Failure to Obtain a Building Permit

Over my many years as a building inspector I have heard many times how someone “got away” without obtaining a building permit. Sheds, decks, spas, barns, pools and many other items that require a permit or perhaps electrical underwriters approval as well are built without first getting a permit. Somehow by getting away without paying these $10, $20 or even $50 or $100 permits seems to be a great reward. If we ignore how dangerous this can be and the end results, lets see what they really saved in the end.

Case one- People installed an in-ground pool in their rear yard along with a cabana and plenty of lighting. The pool was built directly adjacent to a pair of sliding doors from their dining room without any safety gates to prevent entry to the pool area. The electric was never inspected by an Underwriter so of course the proper Ground Fault circuits were never installed either as they were “too expensive”. Manual J Two months later, their 3 year old wandered out the open patio door to the pool, picked up the pretty radio and promptly entered the wading end of the pool.

The end result was disastrous. A simple permit could have prevented the pool from being built without safety gates and a $25 Underwriters inspection could have prevented electrical shock from killing the child. What did they save? Case 2-A small barn/shed built without a permit collapsed on a man severely injuring him. Inspection showed the wrong sized lumber was used for the rafters and insufficient sized nails were used resulting in a collapse.

How much did they save? $64 in permit fees. I have seen over and over cases where someone attempting to sell their home were held up at closing because their title company upon visiting their home had found a pool, shed or a garage on the property without having permits or Certificates of Use from the municipality. Closings are postponed or cancelled and I have seen sales lost because of this. Lawyers fees, realtors fees, lost down payments, etc. all because someone wanted to “get away” from getting a $50 permit. Do not be foolish. Get a permit.

Your Friendly Building Inspector
Building Inspection and Code Enforcement System

Pete is a 30+ year building inspector with experience in both public and private construction industries. From schools to treatment plants, from private homes and condo projects, to large residential landscaping projects, he has worked both in the building design areas and field construction in the Eastern US. In 2006 he formed along with two other building inspectors

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