Sometimes you just want to renovate or repair something around your house and don’t want to be bothered with the extra time, paperwork and expense required in having to file a permit. Sometimes, it’s obvious when you will need a permit to complete work. Other times, it’s not so obvious.

building permit

When do you need to pull permits? As with most things, it depends.

Types of Permits

The two types of permits you basically need to know about are specialty permits and building permits. If you’re working on a specific repair that has to do with plumbing, electrical, roofing etc… you’ll need a specialty permit. If you’re doing a larger and more general job, you’ll need a building permit. Building permits can be pulled by a general contractor or by a homeowner if it’s their primary residence. Specialty permits are pulled by the specific contractor. If the contractor can’t pull permits, they’re probably not licensed, in which case do you really want to work with them?

How to Get a Building Permit

You’re probably doing a larger job like finishing a space or creating an addition. You will therefore have to get an architect involved and deal with inspections. There are three steps involved in the process:

  1. Create drawings – Contact an architect.
  2. File for permits
  3. Inspection of the work.

Drawings

Again, you should probably consult an architect but in some cases a good GC can do some basic drawings for you that should suffice for the inspector.

approved plans

Permit Filing

Next, you’ll have to deal with the city building department. If you’re in New York City, get an adjuster or expediter because dealing with the DOB is a nightmare. For everyone else, either build relationships with the right people ore rely on a contractor who already has these relationships.

Inspections

Got the permits? Did it take a few weeks or a few months? Again, relationships are key to expediting this part of the process. Basically, the inspector wants to make sure that the job was completed correctly. If not, you’ll have to redo the work. Do the work and get it inspected before moving on or putting up sheetrock. Otherwise, you’ll be costing yourself more time and money.

If you’re handy and experienced, you may be able to do some of this yourself, otherwise you’ll need to work with a licensed and experienced contractor. We have a website with a national directory of experienced Spanish speaking contractors such as plumbers, electricians, HVAC professionals , handymen and more. Feel free to reach out if you need a recommendation.