Most cities, towns and counties have established building codes that tend to vary from one jurisdiction to another. Trying to figure out the maze of overlapping local, state and federal regulations can be extremely frustrating. This is where your professional remodeling contractor is invaluable. The complex elements of local building codes and permits are familiar details to a remodeling contractor. A professional who works in your city or town every day will know the local requirements as a standard course of business.

Generally, a building permit is required whenever structural work is involved or when the basic living area of a home is to be changed. For example, if you have a home with an unfinished basement and would like to finish off a portion of it for a family room, you would need a building permit in most jurisdictions because you have changed storage space to livable space. Some jurisdictions have strict rules about this kind of change.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) recommends that you do not obtain your own building permits. In most jurisdictions, the individual who obtains the permit is considered to be the contractor and is, therefore, liable if the work does not comply with local building codes. Let your contractor assume that liability. It is part of what you are paying for. It is also the only way you can protect yourself.