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Phoenix; to permit, or not to permit; that is the question - by Gary Kiernan

Here in the Valley of the Sun, as in the rest of American, many homeowners decide to remodel rather than move. Often, it is a sound idea. However, many Phoenix residents pose the question "Should I get a permit?"

The simple answer to this conundrum is, of course, yes. If it is required by law for the work you are contemplating, one could argue that you are indeed obligated to obtain a permit. However, this does not make for a very interesting article, so let us dig a little deeper to find out why.

Firstly, is it actually required? Obviously, you do not need to pull a permit for something as simple as changing a washer on a faucet. but in some parts of the country, any alteration to the home that exceeds $500 in cost, may require a permit. Make sure to check with your local authorities before you even start on the project.

Many folks tell me they do not want to obtain a permit because they want to "save" money. The reality, usually, is that such a move would probably prove to be a false economy. Because the permit is only part of the process; the other part being the physical inspection. Many folks regard the inspector as an overbearing busybody, and I suppose one or two are, but the fact is they are extremely knowledgeable professionals who, in essence, act as a buffer between you and your chosen contractor. You could argue all day with your contractor about a detail you think is necessary all to no avail. The inspector says "do it" and it gets done. Therein lies the reason to do the job properly. An inspector checks the plans, and the completed work, to ensure that all areas of work are completed correctly, and most importantly, to the standards required by the building code. (Most municipalities adhere to the International Building Code) It is a health and safety issue, and circumventing the permit process really is, as noted earlier, a false economy.

In a previous life, I was involved in constructing a new garage on my property, which was built on a hillside, which means the code is much more stringent. Special concrete mix is required, extra rebar was necessary as was a substantial retaining wall. The inspector's advice was invaluable as he thwarted the contractor's attempt to save money (cut corners) at every turn. I shudder to think how the project would have evolved without the inspector's participation.

Also, when it comes time to sell an addition to a home constructed without a permit is not just "not a positive". It is not even a wash. It is in fact a negative as any potential buyer will not only ignore the "improvement", they may attach a negative dollar amount to it, as the city, or state, may require its complete removal.

Also, do not fall victim to a contractor telling you, "I will do it all to code, but we will just save the cost of the permit." You will just be wasting your hard earned money if you do.

Finally, if it is not added by permit, and therefore to code, it will not show up on your city/state tax records. That means that any square footage you thought you added will not be recognized by an appraiser, nor the lender who employed him, when valuing your home for a potential buyer. Still glad you "saved" money on a permit?

I am a Real Estate Broker in Arizona and have been in Real Estate for 14 years. I am also a licensed Broker in the state of California which is where I began my career. I currently practice real estate in Arizona with my wife who is a licensed sales associate also in both states. We specialize in the Greater Phoenix area concentrating on Cave Creek, Carefree, Scottsdale, Phoenix including Desert Hills, Anthem, Paradise Valley, Gilbert, Mesa and Chandler. To learn more about Gary and Shannon and Cave Creek, Arizona and the surrounding communities please visit their website at http://www.garizonaproperties.com or you may email them at skiernanc21@yahoo.com

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