Permits and Inspections for Home Improvements – How to Make the Process Go Smoother

When remodeling or making an addition to your home you may be required to apply for a building permit. Once you’ve received the initial approvals and started the project there may be certain stages (depending on the project) that require inspection by your local building department. Find out from your building department how much time is normally required to schedule inspections and plan accordingly.

The required inspections may include, but are not limited to:

Footings – Footings are used to support the foundation walls.

Slab Foundation – Before the concrete is poured an inspection is normally required to make sure footings and supports were dug properly. Any rough plumbing, etc. Rescheck that will be embedded in the concrete is also inspected at this time.

Rough Inspection – Before walls are insulated an inspection is performed to make sure that the framing, wiring, plumbing and duct work have been performed in accordance with required codes and your engineered plans.

Insulation – Before insulation is covered up by drywall or other materials an inspection is normally required to make sure it meets R-values specified by code.

Final Inspection – Once all the work is completed a final inspection is normally required to make sure that all aspects of the project are in full compliance.

If your project does require a permit, it’s a good idea to meet with the local building inspector before the project starts. There are a couple of reasons this may be useful. First, to get the inspectors input before work starts so that you can find out if they have any special requirements not spelled out in the building code.

The second reason is to build rapport and a level of trust. If you already have your plans ready, seek his/her input and advice. Be polite and courteous whenever you are dealing with inspectors and other staff members and avoid creating an adversarial environment. Remember they hold the power to approve or disapprove your completed work so they have the ability to make your life miserable if you are being difficult.

Although it is sometimes difficult, it’s best to be present when inspections are done so that you can address any problems with the inspector and understand exactly what they want done. Otherwise you may end up guessing what they mean and waste everyone’s time. Typically inspectors will show up randomly at times that fit into their schedule so try to be flexible.

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