Permits and Liens
Building Permit laws vary greatly and are dependent upon where you live. They are enforced on a local level whether that is through the county, town, parish or city. Before you begin building your outdoor living space, it is important for you to understand which permits you need and how inspections work.
Some communities have more stringent building codes than others; but, generally speaking, a building permit is required for any work that involves the load-bearing structure of your home or work that could affect the health and safety of its occupants. There are also other permits that different municipalities require, which may require any of those mentioned below:
· An Electrical Permit for wiring a new structure or changes to the electrical system in an existing structure.
· A Plumbing Permit for plumbing a new structure or changes to the existing plumbing in a structure.
· A Gas Permit for new heating, hot water or cooking systems that use propane or natural gas or for any changes to these systems.
General maintenance repairs such as replacing shingles or flooring, often do not require a permit. However, some work such as replacing windows may or may not require a permit depending on where you live and the exact nature of the work you are doing. Since building codes vary so much, it is always wise to check with your local municipality to see if a building permit is required for any work that you are doing to your home. If a permit is required, you may be asked to submit drawings or blueprints of your project.
It is your job as the property owner to secure the building permit and to comply with all building code requirements for your project. However, if you specify in your contract that the contractor obtains the necessary permits and arrange for inspections on your behalf, he can do so. But, if you don’t make it a condition of the contract, that responsibility falls back on you. If your building project doesn’t comply with the local building or zoning laws, the municipality can force you to correct the problems or demolish your outdoor living space.
If a contractor suggests that you skip getting a required permit for any reason, it is advisable to look for another contractor.
When someone files a legal notice that claims they have a right to be paid from the value of your property, it is called a lien. If a supplier or subcontractor is not paid by your contractor for their materials or labor, you might just end up with a lien on your property. If that happens, you cannot renew your mortgage or sell your home until the lien is removed. It will require that you pay the lien holder what they claim is due them to get the lien removed.
Even if you pay your contractor on time, it is not a guarantee that you won’t have a lien placed on your property. If they take the agreed upon money, and then fail to pay the subcontractors for materials or labor, a lien can be placed against your property.
Lien laws vary depending upon where you live. For more information regarding these laws, contact Consumer Affairs or other appropriate government agencies.