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posted: 5/26/2013 1:00 AM

Permits, inspections are there for a reason: safety

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By Dwight Barnett

Q. I have planned all winter for a bathroom addition to my home. I watched DIY shows and checked information on the Internet. Once I started my addition, a state inspector showed up and told me I had to have a permit. Is this true? I own the home and I didn't ask for any inspections from the state. Can they come on my property and stop my work?

A. A permit is required to ensure the public that the work being performed will be in line with state and local codes, and safe for the occupants of the home.

No, you do not have to allow anyone on your property, but the municipality has the authority to discontinue utility services to your property until you are in compliance with the codes.

The purpose of the permit is to ensure that the installation of the plumbing system is safe, healthy and will not affect your neighbors. Codes are set to minimum standards -- and I would suspect since it is your own home you would want it to be above minimum standards.

There are codes for the structure and foundation to prevent your home from falling down, for roofing to protect the home from the weather, for grading and drainage to keep water out of the foundation, for heating and cooling to ensure a comfortable, safe environment inside the home, for insulation to keep the energy use low and for electrical installation to prevent accidental shock and to prevent the home from burning because of a short or overload of the system.

So why wouldn't you want someone in authority to check your work as it proceeds? It is expensive, unsafe and very difficult to make changes once a defect or fault is found after the work is completed. I would welcome the input from a local building authority.

Every job is different, and there is only so much you can learn from watching DIY shows, reading this column or from the library. The real-world experience of an inspector is invaluable.

• Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home improvement questions at C. Dwight Barnett at

Scripps Howard News Service

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