. What if I just say I changed my mind and decided to sell it? Has anyone else ever run into this?

@Glenn English

Absolutely. This is exactly how it works almost anywhere. You have to be the owner-occupant or a contractor to pull permits almost anywhere. You need to ask how long they're insisting you live in the home after the project and fulfill that requirement. This may be the first time you've run into this but it won't be the last. Pay the contractor, especially now that you've made your thoughts on this a matter of public record by publishing them here.

The time may increase on Inspections but a Stop work order ,for not filing a building permit ,will be greater. Here in Atlanta, if you paint your entire exterior of your house you have to file a permit. The clause is if the renovation is over $2500 in cost you have to file a permit. Yes, its basically a tax. They don’t inspect. Play ball, but look closely at the loopholes. Simple renovations many times for dust and fluffs will not require inspections but a permit is required at a minor fee. 

Originally posted by @Jim K. :

@Glenn English

Absolutely. This is exactly how it works almost anywhere. You have to be the owner-occupant or a contractor to pull permits almost anywhere. You need to ask how long they're insisting you live in the home after the project and fulfill that requirement. This may be the first time you've run into this but it won't be the last. Pay the contractor, especially now that you've made your thoughts on this a matter of public record by publishing them here.

That was not how it worked in my last or even my current market. I have pulled many permits as a non owner occupant, non contractor. The answer is, the town/city/state make the rules.

If you actually intend to live there, then sign the affidavit and get to it. If you know you plan to sell it, bite the $500 bullet and pay a contractor. $500 is cheap in the REI game to make sure you aren't causing yourself larger headaches later down the road.

Originally posted by @Jim K. :

@Brian Pulaski

Learned my new something today bright and early, I guess!

It changes market to market and even town to town. I have heard places like certain areas of FL require permits through licensed contractors if you are repairing over a certain (small) percentage of drywall, and even painting.

I always recommend discussing with the town/building inspector before you even go after a property. The last thing you need is to crunch numbers on doing the work yourself, just to find out you need to pay a contractor to do it all and your budget is gone before day one. Once speaking with the "powers that be" I always recommend following what they tell you to do. 

In California, you can pull permits as owner-builder - although I think you're limited to how many you can do per year. I did so recently with my property under an LLC.

@Glenn English pretty standard rule in most of the country. If you are not living there, then licensed contractors need to pull permits and do the work. You are supposed to permit work before demolition. My advice is to follow the rules and don’t deceive them on your intent.

Thanks for the input. I agree to spend $500 isn't breaking the bank..but unfortunately, his price has gone way up after he realized I wasn't going to use him for the whole project and was going to do some work myself. It made me realize that getting my construction supervisor's license may be a good idea if I'm going to continue to do rehabs. One of many lessons learned on this particular project...

The general rule is if you are a company then you are required to be a licensed contractor for liability and quality assurance. This is something most people do not know. Any new building, remodel or otherwise must be guaranteed for structural ingrity and insured for up to ten years after the house is sold. This is why most municipalities now require a contractor buy the permits. You should still be able to buy the permits provided you list the contractors that will be doing the work. Take copies of all of you contracts if you still wish to purchase your own permits. However, this is just general information and I cannot speak for your own particular building department and their policies. I mostly worked in California and almost always purchased the building permits myself but then again I have also always been a licensed general building contractor as well not just the building owner. 

I know that when I did work of other contractors we always charged the client for the time it took us to go buy the permits. 

I do not know how beneficial it might be to you but you might consider reviewing your entire project and see if there isn't somewhere you can shave off $500,00 worth to cover the cost of having a contractor buy the permits.

And here I sit, with sage advice. Hire the licensed contractor to oversee the job and ensure work is performed to code. That will satisfy the inspectors and they will leave you alone. It was suggested by my lender that I pull as the homeowner since neither of my two contractors are state certified and that line had to be completed to close the loan. GA requires state certification, which I didn't know. Newbie me from FL, pulled permits as homeowner. Then as you say, inspector saw the LLC on the deed and required I sign an affidavit to live there for two years. At that point, the clock was ticking and I was about to lose my crews to other projects. So, I signed. The inspector knew what I was doing because I was honest with him. But, his team screwed with me throughout the entire process and delayed the job multiple times. Cost thousands in carrying costs. I didn't know at the time I could hire a licensed contractor to oversee work. My contractors did amazing work, never a problem. But, the inspectors kept coming up with additional code requirements that they normally don't require. Old paint on the outlets! LEDs required in the closets! No extraneous items in the attic! So, its on the market now. The result will be that they don't let me pull a permit in the town for two years. Not a problem, because I'll hire a licensed contractor in the future, a painful lesson learned.