Permits and Codes
Do I need a building permit, and if so, why?
All states, counties,
cities, and towns may have different construction rules, which a builder
must understand and follow after obtaining the permit. Sometimes the idea
of getting a fence permit seems ludicrous. But remember that the building
inspection department is basically looking out for your safety. Every
time there is a major disaster such as a hurricane or an earthquake, the
building inspectors review damage and devise ways so as to minimize property
damage in the future. Open any codebook and you'll find tables detailing
how many and what type of nails to use in each and every connection. Had
these instructions been adhered to, some of those houses in Florida that
"just blew apart" during hurricane Andrew might still be standing. All
the code requirements that you must follow when you get a permit deal
with structural issues, lighting, plumbing, and on and on. Although very
detailed and sometimes tedious to follow, they just may save your life one day. Many inspection
departments also review products for their insulation value in an effort to save you
money and conserve energy. They also review a product's durability. To
sum up, a permit is usually required to ensure that the work done is being done
What kind of inspections can I expect in building a house?
In general you need a
foundation inspection, a framing inspection, a rough and finish electrical
inspection, a rough and finish plumbing/gas inspection, and a final inspection.
Some jurisdictions will not issue you a certificate of occupancy until
you pass the final one. Call your local building office.
Where do I get permits?
You should contact your
local building/zoning/development department and see what requirements
they have for obtaining permits. Some may require architects' drawings;
others may allow draftsman or builders' drawings.
What are easements?
An easement is the right
to use and access your property. It may be deeded or implied. Most typically,
easement holders are public utilities, but they can also be highway departments
that may have an easement across the front of your property, power companies
that have an easement to dig up and service underground electrical supplies
to your house, or gas companies to service similar areas. They can even be
railroad tracks, power company high tension wires, etc. Easements can
also be granted for ingress and egress across your property for a neighboring
lot that has no other access to a public road but through your lot. If
added to your deed, such easements generally become permanent. If they
exist as part of a lot you are considering purchasing, they can rarely
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