Do I Need to Get a Building Permit?

Tony Stefan is an architect practicing in Sarasota and Manatee Counties

There is good advice, there is bad advice and there is very bad advice. Being told that you don’t need to get a building permit is very bad advice. In Sarasota and Manatee counties, almost all renovation work requires a minor or major permit.

• A small project like a Kitchen countertop replacement requires your plumber to get a permit for the sink and faucet trim-out. A minor bathroom remodel that includes vanity and lighting work requires both an electrical and a plumbing permit. Permits of this kind are obtained by the tradesman, are done “over-the-counter” or online, are relatively easy to obtain, and entail an inspection by the building department.

• Whole kitchen renovations, additions, and larger projects require building permits, and include multiple building trades – masons, roofers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, AC contractors to name the major inspected systems. These projects can entail up to 15 – 20 inspections by the building department. These permits require a thorough set of plans, and can take up to 2-3 weeks to issue.

• In most municipalities you can paint, replace flooring, install new trim, and replace some cabinets without a building permit.

• It’s usually the un-licensed “builders” that advise homeowners not to pull permits. These are the guys that have been getting caught in sting operations and fined.

• Homeowners who hire unlicensed contractors are placed at risk, because it is against the law to enable this behavior, and there are punishments for doing so.

• Sometimes unlicensed “builders” will convince homeowners to obtain an Owner-Builder permit, but there are limitations under this exemption: they are not allowed to act as your contractor in this scenario.

Find out how an architect can help make your project successful at “What’s in a Design?”