You’ll Need a Permit.


We were asked earlier this year to do electrical and plumbing work on a house to bring it to code. It was nothing major — install water heater, install sink, hang some lights.

To do this type of work, you have to get permits. We were required to pull permits for both electrical and plumbing work before getting started.

I had a contractor bid these items for me. Next day his estimate came back, and included a fee for administering each permit. Bid approved. Begin work. By weekend we were done.

The permit serves as its very own compliance guideline. It can only be obtained by the owner of record or the hired (licensed) contractor. This is to ensure that not just anyone will be authorizing or doing the work. The permit tells you what can and cannot be done while construction or repairs are underway.

The city does not require permits solely for the sake of beating you out of money. Cities use permits to minimize risk. In the process of work, often pollutants are released and/or hazardous materials are used. These things can pose a threat to human life or the environment.

In our case exposed wires were hanging down from the ceiling inside. There was no water heater. These things alone made the house unliveable. Which is why it failed a city inspection in the first place.

So we were expected to pull permits.

A month after work was completed, the client emailed me and asked for a copy of the permits so he could schedule another inspection. I didn’t have this documentation, so I called my contractor. He didn’t have it either.

The fear I felt that we had not approached this project professionally intensified when the contractor indicated that his electrician may not even have pulled a permit.

Yikes.

I have talked with contractors before who confessed they would readily disregard requirements to pull permits just so they could keep the city from being involved. This is careless and irresponsible. Not to mention a huge gamble. If caught, you can be double fined or perhaps lose your license.

I was able to speak with someone at city offices to pay for the permit without receiving an additional fee. Because the city inspector had not yet asked for the permit, we were able to pay normal price for it with no fines. I was relieved to take care of the issue responsibly after the fact at least, and we were able to save face with the client before he thought we were total knuckleheads. But this small victory did not replace my concern for administering the entire project from start to finish the appropriate way. I knew I had overlooked a crucial step in the process. One that makes me take my role as a risk consultant all the more seriously.

The lesson learned is worth its weight in gold.

When any type of work is done where a permit is needed, Integrity REO Solutions will have this done quickly, and follow the required steps to meet all city ordinances. Subsequently we will keep these records on file so we are compliant with city guidelines. And, we will not make the mistake of assuming the paperwork has been taken care of on the front end.

To us, it’s important to do things the right way. There may be a faster way through disregarding ordinances or cutting corners in general, but it is a risk we refuse to take.

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