Should you pull a permit for a basement remodel?

Winny

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2023
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I was going down a Reddit rabbit hole recently and found a question that I think you guys would find to be informative. The person took to Reddit to ask about a basement remodel they are planning to do soon. The amount of work planned involves insulating, framing, drywall, flooring, adding a subpanel, moving a washer & dryer, replacing a water heater with a tankless water heater, and adding plumbing for a half bath.

They want to know if they should go through the process of having a detailed plan draw up and pay any permit fees, which are estimated around $2,000 in total. There are concerns about increasing property taxes and the idea that their local building department might be difficult to work with. They want to weigh the pros and cons of obtaining a permit, especially if they ever decide to sell the house later on.

You can find the reddit post here if you're interested in taking a look - Reddit
 
Location
United States
On the one hand, altering the basement can affect the whole structure above it, because it usually messes with the foundation. It's good to make sure that it's done correctly, so there aren't problems down the road. I'd get the permit and have an inspection, in this case. On the other hand, as long as the work is done correctly, it might not affect the owner until they're ready to sell it. If it's their forever home, that's even less reason to bother with the permit.
 
Yeah probably best to be on the safe side and pull the necessary permits. You want to make sure everything is done within code, though not just about following regulations, it's also meant to ensure safety and integrity of your house. I know it's not an easy process to take on, especially with it possibly being quite costly. But, with the peace of mind knowing that things are inspected and approved on is highly important here.

And when you ever decide to sell the house later, obtaining a permit should help move the process along faster. It should result in more interest from buyers, especially when you take the time to adhere to the building codes. Plus, skipping on the permit process could lead to future issues down the road, including fines, or being forced to undo any work that is discovered to be unpermitted.

So yeah, get the permit. You don't want to end up being sorry about it later, or not be able to sell your house either.
 
Imagine spending thousands of dollars on a remodel project, but then balk at paying for the permit to ensure it's up to code. Penny wise, but pound foolish comes to mind.
 
On the one hand, altering the basement can affect the whole structure above it, because it usually messes with the foundation. It's good to make sure that it's done correctly, so there aren't problems down the road. I'd get the permit and have an inspection, in this case. On the other hand, as long as the work is done correctly, it might not affect the owner until they're ready to sell it. If it's their forever home, that's even less reason to bother with the permit.
Thanks for the response. That is certainly something I would have to keep in mind. Any remodeling that involved the houses foundation is a risk. So having a permit for those type of jobs makes sense. And that's a good point about a forever home, if you make changes a permit in that regard is probably not needed.
Yeah probably best to be on the safe side and pull the necessary permits. You want to make sure everything is done within code, though not just about following regulations, it's also meant to ensure safety and integrity of your house. I know it's not an easy process to take on, especially with it possibly being quite costly. But, with the peace of mind knowing that things are inspected and approved on is highly important here.

And when you ever decide to sell the house later, obtaining a permit should help move the process along faster. It should result in more interest from buyers, especially when you take the time to adhere to the building codes. Plus, skipping on the permit process could lead to future issues down the road, including fines, or being forced to undo any work that is discovered to be unpermitted.

So yeah, get the permit. You don't want to end up being sorry about it later, or not be able to sell your house either.
Thanks! I think in this case you're right. It's best to make sure your back is covered so that in case of emergency, you're fully covered from any problems. I figure with basement remodels you want to make sure you're fully protected, even from possible damage and even injury. Who knows what can happen with remodels sometimes.
 
I can see a major problem with obtaining insurance on the home in the future. It's much easier to simply comply with the regulations. Pull the permit and give yourself enough time for it to be approved before starting work.
 
Absolutely, pulling a permit for a basement remodel is crucial. It ensures compliance with safety codes, protects against potential hazards, and avoids legal issues down the line. Plus, it enhances property value and provides peace of mind. Therefore, even when you are doing small remodeling, always go through regulatory compliance and legal process.
 
On the one hand, altering the basement can affect the whole structure above it, because it usually messes with the foundation. It's good to make sure that it's done correctly, so there aren't problems down the road. I'd get the permit and have an inspection, in this case. On the other hand, as long as the work is done correctly, it might not affect the owner until they're ready to sell it. If it's their forever home, that's even less reason to bother with the permit.
If there are not permits and inspections obtained your insurance company can terminate your homeowner's insurance and disallow claims. Even if this is your "Forever" home, you are leaving the unpermitted mess for your heirs to deal with.
 
Getting the permit would probably be a good idea as remodelling the whole basement could damage the house's structure upstairs.

The permit will protect you against hazards, and some potential legal issues.
 
Getting the permit would probably be a good idea as remodelling the whole basement could damage the house's structure upstairs.

The permit will protect you against hazards, and some potential legal issues.
A property recently listed for sale had a newer basement conversion without permits. The ceiling height is just over 5' and there are no windows/doors for egress. Checking with the local jurisdiction would have prevented them from spending money on remodeling an area that cannot be used as habitable space. They could no longer sell the property with the added 600sqft and kudos to the agent for checking the permit history prevented her potential purchaser from this issue. It most likely would have been caught by the appraiser or home inspector, but not always.
 
A property recently listed for sale had a newer basement conversion without permits. The ceiling height is just over 5' and there are no windows/doors for egress. Checking with the local jurisdiction would have prevented them from spending money on remodeling an area that cannot be used as habitable space. They could no longer sell the property with the added 600sqft and kudos to the agent for checking the permit history prevented her potential purchaser from this issue. It most likely would have been caught by the appraiser or home inspector, but not always.

I really wonder what sorts of conversations were had between the homeowner and contractor in these situations. I had a violation where the homeowner hired a contractor to basically devegetate and grade an entire channel and surrounding upland behind their house. It was a pretty clear Clean Water Act violation and even more severe CDFW (state-level) violation for anyone familiar with the applicable environmental laws. I attempted to call and email the contractor to ask for details but never got a response (no surprise there). I know responsibility ultimately falls on the homeowner but I do feel like the contractor should bear legal consequences in at least some cases. Especially if it's ever found that they intentionally misinformed/misled the homeowner.
 
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