Posted By Alan Donald @ Apr 30th 2010 1:47pm In: Real Estate


Construction Tools & MaterialsWhen lenders toughen their standards and the housing market is challenging for sellers, many homeowners will choose to either add or remodel their existing home, instead of changing it for a new one to satisfy their needs. Many builders have chosen not to build any new "spec" homes and focus on remodeling and additions instead.

Many homeowners are unaware that of the zoning laws, building codes and neighborhood restrictions governing renovations and additions. Most projects will require permits and official inspections to satisfy federal/state/county/city regulations and neighborhood covenants and restrictions.  Failure to comply with due process may result in immediate work stoppage and/or significant fines.

Zoning laws cover issues such as use and occupancy of the property, building setbacks, and height restrictions. Building codes deal primarily with safety standards relating to structural integrity, electrical and fire hazards, insulation and plumbing . Neighborhood covenants and restrictions deal with issues like aesthetics and desired community character. If your project does not comply with all regulations and restrictions, you may apply for special dispensation or ask to be granted an exception with the relevant authority.

Most licensed contractors know what they have to do in order to get all the necessary permits and approvals. Here are a few things that are not widely known:

  • If you do the work yourself and you are not a licensed contractor (you still need the permits and inspections), county regulations may restrict the sale of your home for a specific amount of time after the renovations are finished.
  • If you do the work without permits or inspections and the local government inspectors learn about it, they may require you to undo any work that does not meet the standards, fix any code violations and pay fines for not having requested a permit. Note: No lender will allow a purchaser to buy your home unless it has no known code violations.

It is important to understand that these regulations are in place to look after the safety of the residents and to do what's best for the neighborhood. So, before you embark in a renovation or addition project, learn what permits you need from your county and city officials!

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