Why Unpermitted Work Is Such a Common Problem

If it hasn’t happened to your contracting business yet, it will eventually. You go to a client site to provide a consultation on a project and see that there are all kinds of problems with the existing setup. The client tells you that the person doing the work didn’t obtain a permit, even though you know they should have. Now you’re stuck with a potential issue, should you decide to take on the job. Here’s why unpermitted work is so common in all types of construction fields, and why you should confirm that you’ve got the right permits before you start work.

Property Owners Want to Save Money
There are few aspects of owning a property that skyrocket costs more than a renovation. As an industry, construction has notorious problems sticking to the original estimate for a variety of reasons. It makes sense that home and business owners might be looking for ways to cut back. Some permits might cost $50 or so, while others could be hundreds or even thousands. Many people conclude that if they know the work will meet building codes, it doesn’t matter if they have a permit in the first place. This is a faulty assumption because they’re relying on the city or county to ignore the problem in perpetuity. When it comes to unpermitted work, sleeping dogs aren’t always left to lie.

Permitted Upgrades Often Raise Property Taxes
In many areas, getting that permit can be the gift that keeps costing more money. People pay for the permit in the beginning, but then the existence of the permit can result in a hike in property taxes. Property tax estimates vary by the county and by the value of the property and usually represent a percentage of the home’s value. In California, the taxes are assessed based on the last sale price and a 2% increase per year. A new permit for a notable upgrade might trigger a new assessment that returns a much higher value. That translates into higher annual property taxes. People who plan to own the property for several years afterward might hope to skip the permit to avoid that increase.

Homeowners Don’t Know What They Need
Sometimes, people just don’t know that they need a permit. DIY projects have always been popular, but there are times when they tend to be more frequent. A rising housing market tends to prompt a lot of amateurs to try their hands at flipping houses. Someone who’s trying to skimp on expenses at all levels might rule the permit as just one more cost they can easily cut. Waiting for permit approval is also a delay many want to avoid. Of course, a lack of knowledge in construction can lead to disaster. Getting a permit is the first step to ensuring that the job is done correctly. People who ignore that may end up with a renovation that is faulty or even dangerous, depending on the project.

Why Permitted Work Is Best
Behind every construction permit is a good reason. Structures that people live or work in need to be built soundly so that they do not fall apart or collapse. Plumbing, electrical and other projects that happen out of a property owner’s sight can pose health or safety risks if they are done improperly. As a licensed contractor, you are required to pull permits when necessary on work you do for clients. In short, it’s a cost you cannot avoid for some jobs. It may help to frame it to clients as a way you add value to their homes. Unpermitted work is a ticking time bomb that could go off at any time, with minor or major consequences.

Sooner or later, you’re going to come across signs of unpermitted work at a client site. It’s a common problem, but that doesn’t mean that work done without permits is easy to sweep under the rug. Taking the right approach from the start can help you and your clients avoid future concerns related to the work. To discover more about the rules of running a contracting business, visit us at CSLS today!