No Permit? Here’s Your Sign

The house we are staying in right now is on a street with a lot of interesting activity. Across the road, a man is slowly installing a new roof. A few doors up, a family is replacing their siding.  At least, they were until a red sign appeared on each of their front doors.

Things continue to progress nicely (and legally) at 1120, but just a few blocks away it’s a different story. Somehow the city caught wind that there were some unauthorized improvements being performed. The STOP WORK signs appeared on a sunny Friday afternoon. The neighbors’ roof and siding projects were halted for several days as they filed the appropriate paperwork. Meanwhile, the beautiful Seattle summer weather slowly soured and we got our first precipitation in weeks.

If there’s a moral to this story, let it be that you should always pull permits. At least, you should when you might get caught. Or when you are doing something dangerous. Or when you don’t want to be left without insurance coverage because your work resulted in damage. Or if you care to maximize the resale value of your home.

Of course, if the local municipalities were truly serious about enforcing permits, they would station a city employee in front of Home Depot. They could easily check plates and cross-reference addresses and permits for any personal vehicle loaded with lumber, siding, pipes, or wire. In many cities, you need permits for just about anything beyond replacing an endpoint plumbing or electrical fixture. Even pulling speaker wire through a wall requires an electrical permit in some jurisdictions.

Next time you go to your local home improvement store, know that majority of the products for sale will require a permit to install. Then be thankful your friendly Department of Planning and Development doesn’t read this blog.

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2 thoughts on “No Permit? Here’s Your Sign

  1. I think it’s a great idea to have a city permits employee standing outside by the door. Scowling. Judging your terrible decision in siding.

  2. Maybe there just needs to be some sort of accounting for taste:

    “Hmm, looks like you have a lot of materials there, son. Are you sure that glass block and stucco isn’t going to clash with your Edo/Rococo fusion rambler?”

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