Do I need a Building Permit?

Why should I get a permit?

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Technically, when you do a remodel or addition that is unpermitted, any modifications should not be counted when you get the house appraised. So, if you start off with a 1200 square foot 2BR/2BA house, and add an unpermitted 300 square foot bedroom suite, an appraiser should only consider it to be a 1200 square foot 2BR/2BA house, and not a 1500 square foot 3BA/3BA house.

Also, when you sell the house, you have to disclose that the addition was unpermitted. If the buyer finds out after the fact that the addition was unpermitted, they can come back and sue you for non-disclosure of that fact, with the damages being how much less the house would be worth if the addition did not exist.

If the city or county find out that the addition is not permitted (one of your neighbors turns you in, or an inspector just happens to be touring your neighborhood when construction is going on), they can halt construction and require you to get the required permits. This may also require demolition of some of the construction already done, to inspect things like foundation footings, electrical, plumbing, etc. They will then charge you at least double the original permit fees as a fine.

Or, they may require that you make the addition unusable. For example, I toured a house for sale that had an unpermitted bathroom in an outbuilding. And, the seller wanted to make sure everything was legally permitted by the city. But, rather than require the seller to rip out the unpermitted sewer line from the toilet, they required him to pour cement down the toilet drain, rendering it useless.

Also, if you have some work done that is not permitted and you have a fire or something, this additional work probably wouldn't be covered by your insurance. And, if the addition actually caused the fire (faulty wiring or whatever), your insurance company can refuse to pay altogether.

Bottom line: not getting proper permits is not worth the savings of not having them in the long run.

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Why Get Permits & Inspections

There are many important reasons to obtain the required building permit(s) and to obtain the required inspections for your construction project.

Helps protect property value

Your home or business is an investment. If your construction project does not comply with the codes adopted by your community, the value of your investment could be reduced.

Saves Money

Property insurers may not cover work or damages caused by work done without permits and inspections.

Makes Selling Property Easier

When property is sold through a multiple listing association, the owner is required to disclose any improvements or repairs made and if permits and inspections were obtained. Many financial institutions will not finance a purchase without proof of a final inspection. If you decide to sell a home or building that has had modifications without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied or do costly repairs.

Improves safety

Your permit allows the code official to reduce potential hazards of unsafe construction to provide for public health, safety and welfare. By following code guidelines, your completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, and your friends or future owners. Mandatory inspections complement the contracto's experience and act as a system of checks and balances resulting in a safer project.

It's the Law

Work requiring permits are made such by City Ordinance. Work without a permit may be subject to removal or other costly remedies.

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Below is from Mac Smith at All Pro Improvements, Inc. SC Builder #23265

Permits that require inspections also reduce the chances of faulty workmanship, and insure a good a proper job, as well as a safe home for you and your family!

Who obtains the permit? The contractor is the one that obtains the permit.

Read the above to understand that if the homeowner obtains the permit, then the homeowner becomes the contractor! Do not get hooked into this little trick used by Unsavory and unlicensed contractor want-a-bee's! You could owe their income taxes, and insurance, or their medical claims and lost wages!

The office where you apply for the permit will normally have warnings about this posted also. Beware of anyone instructing you that you don't need a permit, or even worse, that you should be the one to get the permit!

Only repairs for less than $200 are allowed to go without a permit in most municipalities! Painting is not considered as a repair as is often not required for permitting purposes.

Some Permit Info, more in your phone book, or call your local police station:

Lexington, Town of - 803-356-5938

Lexington County - (803) 785-8130

Columbia, City of - 803-545-3420

Forest Acres - (803) 782-4245

Richland County - 803-576-2140

West Columbia, City of - (803)791-1880

Cayce, City of - 803-796-9020

SC Department of LLR for Contractor Licensing verification information online at

If you phoned our company, you were initially seeking a licensed, insured, bonded professional contractor! Don't let some "hook and ladder" guys try to save you money without a permit!

The Better Business Bureau recommends speaking to prior customers of the contractor you plan to hire. They also offer a rating for companies through their website. or you can call them at 254-2525.

Do YOUR Due Diligence wisely!