How Residential Building Permits are Impacting Home Projects in Connecticut
Most people are aware that the cost to build an addition or a new home has gone up in recent months. The cost of lumber was famously high just earlier this summer, and other construction materials have increased in cost as well. Some sources report that the cost of home remodeling has increased 5% to 10% compared with last year.
Residential building permits are one of the factors that play a role in the cost of performing home improvement projects. In Connecticut, permitting costs are on the rise in a dramatic way. Although permitting itself is a critical function of local government, the service is unchanging even while the fees are rising.
Before you start your upcoming home improvement project, you need to know why permits are important, what role permits play in the construction process, and how those permitting fees are impacting the price of home construction and improvement.
Why Is Permitting Important?
Permits facilitate government oversight of new construction in Connecticut and ensure that contractors are following building codes when they conduct home improvement projects. Simply put, the permitting system is designed to help ensure that homes in Connecticut are safe.
Before a contractor can start a major home improvement like a home addition or the installation of a new roof, a permit must be obtained from the city where you live.
How Do Permits Work?
While there may be small variations in the permitting process from one building department to another, overall the permitting process is consistent around the state. Here's how it works:
- You sign a contract with a general contractor. Your general contractor creates plans or makes a design for your upcoming home improvement, which you approve.
- Your contractor submits a permit application, with the finalized plans, to your local building department.
- The permit is issued within 30 days. Until the permit is issued, your contractor cannot break ground on your project.
- The building department sends inspectors to your home at various points in the construction of your project to ensure the work is being done correctly.
- The permit is closed out with a final inspection near the end of the project.
What Are the Costs to Obtain a Permit?
The cost to obtain a permit varies from one community to another, and may be increased periodically. As of today, the most expensive place in the state to obtain a permit is in New Haven, where it costs $32 for every $1,000 on the construction contract. In other words, if the cost of your home remodel is $100,000, your permit will cost $3,200.
Can You Predict Permitting Cost Increases? When Do Increases Occur?
Permitting costs have increased a lot in the last several years. Increases in some towns and cities have been greater than in others. Permitting costs in cities are often higher than in towns. There is no sure way to predict when increases will take place before they are announced, or how much they'll be.
Is There Any Way to Reduce Permitting Costs?
Since the cost of permitting is dependent on the cost of the project or contract, the only way to reduce permitting costs is to perform smaller home improvement projects. Most homeowners are not interested in reducing the scope of their project to reduce the cost of their permit. In other words, there's no effective way to save money on permits.
Are Residential Building Permits Really Necessary?
Permits are an unavoidable part of performing certain home improvement projects. Contractors who are willing to skirt the permitting process to reduce costs for homeowners are not acting in the best interest of their clients. Permits ensure that the work is done safely and correctly. Unpermitted work can be flawed, which can lead to leaks, fires, structural damage, injuries and worse.
Failure to get a permit when one is required can reduce your home's property value and may lead to delays or problems when it's time to sell your house. While it may be easy to perform a home improvement project without obtaining the necessary permits, it's not easy to walk back this kind of mistake when the time comes to sell your house.
How Can You Tell If Your Contractor Is Getting the Required Permits?
While permitting is a rising expense for homeowners, it's still important to work with contractors who follow the rules and get permits. Your contractor will likely mention the permit during the consultations and design process when your project is in the planning stages. The permit will probably be included in the contract as well.
If you don't see mention of a permit in the contract, and if your contractor doesn't bring up the permit during the planning of your project, this could be a red flag - especially if you're performing a complex project like a home addition.
- Always consult with multiple contractors when choosing a contractor for your home improvement project.
- Ask about the permit if your contractor hasn't mentioned it.
- Steer clear of contractors who offer to perform unpermitted work when a permit is required.
Find the Right Contractor for Your Home Improvement Project
When you're trying to perform a home improvement project, it's important to work with a contractor who understands and has experience with the ins and outs of performing home improvement in Connecticut.
Look for a contractor with experience and a good reputation among homeowners, business owners, and even building inspectors in the state. For more guidance, download our free guide, How to Choose a Professional Home Remodeling Contractor, where we provide tips and advice for performing home improvement projects in Connecticut.
About Kevin Ahern
Kevin is the Co-Founder of Litchfield Builders, an award-winning, industry leader with a reputation for managing projects others shy away from. They are known for their high-quality work, customer service, and reliability and though still relatively small in size, Litchfield Builders now competes with some of the areas largest firms in both the residential and commercial arenas.