Regardless if you are an experienced do-it-yourselfer, the days of just picking up your hammer and starting a home addition or home remodeling project are long over. It is critical that you first make your municipality aware of your home building intentions.
Municipalities are increasingly cracking down on the weekend DIY construction homeowner to protect themselves against possible future lawsuits, and to maximize their property tax revenue. If you don't contact them, be assured someone else in your neighborhood will, so before you have legal problems and fines to contend with, it is best to contact them first.
Also note that besides legal issues and fines associated with not pulling permits, municipalities also can require the destruction of the home addition.
There are federal, state and local building codes that municipalities require in home construction. These codes are in place to protect the occupants of the home, and others living near or around the home from fire, collapsed framing construction, electrical shock and many other dangers that can occur when a home or home addition is not constructed properly.
These codes also serve to protect the investment in your home. Most of today's homebuyers request a home inspection as part of the purchase and sales agreement. If a home inspection determines your home addition does not meet home construction codes then chances are the buyers will renege on their offer, and rightfully so. To ultimately sell your home you will probably need to bring your home addition or home remodeling project up to legal building codes. As a result, you will wind up ultimately spending more money in the end on the project by not pulling the permits during the pre-construction phase of it.
The other advantage in pulling the appropriate permits on a new home addition or home remodeling project is that you enable your project to be regularly checked during the construction by the local building inspector. As a result, you can feel more comfortable knowing that the project not only meets the national and local building codes, but is also safe and your financial investment is protected.
The costs of building permits are quite minor, relative to the total cost of a home addition or home remodeling project, and consequently there should be no excuse not to pull them. Yes the permit process may force you to use licensed contractors that you had previously no intention in hiring, but again this cost delta is peanuts compared to a cease and desist, or deconstruct order from the town or city.
Not pulling permits on a home addition project is fraught with danger and liabilities, and the liabilities can last the life of the home addition. Consequently, if you are planning to build a home addition, always go to your local municipal building inspector first and determine what permits you will need. In some cases you may be able to pull the permits yourself, and in other cases a licensed contractor will need to pull them for you.