Long thread~! My guess is that the lack of permits are a similar percentage among most home improvements. When I was a carpenter and installer back in NJ, the customer sometimes made it a prerequisite that I DO NOT get a permit. This was back in the old days, before there were standard codes even. We had some local inspectors (in NJ) who would make up their own! And often, the customer already did a bunch of work in the house and did not want the inspector coming to see the new screened in porch I was building around back, cause then he would see everything else! These days things are more standardized and our store gets permits for 100% of jobs. Once you get into the flow of it, it is not too hard....although in NJ the dozen forms or so they give you can confuse a person. Heck I just got a permit for putting new roof shingles on a shed/garage that is falling down! It took 10 minutes to fill out the form, and they approved it within 48 hours. Hopefully they will pass it when I am finished, since I have not called them for any "in between" inspections. But as I said before access to inspectors is not always easy. My current town has the inspector in his office 2 hours per WEEK...so you better not be in a hurry. When I first moved up here, people could not contact him at all. My neighbor tried for weeks to find him - wanted to put in a pool. Someone finally directed him to a local bar where he did meet the guy.......(true story, but we are now two inspectors later- turned out the last one did not have the proper credentials!)....... So you can just imagine calling your local official in Idaho or deep WV........nowhere to be found!