Is It Illegal to Remodel Without a Permit

April 29, 2020
Home remodel in Loveland, Colorado

Before we officially start work on a remodeling project for a homeowner, we always ask, “Do you have the necessary permits for the project?” If they answer with a “no”, then we refuse to start the job until they have the permit(s) in hand. However, we do help with this process if the permit hasn’t been acquired.

Buildings and properties follow a certain set of regulations, which can differ state to state. While building codes may vary state to state, many permits for remodeling projects are the same across municipalities. Without the proper permit for your remodeling project, you’re going to be in a world of hurt.

Here’s why.

Some remodeling projects require a permit.

We’ve been asked the question of “is it illegal to remodel without a permit?” many times. The answer is, it depends on the project. Some minor touch-ups to the home, made for aesthetic reasons, are typically fine. Other, more time-consuming and major improvements made to the home will typically require a building permit.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The city needs to inspect the project during and after completion to ensure safety and health building codes are met by the work completed. Another reason is to make sure the homeowner’s investment of the property is secured and protected with the remodel.

What Remodeling Projects Require a Permit?

Like we stated previously, not all projects require permits, such as plumbing repairs, roof fixes, and your regular contractor jobs. However, here are some remodeling projects that require a permit:

  • Major foundational remodels
  • In-ground pool
  • New concrete patio
  • Roof replacement
  • Backyard shed

This is a very limited list as permit requirements vary state to state. Essentially, if you are planning on putting in a new structure that could obstruct your neighbor’s view, you’re tearing down walls, or upgrading your kitchen cabinetry, it’s best to check with your city resources for building permits.

Here’s the thing, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What If I Remodel Without a Permit?

There are many cases from your neighbors and online about people who have regretted not acquiring a permit. The two main reasons that homeowners don’t acquire a permit are:

  • I didn’t want to spend the money on the permit.
  • I forgot to get a permit.

Both are horrible excuses. If you remodel without a permit, there are numerous problems that can occur.

Problems That Can Arise If You Remodel Without a Permit

Surprisingly, if you don’t file for a permit with your city, you could experience more than just a fine.

1. You Could Be Fined

If you refuse to acquire a permit for the remodel to your home or on your property, you could be significantly fined. This fine will cost more than the original price of the permit. So, do yourself a favor and don’t use the excuse of “I don’t want to pay”. If the permit is $150, then it’s best to pay it and save yourself the hassle of paying more later on.

2. You’re Issued a Stop-Work Order

What good is a home improvement if you’re requested to stop the project? Yes, your city officials can issue you a stop-work order, which means the contractor company you hired for the construction or other project will be forced to stop work on the project until you acquire the proper permit(s) to resume.

3. Poor Workmanship

Any company that doesn’t agree to work on a project without the necessary permits is worth their weight in gold. Good, trustworthy, and experienced companies understand how important it is to have permits. Companies or independent contractors that agree to work on your remodel without a permit are taking a huge risk and may not produce the best work. If they don’t follow your city’s building safety and health codes, they are putting your life at risk.

Consider this, you choose to remodel your kitchen with new cabinetry and a wall removal to open up the space. A few months or years down the line, you find out that the wall that was removed was essential to the level above the floor where the kitchen is located. Now, you’re stuck with the decision of risking the upper level collapsing or paying for someone else to put the wall or new beams back in.

Do you now wish you had filed and been approved for the permit?

4. Your House Value Significantly Decreases

Just because you made a remodel to your house, doesn’t mean that it will increase your home’s value in the first place. However, if you don’t acquire a permit, it will definitely mean the house value plummets.

5. You Can’t Sell Your House

It’s entirely possible that you can’t sell your house if you never acquired the proper permits for the remodel(s) to your home and property. You have to inform the buyer and the Real Estate Advisor of the remodels and modifications done to the home.

If the buyer finds out that you are selling them a house that doesn’t have the permits that you should have filed for, they’re more inclined to not buy. The reason being, they don’t want to deal with the city officials, possible health and safety risks, and having to go out and purchase the permits.

6. Your Home Insurance May Not Cover the Remodel

Let’s say that you hire a general contractor to remodel your kitchen, giving it an entirely new makeover. One day, the kitchen lights on fire because of poor wiring or a gas leak. If your insurance company notices that the area that caught on fire wasn’t permitted for a remodel, they might not cover your damages.

Now that’s an unfortunate situation.

Just do yourself a favor and file, purchase, and acquire the proper permits for your project before you spend way more money than you originally intended. Your health and safety depend on it.

Is It Also Illegal to Renovate a Home Without a Permit?

Yes, even renovations can be illegal. Again, depending on what they are and how significant they can be to the structure of the house or property.

If you are caught without a permit for your renovations like installing new ductwork or building a new sunroom, then you’re likely to be fined.

As we have years of experience in dealing with home and commercial building remodels, take the words of a professional here: Don’t skip obtaining your permit!

Save yourself the future headache even if it means paying out a few hundred dollars. It’s well worth it and you can hire professional contractors like H3 Construction & Design to work on the project to ensure the job is done right. Give us a call today if you have your permit(s) and are interested in proceeding with your exciting remodeling project!

List of Building Permits By City

For your convenience, we’ve put together a list of resources for you to file for your project’s permits in your Colorado municipality.

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Construction & Design
504 West Eisenhower Blvd, Suite 3,
Loveland, CO 80537
Phone: 970-515-2264
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