How to Start Building without a Permit?

by Amos Z

We all have a few plans for the backyard that never made it past the initial stage, mainly for the fact that getting a building permit can be such a drag.

All the fun is in planning and designing your backyard project, and all of it is taken away when you’ve got a heap of documentation to fill out just to get a building and planning permission from the city.

For most, this is too great of a hassle to actually commit to any larger projects, which is exactly why we’re here to help, as you don’t actually need a permit to start your project, but rather, to finish it.

Based on what county you live in, getting a permit can be practically impossible, and it may end up costing you more than the project itself, and that’s if we ignore the fact it could take months to actually be cleared for the project.

Get started on your shed

Even though it’s large enough to be considered a construction project, the law states that you don’t need a construction permit to build a shed in your backyard, so long as it’s under the maximum height allowed.

Other things to keep in mind are that this shed can’t have any wiring, plumbing, or impact on the structural integrity of the main house.

Of course, this is only valid in certain states, whereas the rest will require a permit if you’re trying to nail two boards together, and it’s up to you to research your county’s laws regarding construction.

Building codes weren’t a thing before, and as long as you were building within your property, there was nothing anyone could say or do about it, but due to urban planning becoming so important in certain areas, they became a necessary evil.

What is a building permit?

As dumb as it may sound, a building permit is required in order to ensure that all the structures in a certain area are structurally sound and safe for the other inhabitants of said area.

This helps avoid major disasters that would normally happen if it had not been for urban planning, and a great deal of these disasters still happen when someone unqualified is on the job.

With a building permit, you’re in possession of a written document clearing you for the construction of the plan you presented to the local urban planning office.

This document can only be issued by your municipality, city, or state, and you’ll first have to submit your construction plans for revision before you’re approved.

Based on how complex your plan may be, this can take weeks, sometimes even months, so be prepared for loads of stress and walking to and from the local office for any corrections to your plans.

When is a permit required?

Any plan that directly impacts the structural integrity of your home will require you to get a building permit beforehand.

This is done to ensure that your home is safe to live in after the renovation is complete, although permits are also required for plans involving changes to the sanitation and public utilities installed in a home, as disturbing the natural state of the aforementioned installations can cause a number of health issues and dangers for the inhabitants.

On the other hand, small repairs are always fair game, allowing you to repaint the interior, build a small fencer or replace cabinets in your kitchen without having to worry about a permit.

Based on the situation, certain detached structures may also be exempt from a permit, so long as their structural integrity isn’t endangering the others living in the area, meaning that a garage should also be fine without a permit.

Skipping the permit

Over the years, a lot of homeowners have tried to ignore these building codes, and all of them have faced serious repercussions for their actions.

That being said, there’s definitely a way around getting a permit, at least in the early stages of the project.

Essentially, without a permit, you’re not allowed to finish a project in your yard, which doesn’t prevent you from starting one and then applying for a permit.

This can save you some precious time and give you a head start on the construction project, as the majority of the work in the early stages doesn’t even qualify for intervention by the county/state.

Do keep in mind that if you do actually finish a project without a permit, you’re in for a load of trouble, including the fact that the home will practically become impossible to sell due to the lack of documentation.

Bottom line

As enticing as it may sound, it may be for the best to get a construction permit whenever one is necessary.

Saving a couple of weeks of time on a project is a great thing to do, but if you’re doing it at the expense of your property’s value, neither you nor the city is coming out on top.

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