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The purpose behind building codes is to give reasonable assurance that a home is safe from structural failure, fire hazards from electrical and heating systems, electrical shock, and health risks. The permits provide a permanent record of the work performed and inspections conducted on the project.
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This is a question many people may ask themselves when planning alterations to their home. A decision not to get a permit could be very costly. Some homeowners are finding when they try to sell or refinance their home, prospective buyers or lending institutions want proof that alterations are in compliance with local codes.
Without a permit and inspection on record, there is no proof. The homeowner must then apply for a permit with no guarantee that the remodel will meet the codes, and they face the possibility that the remodel must be redone or removed. This is costly and frustrating and could cause delays in refinancing or a lost sale of their home. A permit normally would provide a reasonable amount of assurance that what was proposed and eventually constructed would meet structural, fire, life, and safety requirements found in the building code.
The City does not require a permit before commencing emergency repairs. However, a permit for the emergency work must be applied for on the first business day after the work has commenced. The City of Washougal defines an emergency as something that affects basic needs. A common emergency repair that does not require a permit includes:
Securing damaged structural members, roofs, decks, or stairs in a safe and weather tight manner. You must obtain a permit before repairing damaged structural members, roofs, decks, or stairs.
A building permit is not required for the following per Section 105.2:
A mechanical permit is required to install, alter, repair, replace or remodel per International Mechanical Code and (WMC) 15.04.020(7).
A mechanical permit is not required for the following per UMC Section 112.2:
A plumbing permit is required for any installation, alteration, repair, replacement or remodel of any plumbing system regulated by WMC 15.09.10 Section 105.2 (C) to See Plumbing Permit Application and Checklist.
A plumbing permit is not required for the following per UPC Section 103.1.2:
Not necessarily, a new home has far more fees associated with it than remodels because of development fees. These development fees are not charged each time that an alteration is made. Building permit fees are based on the value (construction costs including materials and typical labor costs) of the work to be done. As an example, an alteration with a value of $10,000 would have a building permit fee (including plan review) of around $225.
Each person will have a different view of what is and is not expensive; however, a few hundred dollars now may save thousands in the future. Other permits such as plumbing, electrical and mechanical (heating and cooling) have fees based on the number and type of installations.
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.
No. The new work must be constructed under the codes in effect today.
No. Only the new portion must meet the current codes unless the remodel creates a hazard for the existing building, such as overloading an existing beam.
For one thing, any contracted person doing work who is not currently registered with the State Construction Contractors Board is doing so illegally. Would you want this type of person working on your home?
Another reason is the registration provides some protection to the homeowner from being charged for work and materials not provided or paying twice for them (material suppliers and subcontractors can place a lien on your home if they do not receive payment from your contractor). There are also trade licenses for those persons doing plumbing and electrical work to provide some assurance that they have adequate knowledge and training in those fields.
Often there is a misunderstanding between the contractor and owner as to who is responsible for obtaining the permits. Be sure it is clear who is responsible. If the contractor were to be responsible for obtaining the permits, it would be wise to have the contractor provide proof they did so. The owner will ultimately be responsible for the work on their property.
Keep in mind that while you may be exempt from a permit, you may still be required to obtain other types of permits and/or approvals. For example, you may not need a building permit to build a 100 square foot shed on your property, but you will still be required to meet structure setback requirements from property lines required by the zoning code and the structure must still comply with building code regulations. If your property is located in a flood hazard zone, a flood hazard permit may still be required.