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Thursday, May 26, 2016
So we'll need permits?

Q. We just moved into our first house. We knew before we bought it that we wanted several changes, started opening walls with family/friends and realized it was a bigger job than we thought. My dad wants to strip the “popcorn” ceiling and repaint it, but the ceiling underneath looks like rough brown paper, and paint is just soaking in. Should we let my dad spackle the whole ceiling? Second, the contractor told us that because the work is all inside, we won’t need a permit, and that the deck we want won’t be attached to the house and won’t need a permit, either. What do you think?

A. Ha! You got to hear one of many fallacies told to homeowners every day. It just happened to be your day. Of course the contractor says this. Why would he care if you get a violation on your home? He (or she) knows that the system only penalizes the homeowner, not the person who caries out the crime, so they’re free to keep telling people this story to get started right away, and get paid right away.

There are lots of lies told to homeowners, and what it does, if you’re caught doing work without a permit, is stop the job, immediately, leaving you hanging with a mess until plans and permits are obtained and your summons is resolved in court, which you’ll have to take time off from work for. You’ll fight for parking, have your belongings searched, and stand in a corridor overhearing attorneys telling their clients how to plead. Add to that the abuse of being treated like a criminal by a judge who will speak to you harshly and doesn’t really want to hear your tale of woe, and your municipality’s attorney, who will tell you where to sit, when to speak, and go along with the bad treatment.


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