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Property Pros: Pulling Permits

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This is a sponsored column by Jim Muldoon, a Northern Virginia native, Arlington resident and one of the real estate and remodeling experts at Legacy Home Improvement Consultants. Legacy HIC is your source for all real estate and home improvement needs. Please email with any questions or topics you would like covered.

Pulling permits is an important part of remodeling. A lot of clients tend to shy away from them with smaller projects because they add time and cost. I am here to get you informed, so the process doesn’t seem as complicated. Permitting is a little bit different in every county, so let me give you a quick rundown of what to expect in Arlington.

For smaller interior renovations, the square footage of the area affected and the trades being used will determine the price of the permit. Once an interior renovation removes or adds walls, the building permits will require drawn plans.  For exterior projects like decks, additions, and roof replacements, the county will want three sets of drawings as well as the plat of the home. Depending on the scope of work, a site and grading plan and a stamped engineer plan might be necessary. If that is the case, the review process can take a couple of weeks depending on how busy the county office is.

A homeowner can pull any permit. That option can be helpful when you have paid for a set of plans and you want them going to review while your contractor is pricing out the project. I would submit them under “contractor to be determined” and then add their license once you have come to an agreement. On smaller projects, it is also a way to keep cost down.

However, I always recommend using your contractor to pull the permits and here is why. First, it will vet that your contractor is licensed to handle the size of your project. Next, walking in a permit takes time and if the reviewer has any questions they will contact your contractor directly. The fee for your contractor to pull the permit should also include scheduling the inspections, meeting the inspectors, and closing out the permit. Sounds easy enough, but county inspectors schedule in 2-3 hour windows which start to really add up when there are multiple inspection check points.

Those check points are a great mark to tie your payment plan to because once an inspector signs off on the work, you also can. Another advantage for having your contractor running the permit process is if there is a minor adjustment needed to spec a permit to close, your contractor is there and can possible rectify the issue without having to reschedule an inspection.

Once a permit is closed, it is an official record that verifies the type of improvement you made to the home, the professional grade of the contractor you hired, and that the remodel was constructed up to the standards of the county building codes. Always ask to get a copy of the “final” once the permit has been closed. The county does keep records, but you should have them on file as well. This is extremely valuable for re-sale purposes, as well as your own peace of mind.

If you have specific questions about a remodel you are considering, give me a call at 703-953-9387 or call the County Inspectors office directly at 703-228-3800. Please email me at [email protected] with any questions or topics you would like me to discuss in the future. Be sure to follow us on Instagram @LegacyHomesDMV and like our Facebook page Legacy Home Improvements for project inspiration and breaking news.

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