A new client came in last week. She is a homeowner who discovered well after her renovation project was underway that her contractor had not pulled the proper permits for the job. She is now subject to the risk that the work may not be up to code, she may be fined by the city, and work needs to be "undone" so that inspections can be made. Homeowners can suffer the consequences if the proper permits are not obtained by their contractors. In addition, in Massachusetts, the contractor must be the one to pull the permit in order for the homeowner to qualify for the Home Improvement Contractor Arbitration Program.
When a homeowner is planning a project, he/she should call the town building inspector and find out if a permit is necessary. He/she should also ask if the plans need to be filed with the city. In addition, the homeowner should make sure that the work does not require plans stamped by an architect. Certain kinds of renovations do not require an architect’s involvement, but there are projects that do. Finally, the homeowner should find out if the specifications comply with all zoning requirements, or whether variances are required.