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Why Won’t My Basement Contractor Pull a Permit?

We recently had a prospective client come back to us after choosing another contractor, only to realize they likely were making the wrong choice.

Why?

They said things “took a turn for the weird” and that this basement company “doesn’t pull permits” which immediately was a red flag for the homeowners. Their first question back to us was if we pulled permits and yes, yes we do.

But it may help to understand why some basement contractors don’t pull permits.

“Saves” You on Paying Taxes

Some basement finishing companies will say that by not pulling a permit, you’re saving on the cost of the permit (which actually isn’t much in the grand scheme of things) AND the square footage of your home isn’t updated in the assessor’s listing which will save you in taxes. Why does that feel wrong even typing it?

That’s because it is. Yes, many people have gotten away with finishing their basement and never having to pulled a permit but there are a lot of things wrong with that.

  • It’s illegal
  • If you get caught, the consequences are hefty for both the homeowner and basement contractor
  • It’s ultimately an integrity issue

We talked to the Chief Inspector at the City of Omaha and here’s what he had to say about filing permits.

They Can’t Actually Pull a Permit

There are some pre-requisites to pulling a permit including being a licensed contractor and also being bonded. Without furnishing proof of both of those things, a basement contractor can’t actually pull a permit.

Additionally, you have to be in good standing with the city (AKA no outstanding violations) so if your contractor doesn’t pull a permit, one of these issues may be the case.

They’re Shortcutting The Work to Avoid Inspection

A portion of the cost of a permit pays for the city to release inspectors during the basement finishing process to check that work is being done up to code.

This means the framing, electrician, and plumbing are inspected throughout the process to make sure everything is up to code. (Inadvertently, it means that the electrician and plumber you’re using are also licensed.)

A basement contractor trying to avoid inspection could be an indication that they might cut corners to save on costs or labor. Saving a buck seems appealing, but we all know that cutting corners in the short term often means someone has to pay for it later.

Summary

If you decide on a basement contractor that doesn’t pull permits or brushes off the idea of doing so, it’s important to ask them why. And if they can’t give you an answer that makes you feel comfortable, maybe you need to find another basement company.

As the saying goes: If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.

Call Hawthorne Finished Basements if you want things done right and done well- (402) 321-5260.

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