Basement Finishing: Permit Me to Explain

So you’re thinking about doing that basement finishing project without pulling a permit, eh?

Well, before you do, consider this…

Permits for basement finishing efforts are required by statute or ordinance almost everywhere. As a homeowner, if you are caught without a permit either during or after your basement finishing project, you will be fined at a minimum. Even worse, you could be forced to demolish all or portions of your project to allow for inspections, and then be forced to re-complete the project within a certain time period, regardless of available funds.

Aside from the doom and gloom, there are several very good reasons for getting a permit for your basement finishing project.

What Advantages Come with Having a Permit for Your Basement Finishing Project?

Number one, it can add significant value to your home. I fully recognize this is also an argument against pulling a permit. Yes, the valuation of your home will increase — meaning that your property taxes are likely to increase. However, when it comes time to sell the home, a savvy buyer will value homes with un-permitted (and thus un-inspected) basement finishing elements less than ones that were properly finished.

Your basement finishing project has added square footage, a bedroom, maybe a bathroom, and could potentially add tens of thousands of dollars or more to the sale price of your home when it comes time. Without a permit, that value could vanish!

Second, a basement finishing contractor who encourages you to move forward without a permit may not want you to discover that he is unlicensed. In most areas, unlicensed contractors are not able to obtain building permits. This should alert you to potential fraud or substandard building practices.

A Permit can Help Ensure Quality in Your Basement Finishing Project

Third, while the occasional building inspector may be difficult to work with, believe it or not he is looking out for your best interest. The inspector verifies that your basement finishing contractor has included all health and safety elements, and that the construction is done according to building codes and best practices.

Are there disadvantages to having a permit? Yes, but they are extremely over-stated. The advantages are a benefit to you and your basement finishing project that shouldn’t be ignored.

Building more…

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