Do You Need A Permit To Finish Your Basement Or No?

Building across Worcester County & Metrowest since 2016

This Is An Important Question People Near You Are Asking Remodeling Contractors

Permits, licenses, insurance, all of these are part of the process of having a remodeling contractor do a project.

In this post, you can find out if you or a contractor needs a permit to finish or remodel a basement. You can also discover when you may not need one, what could happen if you don’t, and the best move to make if your contractor recommends against getting one.

New basement remodel with a dry bar and refrigerator

Do I Need A Permit To Finish My Basement?

For the most part, finishing or remodeling a basement requires a permit. It mostly depends on the area you live in and what you’ll be doing to your basement. Adding carpet you won’t, but adding walls you will. You may also have to file architectural plans with the Department Of Buildings.

Why Do I Need A Permit To Finish My Basement?

Permits help make sure home improvement projects are done to a certain safety standard. If we didn’t have permits anyone could remodel or finish their basement however they want to.

Permits put the liability on whoever applies for it. If you hire a contractor who doesn’t get one then anything that happens is on you, the homeowner. This includes damages, injuries, and more.

It’s illegal to do home improvement projects that need a permit without getting one.

When Do I Need A Permit vs Not?

You’ll need a permit for electrical work, plumbing, HVAC, building or removing walls, and structural changes.

You usually don’t need a permit if you’re just changing the look of your basement. This could include painting, adding carpet, etc.

What Could Happen If I Don’t Get A Permit?

If you don’t get a permit to remodel your basement when you need one, you may:

  • Get a fine
  • Have the work you’ve done taken down
  • See reduced home value
  • Higher insurance rates
  • No coverage on the basement

At best you may have to submit a retroactive permit application. If it’s approved, great! If not, then you’ll have your work cut out for you.

What Should I Do If My Contractor Recommends Not Getting A Permit?

Fire them immediately. If they don’t want to get a permit to finish your basement or remodel it then something is wrong. 

Even if it’s “to save you money” please don’t do it. If they ask this then it’s likely they don’t have insurance, aren’t licensed, or both. You don’t need to accept all liability for a project.

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