<BR><BR><BR><BR><BR> <BODY BACKGROUND="P10005.jpg"> <p>Building Permits can be a vital protection when projects are not built to building and safety codes.</p> <p>If you are viewing this text, your browser lacks the ability to read frames or iframes. Don't worry; you can still enjoy our site. All the pages can be viewed from the <A href="http://cauc2.net/sitemap.htm" TARGET=_parent >Site Map page</A>. Please come inside!</p> <p>This is also a story about an atrocious roof installed by Eagle Construction. Did the Better Business Bureau, Better Contractor's Bureau, NARI - National Association of the Remodeling Industry, GAF Materials Corporation, or the D&C newspaper do anything to help the consumer? Amy wants to share what she has learned to help other consumers not make the same mistakes she made.</p> <H1>Building Permits</H1> </body>
Building Permits

Building Permits are not just another way for the local government to rip you off. They, together with the asso­ciated inspections, offer a vital protection – ensuring the health and safety of the occupants of buildings. If you are planning any alterations or additions to your home, your contractor (and you) should check with your local building department to see what permits you will need before proceeding with your project. Also, zoning regulations differ from place to place, so check with the zoning authorities if they are in a separate government entity.

Building codes are established by most states and localities, and may vary considerably from one jurisdiction to another. Some localities require them even for simple jobs, like decks. Usually though, a building permit is required when structural work is involved or when the basic living area of a home is to be changed. "For example, if you have a home with an unfinished basement, and would like to finish off a portion of it for a family room, you would need a building permit in most jurisdictions because you have changed the basic amount of living space in your house by converting storage space to "livable" space. In some cases, special permits for electrical, heating and plumbing may be required."

"Your contract should state that the work is performed in accordance with all applicable building codes and zoning regulations in the area where you reside." Your contractor should apply for all the required and special permits in his or her name, and arrange for the inspections. These terms should be spelled out in your written contract.

If the terms, regarding the application of any permits, are not outlined in the contract, YOU may be cited and held legally responsible for failure to obtain the required permits. Why? Because the homeowner is ultimately responsible to make sure all the proper permits have been obtained.

A competent contractor will get all the necessary permits from your building department, but make sure he or she gets all necessary building permits before starting work on your project. It is illegal for a contractor to begin a project knowing that the proper permit has not been acquired. Nonetheless, they still may try it because the lack of one allows them excessive leeway (no inspections). There is only a small fine for a (licensed) contractor, if they don't obtain one.

Another possible quagmire can crop up, too. If it is found out that there is work being done without a required building permit, a Code Enforcement Officer can issue a stop-work order. This may happen at a very inopportune time, like when your living space is exposed to the elements.

Homeowners are not required to sign any of these permits, unless they are performing their own work personally. Don't be hoodwinked into obtaining "owner-builder" building permits for the contractor. Unlicensed or unscrupulous contractors frequently use this ploy, which erroneously implies that the property owner is personally providing his or her own labor and materials. So don't fall into this trap; if the contractor's work can't pass inspection, you can be held financially responsible for any corrections that must be made.

The permit for your job must be posted on the job before the work begins. Check to make sure that it is.

Re-roofing Permits

Roofing / re-roofing permits are not required in many areas. So a consumer, in these areas, doesn't even have the option of getting the safeguards afforded by a permit. If your jurisdiction does not routinely provide a permit for roofing / re-roofing, ask if you can get one anyway. Be unwavering, you deserve to have this protection. Tell your building department that your contractor will apply for that special roofing permit, since it is the contractor who should obtain all necessary permits.

Remember, a great multitude of sins can be covered up by shingles, never to be seen again. Some contractors use this fact to make a huge profit. A roof is on top of a house, and is all covered up by shingles. If it looks good, no one is the wiser.

NYS Building Code does require that a permit be obtained for re-roofing when there is a complete tear-off {down to, or including the decking}. However, many jurisdictions have been lax / lenient with this permit requirement. In NYS, you should be able to insist that you can have a permit, as it is a state code.

The City of Rochester has required such a permit since late 2003. When there is a complete tear-off including the decking, the city asks to be allowed to inspect the joists and framework for structural damage or weakness. They also require a final inspection when they verify that ice shield has been used where required by law. The city does allow an owner / occupant of a single-family home to come and obtain a permit. The cost of a re-roofing permit is based on the cost of the job – slightly more than 1%.

Because defects are so easy to hide, I believe that roofing / re-roofing permits should be required Nationwide. Re-roofing permits are required in the Town of Murray where I live, but Eagle Construction neglected to obtain one, even though their website promised, "We pull all the required building permits."


thing – hundreds of jurisdictions across the country don't have building code inspectors. If you're thinking of building or remodeling a home, you shouldn't blindly rely on this safety net being provided by your city or town.

When a government agency issues a permit, hopefully it will inspect your project at certain stages to make sure it complies with various codes and regulations. Ask the building department how often and at what stages of completion the in­spec­tions will occur. You will want at least one inspection during construction. {Put it in your contract.} The goal is to reveal defects before they are covered-up by continuing construction. If a defect is discovered, at any time, a code enforcement officer can enforce that building codes be followed.

Even though the contractor is responsible for arranging for these inspections, YOU should review the timetable, get a copy, and verify that inspections are done. You should also, if at all possible, be present during these inspections; and ask questions.

Don't make your final payment to the contractor until the building department has made a final inspection, and the inspector has signed off on the job.

Independent Inspector

You may want to seriously consider hiring an independent inspector for two reasons.

Make sure your contract allows you to bring in your own private inspector or engineer. Hire somebody who specializes in new home construction and knows the codes. Have that person inspect at every crucial stage during construction, starting with that foundation. You and your inspector should make the final inspection (or "walk-through") with your contractor to be sure there is nothing you or the contractor have overlooked.

Keeping Them Honest

In New York State, all contractors are legally bound to perform to the standards set forth by NYS building codes. Unfortunately, the New York Department of State told me that there's no enforcement bureau (at state level) when a contractor does shoddy work, even if they did not follow building or safety codes. Executive Director of the Better Contractor's Bureau, Carmen Santora, is quoted in an article with News 8 WROC-TV as saying "Without an enforcement bureau, contractors are not afraid of anything."

So, because New York doesn't have an enforcement bureau, it is still difficult to make contractors conform to these building codes. You must help make them conform to the rules by having an "accordance" statement in your contract, make sure that inspections are performed at specific stages, and be there when these inspections are done.

Binding Arbitration and Right-to-Cure, Is Your State Next? That is a very real threat!