7 On Your Side: Construction permits - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7 On Your Side: Construction permits

Do you need a permit to renovate your house? What happens if you don't get one? KPLC's Theresa Schmidt looks at how to determine the answers to these questions.

Homeowner Mark Stauffer has been living in the same house for 35 years, and he has decided it's time to make some updates.

"We're removing an inside wall to make a more open space and actually moving the kitchen to the opposite (side) of the room, making it an open kitchen with an island," Stauffer said.

"There is electrical, plumbing and structural work being done, and all those require permits," Stauffer added.

Although laws vary depending on where you live, most require that you not build, move, significantly alter or add to a building without a permit.

"It actually provides you important protection. For example, in some scenarios, a contractor must be licensed in order to get the permit, so it adds an extra layer of protection for you," said Angie Hicks of Angie's List.

The permit for smaller projects can be about $100 or less, while permits for larger projects can cost $900 or more.

If you skip the permit process to save a buck, Hicks warns that it could cost you in the long run.

"If you skip pulling a permit you might end up paying fines. It could stop the work being done. They may make you redo it. In some scenarios, when it comes down to electrical work and the electrical work causes a fire, your homeowner's insurance may not cover it," Hicks said.

Hicks also said that if your contractor asks you to pull your own permits, it could be a red flag indicating that the contractor isn't insured or doesn't have the required license.

To see if your home improvement project requires a permit, check with your local building department.

Copyright 2014 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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