Why homeowners should not pull a permit

As an Architect I come across many homeowners who would like to perform their own renovations or pull their own permits to oversee the construction team or project.

By law, MA homeowers are allowed to obtain their own builing permit for renovations and improvments to their homes. While you are allowed to pull a permit it is very important to know that it comes with significant responsibility and risk.

I do not recommend any homeowner who isn't a licneced contractor pull their own permit. It is exteremly important that the permit holder has significant experience and an up-to-date knowledge of all related state and local requirements. It is imperative that you have a keen knowledge of all that is required to comply with the MA codes and not knowing can cause significant problems and potentially cost thousands of dollars to rectify. Meeting Structural and Energy code requirements are one of many examples of code requirements that will need to be removed and rectified if not complient.

When a homeowner obtains a building permit they are not eligible to access the Guaranty Fund established by the Home Improvement Law that was created to protect homeowners from losses incurred as a result of contractor or sub-contractor work performed in a poor or un-workmanlike manner, or work that violated code. Even if a contractor abandonds the job beacuse he priced it to low, the money lost cannot be recovered.

Even if a homeowner obtains the building permit, everyone performing construction work is required to be registered in accordance with the Home Improvement Law. This includes contractors who perform remodeling, window replacement, siding, insulation, demolition, roofing and masonary work. I recommend avoiding any contractor who agrees to perform work without permits for code related work, for cash payments, or don't provide evidance of insurance.

Further, it is a requirement that all state (IRC) and local codes be present onsite during construction. If you do not possess these books, it is a clear indication that you shouldn't pull your own permit.

I only align with homeowners who intend to hire a licenced contractor to build the project. While many homeowners feel they have a good handle on building and remodeling I strongly discorage anyone who isn't a licenced contractor from pulling a building permit for construction / remodeling projects.