Let’s Talk Permits

Joel Sandman, GRI
Published on May 29, 2019

Let’s Talk Permits

Considering adding on to or altering your current home?

You’ll need a permit for that!

One of the more frustrating issues I have come across in recent memory is when a homeowner finds out they will need to gain a permit for an area they decided to DIY on their current home. Even worse they had a contractor who would build it for cheaper without going through the permitting process. While not all improvements require permits, many do. A good rule of thumb is if the project involves plumbing, electrical, altering the structure (moving walls or foundation work) or if the cost exceeds $30,000 you will likely need a permit. If you have any doubt, your best bet is to call your local county or city building inspector.

How and why to obtain permits in Winston-Salem, NC

While you may love your home and think that you will live there forever, that’s rarely the case. The average home seller spent 9 years in their current home before they decided to sell according to the 2018 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. So while it may be your dream home today, life has a way of changing.

Reasons Homeowners Choose Not to Get a Permit

Why should I get a permit?
  1. They don’t want to pay the extra cost of the permitting process
    • While this may seem like it will save you money at the time it will cost you must more when you sell your home and the space can’t be included in the square footage.
    • If you have hired a contractor and they don’t want to pull permits, what does that say about the quality of their work? Most trades are required to pull permits or they can be disciplined by their organizations.
  2. Homeowners don’t want to get go through the hassle of dealing with the government
    • Any reputable contractor will pull the permits for you. They do this all the time, they are familiar with the process and know the people to speak with.
    • Permits can be pulled yourself by starting at the city of Winston Salem’s online BuildIt permitting system.
  3. Nobody will know if I don’t get a permit.
    • False! Any hard working agent will check the same online permitting system if they suspect an area may be not be permitted. From the online system we can search by permit #, home address and more. If we can’t find what we need there, we’ll call the department directly.
    • Certain things can throw up red flags including a discrepancy in tax records for square footage, number of bathrooms or bedrooms or even a new deck.

What can you do if you have un-permitted space and you want to sell?

Just because you didn’t get a permit originally doesn’t mean you are out of luck. Fortunately we have a great inspection department here in Winston Salem that want to help work towards a solution. In fact, in 2018 the inspections department was recognized nationally for their cooperative work with homeowners. Generally the un-permitted space will need to be inspected and new permits will need to be filed for. Any work that is not up to the current building code will need to be rectified as well.

If I can help with any further questions, please feel free to contact me!

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