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Old 08-30-2010, 10:39 AM
 
33 posts, read 115,946 times
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I'm considering finishing my basement in my 1926 home. We're going to go DIY, and we are looking at doing a more economical finish -- really all we want is a large square room with non-concrete walls and non-concrete floor, so basic framing, etc. No plumbing to be added, and because the finished height will be less than the 7' that Minneapolis requires for it to be considered a "basement", it will be described as a finished "crawl space." We're ok with this -- it's really more for our own family than for future resale value, etc. We just want a basement that can be used as a rec room instead of for storage -- I'm a fairly competent DIYer, have restored the rest of the house, and I plan to spend less than $2500 on materials for 350SF.

My question is on permits, and how many people actually pull them for something like this. I know that Minneapolis requires separate permits for building, electrical, and heating. But how many people actually pull the permits vs. just doing the work? In informal polling of friends, I have gotten an incredibly mixed bag of answers -- everything from "do the permits because omg you will forever be liable when you sell your home if you do ANY unpermitted work" (which I find hard to believe because I work in a real estate office and I have NEVER seen this happen, nor has my broker) to "it's a racket designed to just increase your taxes, and no one but the most gullible DIYers pull them, so don't bother."

What is your experience with this -- for those who have finished their basement or done similar work in Minneapolis, did you pull a permit or not? What was your reasoning behind your decision? I won't hold anyone to their answer -- I'm just curious as to what most everyone ends up doing.
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Old 08-30-2010, 11:16 AM
 
Location: Home in NOMI
1,635 posts, read 2,318,980 times
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It depends on how much you do and how much you're willing to pay if you're caught in an inspection. I've heard that some penalties for failure to get a permit are not significantly higher cost than the permits themselves. But, as they say, YMMV, and DYODD. Good luck -

And let us know, because I'm curious, and have to relevel the basement in my 1906 Victorian...
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Old 08-30-2010, 11:28 AM
 
33 posts, read 115,946 times
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I'm not necessarily opposed to getting permits...the permit expense is pretty negligible. I'm more curious as to what actually happens in the real world vs. what the city of Minneapolis says should happen.

For example, to replace your toilet, the city of Minneapolis wants everyone, even DIYers, to go and get a permit for that. While I can potentially see the value in pulling permits for a basement because there can be underlying safety (ie: mold) issues if it's done wrong, I find it hard to believe that someone going to Orange or Blue for a replacement toilet for their bathroom would go through the trouble of filing a permit with the city.

And if that's the case, where is the line between "screw the permit and just do it" and "get a permit, yo"? I have heard of so many people just doing the work themselves that I'm wondering if that's as commonplace as it seems to be, or if it's a statistically anomaly in my decidedly unscientific "survey." :P
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Old 08-31-2010, 06:29 AM
 
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I think the biggest issue you may run into if you don't get a permit is the electrical work. There is no way you can't add electrical to your room and that needs to be inspected. If you DON'T get it inspected, down the road you could run into some major issues with resale-not that people won't buy it but mortgage companies won't finance it. I know of a couple people that has had this happen to-they were the buyers--in one case the seller either had to tear down ALL of the work he had done in the basement and have it done under permit and all the proper inspections or he couldn't sell. It just isn't worth the chance for $50 for the permit.
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:41 AM
 
33 posts, read 115,946 times
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Yeah, totally aware of that -- luckily for me the room is already wired, and I just spoke with the city yesterday confirming that if the existing outlets were adequate for my needs and I didn't need to add/move more, I wouldn't need to pull electrical. That being said, the whole house is going to get rewired in about 18 months, and you can bet your bottom dollar I will pull a permit at that time!

I'm still interested to see if anyone is willing to chime in on what they have done in the past.
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Old 08-31-2010, 12:08 PM
 
690 posts, read 1,486,869 times
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I'll be honest. We've done a lot of home renovations and have only pulled permits twice. In our old house we added a complete bathroom with no permits and then ended up selling the house while we were still finishing. So, we had the required Minneapolis inspection while the bathroom was still clearly being installed and the inspector didn't care that we hadn't pulled permits. He even gave us a tip--take pictures of everything as you go so that if, in the future, someone has a problem with the lack of a permit you can have it "inspected" by photos instead of ripping out walls/floors to see if things were done correctly.

I can't imagine pulling a permit to replace a toilet or put up drywall.

We pull permits when something is going to be clearly visible from the street. That's about it.
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Old 09-01-2010, 11:39 AM
 
Location: Downtown Minneapolis
138 posts, read 339,427 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarbaraMN View Post
I'll be honest. We've done a lot of home renovations and have only pulled permits twice. In our old house we added a complete bathroom with no permits and then ended up selling the house while we were still finishing. So, we had the required Minneapolis inspection while the bathroom was still clearly being installed and the inspector didn't care that we hadn't pulled permits. He even gave us a tip--take pictures of everything as you go so that if, in the future, someone has a problem with the lack of a permit you can have it "inspected" by photos instead of ripping out walls/floors to see if things were done correctly.

I can't imagine pulling a permit to replace a toilet or put up drywall.

We pull permits when something is going to be clearly visible from the street. That's about it.
I agree. I only pull permits if the neighbors can see what I am doing. I do however pull them for funace and gas water heaters. I don't like to mess around with gas or electrical. Also - some cities are stricter than others. If you live in an old house in St. Louis Park... good luck trying to sell. I sold a house there back in 2002. The city gave me a punch list of about 20 items I had to repair before closing.
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Old 09-02-2010, 03:12 PM
 
33 posts, read 115,946 times
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Thanks for the feedback! This echos what I have found on my own as well.

As it turns out, my basement is wetter than I had anticipated, so before I get started on the whole "remodel" project I will have to brush up on my skills of "installing block windows"....which, of course, requires a permit.
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:56 PM
 
2,538 posts, read 4,264,872 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qwerty View Post
I think the biggest issue you may run into if you don't get a permit is the electrical work. There is no way you can't add electrical to your room and that needs to be inspected. If you DON'T get it inspected, down the road you could run into some major issues with resale-not that people won't buy it but mortgage companies won't finance it. I know of a couple people that has had this happen to-they were the buyers--in one case the seller either had to tear down ALL of the work he had done in the basement and have it done under permit and all the proper inspections or he couldn't sell. It just isn't worth the chance for $50 for the permit.
I'm curious as to the source of these claims, as in 20+ years I've never heard of a lender even checking if electrical work had permit pulled. Now, if some DIY did a horrible/unsafe job and the home inspector flags it as such, then a bank will definitely balk at financing a potential fire trap. These are two very different situations. Even if you do not pull a permit(required or not), you are legally obligated to follow code in ALL circumstances. I could care less if something was permitted as long as it was done right and to code. The opposite is also true. If you've ever watched 'Holmes on Homes' there have been plenty of shows were the electrical was permitted and "passed" but was a waiting time bomb.
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