Your new home has “lovely bones,” but some of the surface coverings are relics from a different era. To be frank, they are vastly unsuitable for the needs of your family. It’s time to renovate.
Hold on a moment. Unless you’re only doing some minor cosmetic upgrades, just about everything you want to do probably needs a permit from the Department of Buildings (DOB). And, if you’re thinking of skipping this step because you don’t believe anybody will notice — forget it.
The fines for doing construction work without a permit can be quite high. For a single-family home or a two-family brownstone, for example, the minimum penalty you face for a missing permit is $500 — but you could pay a lot more (up to four times the original filing fee you would have paid for the permit).
Then, of course, you’ll have attracted the attention of the building inspector (and, quite possibly, their ire). Your work will be inspected. If it isn’t up to code, you face additional renovations and fees — if the work doesn’t have to be torn entirely out. That could run you thousands of dollars more than your project intended.
If you do try to sneak some renovations in without a permit, you could damage the equity in your property and make it very difficult to sell later. That’s generally not something you want, especially if you hope to eventually move to another area.
Don’t take chances with a missing permit if you want to do renovations on a home. Similarly, don’t buy a home that’s been renovated without the proper permits until you understand exactly what liability you may have.