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Pulling permits for a basement renovation? Got the permit - work has begun

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by daveswoodhauler, Jan 4, 2010.

  1. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    Ok, so I am starting to think that my idea of a basement playroom for the kids is never going to happen...this was after I made a trip to the building department to pull a permit....trying to do it the right way.

    Sorry for the rant...

    Basically, I was looking to finish 1/2 of my basement...into one large room for the kids. My plan was to drylok the entire basement, insulate, and then stud and drywall. I was going to add electric and another zone for heat. (Don't worry, got all the correct info on insulation from hearth folks here, so greatly appreciated)

    Met with the building inspector, and ran into a few problems:

    Basement is not waterproofed.....I explained to him that I was going to Dry Lok the entire basement, sent him the spec sheet.....not sure if that is going to cut it. If that doesn't cut it, I will need a soil test done outside the foundation to make sure drainage is ok. (No signs of water ever in the basement, but run dehumidifier in the summer)

    Basement needs 4% of the area to be natural ventilation. Only have 2 small windows and an insulated door into a bulkead, so it doesn't meet code. I have forced hot water for heat, so now I would need to put in a mechnical ventilation device.

    Landing of the stairs needs to be 36X36 at the base, but since the builder decided to put the well line right at the landing of the stairs, I don't have the clearance....built the wall at the landing on a small angle to hide the well piping, and inspector said it wouldn't cut it. So, took down the wall, built it straight, and was going to box the piping in under a platform, but then I would not have 6'6" of clearance from the top of ceiling to the floor.

    I've been looking as the Mass construction code, and I just don't see this project as happening, as budget is a concern.

    I guess my question is can I just pull a permit for the electrical (new lights and outlets) and plumbing (3rd zone off boiler)? The only walls I am framing are the perimiter walls along the insulation (not structural) and one dividing wall between the utility area and the finished area..again, this is non structural

    I really don't care on resale if the basement is considered finished or not.....as my budget for the process was going to be about $5500 as I was going to do everything except the electrical and plumbing run. What I did want to do is to have the permit done for the electrical and plumbing, as if we ever sell the house things will be in order.

    Just seems that more I read the building code, I am going to find more and more things that we not in the original plans.

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  2. seige101

    seige101 Minister of Fire

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    Personally i would just do it without any permit what so ever. But only because they are trying to give you so much greif.
  3. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I always pull electrical permits since it can burn the house down and kill people. The electrical permit is through the state department of Labor and Industries (L&I) and is completely independent of mechanical or building permits. The experience has been quite good.

    The plumbing permit is what will catch you. The mechanical permit will be issued by the same guys that should be issuing your building permit so they will catch you and that's bad. Why do you need this plumbing permit?

    Consider the risk. If your plumbing leaks, will anyone die? Can it cause an explosion or other catastrophic loss if done poorly? Do you feel confident enough in your abilities to do it right? Can you hire that part of the work out so that you can say it was professionally done?

    If you ask the question, you dang near need a permit to take a dump.
  4. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    The plumbing work to be done is basically adding about 20 feet or so of hot water baseboard, and connecting to the existing furnace.
    Other than that, there is no additional plumbing work.
    The inspector for the electrical and plumbing is the same person as the building inspection (small town). So I guess my question is, if I am not building any structural walls, and really only framing in the interior walls of the current foundation, why do I need a building permit if I am going to pull a permit for the plumbing and electrical? (I guess I need to read up more of the Massachusetts code...basically, I just want to pull permits for the electrical and plumbing)
  5. burnham

    burnham Member

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    Yes, you need a building permit if you're going to finish the basement. If you have the electrical/plumbing inspector in your house he's going to talk to the building inspector about your job. I have seen plenty of jobs done without permits, IMO the most important thing is to hire people who know what they're doing. Do the plumbing and wiring to code, and get the rest as close as possible. It's probably a good time to look at the smoke detectors/carbon monoxide detectors in the house as well.
  6. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    whazza permit? we don't have those in my small town. get 'er dun.
  7. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Burnham, in this case, the building inspector, wiring inspector and plumbing inspector are all the same person.
  8. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    makes you think. is this guy going to give you a good inspection. i'm electrician, anytime i have seen a (electrical inspectors wanted) sign the requirements of the job is (got to have current electrical license). if this guy is a licensed electrician and plumber and contractor my hat is off to the guy.

    you don't need a plumbing permit to run a zone of heat. you can do your own heating system work as long as you don't touch anything to do with the oil if it's oil and gas if it's gas and the water feed if it's a steam or hot water boiler.
  9. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    In my previous home I completely finished a basement (electrical, plumbing, mechanical) without a permit. The cost of the permit is what convinced me to take the chance. I couldn't believe what they wanted in fees. And when I finally sold my home....I had a HUGE win when the city building inspector actually inspected my entire house, basement included, and approved the home for sale.

    If you make sure you follow codes and are 100% safe.....I say go for it.
  10. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    We have a friend that did the same, and did not pull a permit, but everything was up to code. Well, 6 years later, they went to sell the some, and the electrical code had changed, so the original wiring done was correct 6 years back...but then they had to redo the wiring and then have it signed off to sell the home...probably an extreme example, but I guess it could go either way. I requested that the building inspector to come out to the house before I start anything, as I found 2-3 items that are shades of grey in the building code, so I want to get his interpretation before doing anything. We decided that we are going to pull permits for all work. Thanks for all the help
  11. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    if he is the guy that does all 3 inspections make sure you get a copy of the final inspection. i say this because some towns don't send anything when the job is done. and also if you think that you'll be safe saying that no need to worry the town will always have a copy. think again. i'm in the middle of wiring a garage/workshop. when the builder went to pull a permit for the job in june so that the job could start in july they came out to the site and said whooo all stop nothing is going to start until the home owner and i straighten out this addition that was put up with out a permit. the town lost all the paperwork for that permit. i know there was a permit pulled for the addition because when it was put up 25 years ago i pulled the permit and had inspections done. so keep a copy for yourself for justin.

    good luck and if you need help with the electrical give a yell.
  12. Cire3

    Cire3 New Member

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    Wow, you mean the basement wasn't already finished and been like they forever ? ;)

    I would have it done right but heck why is the township making money off my basement ? "Just my opinion" Our township is so harsh that we all try to go around, the inspectors are a joke and are easily paid off so is it really necessary ? (#1) no one will see it being done (#2) I wouldn't want my taxes going up any more than they are "you are changing the value of the home" (#3) it's my house and no one's business if I'm not installing anything that isn't putting anyone at risk.

    I'm sorry, but around here you have to kiss some serious a$$ to get anything done and they make it nearly impossible and expensive to do it rite. Excuse me I shouldn't say rite, but "the townships way"

    My2Cents, all it's worth.

    All the best of luck
  13. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    LOL, that's my MO and it will work around here. "That was like that when i moved in." lol
  14. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    i understand how some inspectors think they should be karted around on a throne, but around here electrical permits are not expensive. one town up here charges 26 dollar to every thousand that the electrical job costs. that not alot of money considering that the money generated by the permit pays for the inspectors pay, the car he shows up in, the insurance the town has to pay and the people that do the filing of the paper work. for most of the licensed pro there is no need. i do the work the same as if were going to get inspected. no bad habits to watch out for. there are those guys out there that need their license taken away, but they are not the majority. if you have to pay off the the inspector to get the job passed then the state inspector needs a call. i've done it and it usually gets results. i'm not saying that you should not pull a permit. some towns allow home owners permits. that allows you to do the job your self and get the proper inspection just in case something does happen you'll have proof that the job was done right for your insurance company.
  15. RAY_PA

    RAY_PA Feeling the Heat

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    my grandpa always told me it was ALOT easier to ask forgivness than to get permission! ...I still make decisions on that quote.
  16. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    I am SO glad that I live in a place where I don't need any permits for any work that I do inside my own home. I do the work carefully, and follow safety standards.
  17. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    if you don't have inspections, how do you know that you are doing approved work?
  18. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    I tend to feel that most inspections are to protect those who don't know what they are doing and make a few bucks off of those who do know what they are doing.
  19. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    Well, I guess I can now understand why folks don't pull permits for renovations.
    I went down on the building department on Dec 28th and let them know what I wanted to do...they gave me a 2 page handout of things that would need to be in place before the permit could be pulled, and there were 2 items I just had questions on....one, was that the foundation needed to be waterproofed...the inspector asked that I give him the detail sheets on the product I was going to use (Dry Lok) and I did so on 12/29...so, after phone calls and emails, they have yet to contact me back to see if the product meets their needs.......lady at the inspectors office keeps teeling me that the inspector will touch base with me.....well the timeframe has come and gone...I understand that they are leery of giving permits to homeowners, but this is not a tough job...finishing off 400 feet in a basement, come on....this is freaking rediculous.....I can understand why contractors don't like to work in certain towns/cities. Problem is, you still have to kiss ass and be real nice, as if I press the issue I am just going to make them upset and they will be a pain in the ass on the sign off.
    Sorry for the rant, but I guess that felt good :)
  20. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    We have to get a permit for just about anything.
    Saying goes: Paper, paint, or plastic - anything else needs a permit.

    Too many contractors just won't take on projects here because of them and the constant changes.

    They're basically a tax.
    I don't mind the retired guy next door on a fixed income not paying the town for my record-keeping and inspections.

    Doesn't seem totally fair to expect to be able to bring a 50 year old house up to current new-build codes.
    My basement that had a raised floor can't be replaced or repaired because it won't meet current height requirements for a new-build ? Magic Johnon is NEVER going to live here. Trust me.
    Shouldn't require a general contractor to come up with creative ways around new rules nor a lawyer to find loop-holes in wording.
    Nor petitioning the state for relief to only end up with Town admins watching you for the rest of thier term(s).
  21. burnham

    burnham Member

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    Being an electrician I have to complete a 21 hour code refresher course every three years. There is usually about six hours of good information about code changes, and then the rest is BS. The guy who puts it on sits in on the code panel, which is the group of people who write the code. He says many times when people have a product to sell they will present it to the code panel, along with a reason why they think there should be a law making it mandatory. A lot of inspectors don't know the difference between a law that is impractical and one that has a place, and they just enforce the code the way its written.....or the way they think it's written. If I'm lucky, the guy inspecting my work has actually worked with the tools within the last twenty years, or even better yet been in business himself. I do work without permits at times, but I do like having my work inspected. I have had inspectors bring up valid points, and have a better or smarter way of doing some things.
  22. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    And, here's the problem. Interpretations. WTH? The code should be written to exclude that. Some inspectors will interpret the code how THEY want things done, and here we've been doing things to "code" for quite a while. Now, because of some interpretation, it's not to code. BS.
    Some dept's get a fee every time they make a visit. How many things can we find wrong, and how many times can we do that? Mo' money. BS.
    Real situations, real people, real BS.
    No problem with codes, but sometimes they just don't work as designed.
    Example, we worked on a remod for a guy. Everything was down to studs. He (or his "carpenter") repartitioned a couple rooms, and the headers were doubled 2x4's on the FLAT. 'scuse me? Needless to say, sagging was VERY apparent, yet,....it passed. Those walls will NEVER be right.

    I built a pole barn, and had the basic structure inspected since it's kinda large and easily seen. I added windows, electrical, and insulation w/o inspection. Son-in-law is an electrician. I did all the work, then had him take a look at it. He said, "nice work, you did it right". I knew that.
    Sorry, but inspections can be a sore point.
  23. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

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    welcome to the world of a contractor
    now people can somewhat understand why,
    what appeares to be a simple project costs so much
    i am an environmental contractor
    lead based paint, asbestos,mold and radon
    add in goverment regulation on these and it
    becomes a nightmare
  24. drdoct

    drdoct Feeling the Heat

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    Sorry folks but you don't really own the land or home you are inhabiting. The govt (on every level) has taken the power over everything we own. From eminent domain abuse to small town building inspections to raise home values even after the real estate bubble. They control it all. I pulled a permit once because I enclosed my carport and within a day of studding it in they came by and asked for my permit. It added another $400 just to enclose my carport! Unless it's visible then I wouldn't pull anything because I honestly hate the grubby govt idiots. But that's just me.
  25. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    I would only pull a permit for a large or very visible project . The small amount of work in the basement build out does not warrant an permit just make sure it's done to code and you will have no problems with a future sale or inspection.

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