Basement renovation

Why Do I Need a Permit To Finish My Basement?

Why Do I Need a Permit To Finish My Basement? 4 Reasons

Obtaining permits can be a long and boring process. You’ve sometimes got to fill out lots of paperwork and go through checks to get approved to make changes to your home. This may lead to you asking yourself – why do I need a permit to finish my basement? Trying to bypass getting a permit can cause you lots of issues. Read on to find out the answers to your question.

It can be Illegal if you Finish your Basement Without a Permit

This is a major reason as to why you need a permit to finish your basement. In states such as Massachusetts, it’s against the law to carry out and complete major home renovations without owning a permit for the job you’re doing. It should be noted that this is only for larger scale jobs, such as installing a new roof, or adding an extension to your house. You do not need a permit if you were to change your carpets, paint walls, or install roof strips.

Being caught finishing your basement without a permit can result in you having to dismantle all of the work you’ve already carried out. If your local building department finds out you’re about to finish your basement but you don’t have a permit, they have the right to fine you as well. This means that your project could become very expensive, without your basement even being completed.

Increase your Property Resale Value

Another reason why you need a permit to finish your basement is to appeal to potential buyers for your property in the future. If someone is interested in purchasing your home, they will want to know that all of the renovations you’ve carried out have been completed legally. This is because once they become owners of the home they will become liable for any work that has been done without a permit.

This could result in large costs for the new owners if they are either fined, or have to hire contractors to repair the illegal work the previous owners carried out. If you do not have the relevant permits or paperwork that interested buyers want, then you will struggle to sell your home.

Insurance Issues

Let’s say you finish your basement without a permit, but then damages occur to your home and you want to make an insurance claim. What will the insurance company do? They’ll check the structural integrity of your house, and make sure all work that’s been completed has a permit to prove that the work carried out was high quality and safe. If you don’t have this paperwork, your home insurance company may refuse to payout for the damages that have incurred on your property.

This would result in you having to pay for all of the repairs instead, which will be much more costly than if you had just put through the paperwork to get a permit to finish your basement.

Safety of your Property

This is arguably the most important answer to the question “why do I need a permit to finish my basement?” Your basement is obviously placed underneath your home, which means you’ll likely need to make structural changes in order for your basement to be accessible.

By obtaining a permit, the local building authority is acknowledging that your plans are sensible, safe, and have minimal risk of causing damage to your property. Conducting this work without a permit means a professional hasn’t studied your plans, and there’s a higher chance you do something wrong which could result in serious problems for your house. These permits are in place to keep you and the people you live with safe. You don’t want to be putting others in danger.

How do I Obtain a Permit to Finish my Basement?

When applying for a permit to finish your basement, you’ll need to show an outline of the height of the ceiling and length of the walls. This can easily be shown in a blueprint of your basement plans. Your blueprint will also need to show the positions of the plumbing, electricals, smoke detectors, and HVAC.

Once you obtain your permit, inspections will be conducted at different stages in your project. This is to make sure the electricals, framing, and plumbing, are all up to standard. This means you’ll know that your finished basement is safe to utilize.

How much will it Cost to get a Permit to Finish my Basement?

This depends on the state you live in, but a good rule of thumb is the cost will be roughly $1 per square foot of your proposed basement. You should add this cost into your project budget so you know before you carry out the work, that you have enough money to finish your basement. If your plans propose that your basement will be 300 square feet, you should estimate that the cost of your permit application will be $300.

Final Thoughts

Getting a permit to finish your basement can look like a daunting task. But it is essential you make sure your project goes through the correct checks so that you can feel comfortable that your basement is a safe room in your home. Doing this will also make you avoid any headaches in the future if you decide to sell your home.

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