Penalties can be levied for those who refuse to comply with the law. The Building Division would rather see a building conform to the code than punish a homeowner. If a homeowner discovers that they did not obtain a permit when required, they do not necessarily have to tear the project down and start over. If the alteration can meet the applicable codes, they will be approved.
Our inspectors won't necessarily approve something they cannot see and may require small sections of wall or roof covering be removed to verify the construction meets the code. There can be no guarantee that some changes may need to be made, and some may not be easy to accomplish.