Do I Need A Building Permit?

Rick Sheppard
Published on January 26, 2020

Do I Need A Building Permit?

A building permit is often required for all construction whether you’re building new construction, enlarging a home, repair, move or demolish a structure or to convert or replace any electrical, gas, plumbing or mechanical system.  For example in Skippack Township, building permits are required for: New construction; additions; alterations/renovations; accessory buildings; sheds; decks; patios; porches [uncovered, covered and enclosed]; gazebos; driveway paving; reroofing; residing; swimming pools [above and in ground]; hot tubs/jacuzzi;and demolition. Plumbing; electrical; HVAC, solar, and geothermal mechanical work [including wood burning stove and fireplace] also require permits.  Even removing an unused, empty oil tank may require a permit.

When work is done to refresh an existing structure, however, a building permit is usually not necessary. For example, updating the appearance of the existing kitchen cabinet doors. Other remodeling updates such as flooring/ceiling coverings, painting/papering, tiling or carpeting and interior wall decorations can usually be done without a building permit. However, even if a building permit isn’t required, certain projects may require a licensed contractor. If unsure, contact the municipalities office for more information.

Permits need to be obtained before the project gets under way. If township officials spot a project without proper building permits, work could be stopped until they are obtained, leaving you without a functioning kitchen or bathroom for weeks and a hefty fine.

If you are using a professional contractor, it’s recommended to have them pull the necessary building permits. Township officials are likely to have a long list of questions that contractors are best qualified to answer.

It may be tempting not to apply for a building permit. A remodel or addition done without one can be a problem should you decide to sell or refinance. If the appraiser’s total square footage of the home differs from county records, it may trigger a search for a building permit. Banks may decline to issue a loan on the home, if no permits are found. Illegal construction is a risk for the lender. A fire insurance carrier may refuse to honor a claim. Sellers are required to complete a sellers disclosure statement when selling a home. The seller’s disclosure statement questions whether a permit was obtained. The buyer may not make an offer to purchase your home if a building permit was not obtained.

Be sure to contact your municipalities office for more information on building permits. Most if not all municipalities websites provide up-to-date information on when the homeowner needs a permit. If unsure – ASK.

The author, Rick Sheppard, is a licensed real estate broker in Pennsylvania and a 32+ year veteran of the real estate trenches.  He knows a lot because he’s seen a lot.  If you have any questions about this or any real estate related topic, feel free to contact Rick at [email protected] and he’ll do his best to answer your questions.

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