This is always a fun question.... and the simple answer is this... if you are doing more than cosmetic work, painting, floors etc... then you should have a permit. Permitting a project can be challenging for homeowners. With the various code changes that have occurred over the last few years, even homeowners may require expert help for even small projects. Anything that involves opening the sheet rock should have a building permit, especially when performing mechanical, plumbing and electrical changes, and definitely when the work involves structural changes.
Of course, in many areas on Cape Cod, there are other permitting requirements for your home. Any work outside the home that changes the appearance requires a historic commission permit. In some towns, there are even requirements for historic approval of landscape changes. Any time there is a change to the footprint of the home, such as a deck or addition, a site plan must be submitted to confirm that the new work will not encroach on zoning setbacks or property lines. Many towns do have an express permitting program, which makes permitting small projects like replacement windows, roofing, and siding quick and easy, even in historic districts.
So if getting a permit is so difficult, wouldn't it be easier to just do the work, especially if it is inside and no one will see? The answer is NO! Often times people will finish attic spaces, renovate or finish basements, or convert areas to bedrooms. This happens frequently, and often times is not caught by local inspectors. However, the problems start when the owner goes to sell the home, and the title V septic inspection occurs. With specific definitions of bedrooms, new, un-permitted finished rooms could be considered additional bedrooms, requiring a full upgrade of the septic system when the house is sold. This is an expensive and painful process, which is often the cause of failed attempts to sell a home, and reduced purchase prices to cover the cost of repairs.
If you have questions about permitting your next project, large or small, consult with an expert. You can contact one of the experts at REEF any time by clicking below!