Upgrading HVAC/minor remodeling do you pull a permit?

It never occured to me that we should have filled out permits and paid fees to our local government, just changing out a furnace and water heater recently.

We hired a licensed contractor to do the work. It seems like it would have been a bigger hassle than it already was, to coordinate the schedule of myself, the workers and the inspector just to upgrade a few appliances. On top of that who knows what minor nitpicks he would find in violation of the code? And I know he would nitpick it because it’s an older home with a few quirks and he might not understand the water system we picked. Not mention the pile up of fees for every length of pipe run, outlet installed or appliance installed. What is the real point? Besides a conduit to my pocketbook?

Homeowners do you faithfully get your plumbing/electrical/mechanical permits filled?

It depends. One of the contractors we hire frequently insists on pulling a permit if there is any electrical or plumbing work. However, he will do carpentry without a permit even in the cases where a permit is required.

I never pull a permit when I do the work myself. The only close call I’ve ever had was when we replaced our HVAC system and the inspector noticed that a room adjacent to the utility closet had been stripped down to the framing. He said, “You’ll have to get a permit for that.” I told him that I would but I didn’t and he didn’t follow up on it.

I had my HVAC replaced last year and the company I hired told me that unlike most of the other local companies they do permit the work. The guy explained that it was to protect me with my homeowner’s insurance (so in case of heating fire they wouldn’t deny the claim.) I didn’t mind and it seemed reasonable.

Hmm, I just realized that when I had my A/C and air filter installed, it was a pretty big HVAC and electrical job, which involved a new breaker and cutting through ductwork, and the company that did it never even mentioned a permit. They’re a huge local company, too. They probably service 75% of all the residences in this area.

It is a pain to get permits tho. But I get them now. I hadn’t seen Holmes on Homes when I had the A/C installed…that Mike Holmes is crazy about permits. “They’re there for your protection.”

When I had my deck done I had to get like 3 or 4 inspections and that was a pain. But at least I know my deck was constructed properly. I had to get 2 inspections for my new shed, which made me happy because I know the pad is graded properly and stuff.

I’ll only get permits for big jobs. The last time I went to get a permit for a small DIY job, is most likely the last time I walk into that building.

There were a few of us waiting there at the desk, and a guy comes out and asks if anyone needs help with anything. I ask him for help and he basically says “Not my job, figure it out for yourself.” Thanks, buddy, I’ll take your advice.

I didn’t get one for my water heater (which I did myself), but if I had a contractor doing any kid of work, I would. Also, to take it one step further. If the contractor pulls the permits himself, I’d go to the city and double check that he actually pulled them. As others have said, it’s for my protection. I’d rather shell out a few dollars now, then find out years later the contractor did shoddy work and have no recourse. Remember, you’re not just paying for a piece of paper, you’re paying for a third party to come out and make sure everything is up to snuff.

ETA, I do get worried though, the people I bought my house from built a ‘bonus’ room in the basement with no permit. To this day I kick myself for not stipulating that they pull a permit on it as part of me buying the house. IIRC, I think it’s the person who get’s caught with the unpermitted work that get’s in trouble. I don’t think I can say “it was like that when I got here.” Even so, I did keep the flyer from the house when I bought it that says the basement has a ‘bonus’ room. There may even be a picture of it on the flyer.

Requirements vary wildly from state to state, and county to county.

The last county I was in had a $500 threshold - under that amount, and permits were optional. As a result, I did not need to pull a permit to replace a gas wall furnace that I bought at Home Depot for $399 or so, but I did take advantage of the gas utility’s willingness to inspect the installation and light the pilot. Best of both worlds - not paying for a permit and inspection by someone from the county, but the work was professionally inspected and passed.

If this threshold and/or free inspection by the utility didn’t exist, I’d have pulled a permit - anything that has the potential to explode and level the neighborhood deserves respect and multiple sets of eyes to ensure it’s done properly.

The requirements do vary wildley!

I wonder how far some cities go to make sure their residents pull all their permits,be it inside or out, building a wall, painting, paving a driveway, installing a fan, runnning electric. It probably helps when a city has the cooperation of the building trades. Imagine if the city can get all building trades to apply for a license to do business there, then the city can make sure they get their required permit fees too! YMMV.

I can live with making an informed choice, sometimes we permit sometimes we don’t. Now the dollar limit is an interesting exception for a permit. I think that there are some DIY’s could endanger themselves for less than a $100!

We pulled a permit for adding an additional 100 amps to the overall household service, though it all went to the barn after it came into the breaker box. We hired an electrician, made sure he was registered and insured. We do not want the house or barn burned down over faulty wiring just to have the insurance company deny it for the simple bit of paper the permit is.

We are slowly working on the house and barn with an eye towards selling it off in a few years, so we are going in and actually correcting all the fuck ups done by the previous owners.

Right now, i am concerned with the small ice dam we have on the roof right now, but mrAru cant get out onto the roof until this weekend, he gets home after dark and I am not letting him climb around on a roof after dark unless it is an emergency.

Hmm, I always assumed if you hired someone to do work for you, they would make sure to get all the necessary permits.


[qualifier] I am a licensed HVAC/Plumbing and Electrical contractor. [qualifier]

It is my [extensive] experience that homeowners have a logical------but misguided, in my view----- view that a home inspection means that everything is okeeydokeey. Often it is not. A home inspection is done at 30,000 feet and can often only tell you the most cursory things about a house and it’s various components. (just think about it; how likely is that any individual is knowledgeable about everything in a house?) You can find tales of woe in the The Barn House forum.

For the same reasons, an “inspection/permit” should be taken with the same level of suspicion. While I hold inspectors in much higher esteem than home inspectors, you should know that “meeting code” doesn’t mean it’s good quality work, properly set up, efficiently running or that you won’t have problems later.

The codes deal largely with safety. You can be relatively comfortable that meeting code means it was installed safely. A job that is shoddy, sloppy and unprofessional may actually meet code. In other words, codes speak to safety, not quality.

The only permit I ever got was for a garage extension which turned into a new garage. It forced me to review the latest requirements which is a good thing. I’m also going to retro-fit the newer requirements such as hurricane clips when I get a chance. I did have to argue with the inspector over a few things after-the-fact and he passed my construction methods. Instead of corner braces I installed an attic floor which served the same function. The underground wiring I used was approved by the city but the inspector didn’t like it. Since I ran it in conduit he passed it. I don’t know if the code changed in the middle of my project but the city did work with me.

With that said, no, I don’t get permits for every little thing.

The important thing is that if you DO go through the permit process it is important to review the requirements ahead of time. I know someone who had to replace every electrical outlet in a new structure because of the new style ofchild resistant outlets. You wouldn’t think it was necessary in a garage but it was an expensive and time consuming lesson to learn.

I had my AC and my furnace replaced recently. It never occurred to me that I might need a permit. I would have assumed that the contractor would either get one for me or tell me to get one if I needed one. Since he did neither, I didn’t even think about it.

I’m curious – do insurance companies really do this on claims? Does anyone here know?

I used to work for a major insurance company, and yes, if the house was modified without permit or inspection it was a cause to deny a claim. Think of it as self induced arson.

About the only way that you can fight that type of denial is to figure out how to prove it was not YOU that did the work.

Just get the damned permit, and get the damned inspection.

But I guess my question is, how do they know? Do they acquire a complete permit history for every house involved in a claim? And what about non-permitted work done before you owned the house? Seems like they could weasel out of paying almost any claim.

Say your house burns down, and the fire investigator says that it was because the 1920 craftsman fried because someone tied in what appeared to be proper electrical outlets to an old post and wire system [which in real life can cause the ancient wiring to overheat and start a fire, that is why it is illegal to do so.] to the space that you decided to turn into a super spiffy home theater. Can you prove that you did not do this wiring? Can you prove that the people who previously owned the place did it? If that room was not called a home theater in the MLS listing, or the presale inspection report investigators will declare that you illegally did the modification without either an electrician or a permit. If you decide to put a line in to add a dryer to the basement, do you know enough about installation to change out the fuse at the box you are tying into to get the proper amperage? Do you even know if you can handle that amperage addition on your electrical system? Many houses in the US that are pre 1050 have 40 or 60 amp service, and currently 100 amp is the industry minimum and believe me, with all the electrical crap people have now, 200 is getting to be pretty low end. We had to make the house 200 amp service, and an a hundred amp service to the barn to manage the amount of electrical use we are managing.

The investigators will check for permits, and will ask about inspectors and electricians, or HVAC or gas installs.

I’ve been a contractor for 20 years and have never had an insurance inspector look for anything like that; no permits, no documentation, no questions about work that was done------- nothing.

In fact, (IANAL) but I’d be hard pressed that it matters. I would venture that most fires have some component of neglect in them. My homeowners policy has no provision not paying due to um permitted work.

Hell, thats what insurance is, risk sharing. In fact my lawyer and his doctor friend just totally burned down the doctors house over an errant electrical issue.

I think the “insurance company won’t pay if you didn’t permit it” is an urban myth.

I voted “Who says a permit is required?” because I had a water heater and new HVAC done in early December and the contractor never told me that a permit was needed. I suppose that is part of the price deal I got, because I just looked it up and my city requires it. But now I don’t know if I should 'fess up to the city.

I live in a third class county. Permits are required for new construction, that’s it.