Remodeling Your Kitchen? Make Sure You Have All the Permits
What is the worst thing that can go wrong with your kitchen renovation project? Well, it could be anything from Stirling costs, delay in product delivery, bad weather, dishonest professional to trouble from authorities.
Wait, what? Trouble from authorities?
Yes, there is a chance that your kitchen renovation project might be under the authorities’ radar. Not the local police or the FBI or the CIA, but those sleepy-looking people who walk in and out of boring-looking government buildings. Yes, those people. Why?
You can be issued a notice or worse, fined a substantial amount by the local housing department if your ‘new’ renovation does not adhere to local housing rules, including health and safety regulations.
But do not get too worried (not yet at least). Let us first understand what kind of renovations need not be informed to the authorities and then head towards the larger question.
Cosmetic changes? No issues!
Housing department rules change from state to state, but you can be sure that there are some aspects that should not bother any Housing Department. For example, cosmetic changes like repainting a wall, changing a cabinet door or two, a new faucet or even a new countertop do not in any way alter or change the home’s core structure.
On the other hand, anything that can be deemed ‘dangerous’ always needs permits. In some areas like Fairfax County, North Virginia, even replacing HVAC equipment needs a permit. But the same may not be the case in other regions. Just remember, anything that impacts the electricity or the integrity of the house needs approval from the authorities.
The Importance of Permits
We know. Permits sound very bureaucratic but there is a reason behind this. Health and safety requirements, for example, ensure that everyone in an area is safe. So, if your neighbor thinks he can build a 15-feet high wall in his house and block the sidewalk, the only thing that stops him from doing so are the authorities who will deny him a permit. Similarly, if your renovation project includes electrical updates that can potentially put your home off-grid, it will be the permit authorities who will notify you of the same and put the project on hold until those issues are addressed.
At the cost of sounding like one of those cliched arguments made by law enforcement officers, these are a necessary evil. They can delay and increase your costs, but you will sleep comfortably knowing that everyone around you must comply too!
When is a Permit Absolutely Necessary?
In simple terms, any structural change requires a permit. This could mean additional construction, electrical rerouting, installing or removing ventilation, installing a lift or a skylight, new plumbing and water lines, etc. Again, this may change from area to area but it is best to check with your local authorities.
As you can guess by now, there are no ‘fixed’ fees when it comes to permits. The overall cost depends on several factors. An article by Improvenet points out that the price ranges from $398 to $1,561, with an average cost of $979. However, no matter what the cost, remember that you must start working on your project only AFTER you have received approval. And if you need help with the same, there are plenty of service providers who can help you. These are permit companies that will do all the legwork for you, including filling the application forms, contacting the necessary authorities and keeping a track of the approval process. They will also, of course, ensure that the submission adheres to all the necessary guidelines and will also help you iron out all that doesn’t comply.
All this information is not meant to intimidate you. Remember, merely approaching the authorities does not mean that your home project will be rejected. This process adds costs but you cannot go ahead without it. Ultimately, if the costs are too much for you, then you can consider delaying the project or taking it one item at a time. You can even consider dropping items that require a permit to save on time, cost and money. After all, the last thing you want is to pay a fine for something in which you have already invested a lot of money, right?