Finishing a basement can add quite a bit of extra living area to your home.
With a finished basement, you may finally have a space for that craft room, home gym, or movie theater you have always wanted.
There are a lot of expenses that go along with finishing a basement.
One of those is the cost to get a permit.
Some homeowners who are looking to save a bit of money will think about skipping the permit process.
If you are wondering whether or not this is illegal, we have all of the information that you need.
Is It Illegal to Finish a Basement Without a Permit?
Finishing a basement without a permit will end up leaving you with some serious fines and potential tax implications as well.
The local building code for your area will determine how much these fees will be.
There are building codes in place to help to make sure that people and buildings are safe and inhabitable.
If people are not following these recommendations and requirements, there is no way to tell if the homes being built are safe.
Let’s take a look at some more detailed information about the cost of a finished basement permit and the positives and negatives of getting one.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Permit to Finish a Basement?
The cost of finishing a basement is often quite high.
You will have to pay for contractors to get the walls and ductwork hidden and then for the finishing touches to make the basement feel more like home.
The reason it tends to cost so much to finish these basements is that they are often very large.
Most people have a basement the size of the entire main floor of their home.
With the basement being this large, there will be a need for the extra supplies, materials, and the time of a contractor.
This is a very similar price to getting an entire floor of your home remodeled.
The cost of a permit in the grand scheme of the entire project is actually relatively low.
For most basements, the price of a permit will be around $500 to $2000.
The pricing will vary depending on the size of the project, the location where you live, and the timing in which you want to complete the process.
We strongly recommend that, even though the permit is an extra cost, it is one that needs to be incorporated into the total cost of your project.
Aside from costing quite a bit, permits can be a bit annoying to deal with.
You will have to get initial approval and final approval, and certain parts of your basement plan may not be possible to keep the basement up to code.
The building code is also continually changing.
It is best to work with a contractor who has an excellent understanding of the local building codes so that they can make sure your project can be completed with no additional costs or concerns.
Why Are Basement Permits Necessary?
Basement permits are necessary to make sure that people stay safe.
If a basement is built without the proper specifications, it could be unsafe for people to inhabit.
A basement that is unsafe could be a fire hazard or even have issues with the environmental conditions.
The humidity could be off, and there may even be mold issues.
The list of issues that can pop up from not having a permit is quite long.
One of the major complications that will arise from putting in a basement is the entrances and exits.
There are very specific requirements for making sure that people can get in and out of the basement, especially in the situation of a fire.
There must be an egress window in a basement.
The size of this window must be larger than 20” by 24” so that a person would be able to get themselves out.
On the outside of the house, there needs to be room for the person to be able to escape from the window in the basement.
The process of adding egress windows may require some excavation, but it is a must when you are trying to complete a finished basement.
When you purchase a home, it is indeed yours to renovate and change however you would like.
However, homeowners take on a general responsibility of keeping people safe while they are inside their homes.
Benefits of Getting a Permit to Finish a Basement
Even though you will have to pay for a permit for your basement, there are plenty of benefits that you will get from it.
Here are a few of the benefits of getting a permit to finish your basement.
The most important benefit to getting a permit to finish your basement is that your home will be safer.
You can rest assured knowing that everything in the home is built to keep the occupants safe the entire time they are in it.
Without these safety precautions, you will often be wondering about what would happen should there be a fire in your basement.
The code is usually quite strict, and some of what they demand will seem a bit over the top.
However, when you are talking about the safety of people, families, and children, these recommendations are undoubtedly worth following.
Sometimes getting a permit will help homeowners have peace of mind that their home is indeed a safe place to live.
2. Resale Value
Adding a finished basement to your home will increase the price at which you can sell the home.
The basement will be additional living space, and therefore, more buyers will be interested in the property.
Some basements also have additional bedrooms and bathrooms, which will help the stats on the home look quite a bit better.
The resale value of a home is also impacted by the fact that the basement was done with a permit.
When there is no permit in place, the resale value on the home could actually go down.
This is not a positive thing, and it will end up making the entire basement project seem much less worth it.
Every time you make an improvement to your home, you should be considering the costs and how it will impact your resale value.
3. Fines and Fees
Another great benefit of getting a permit to finish a basement is that you won’t be left paying extra fines and fees.
If it is discovered that you have a finished basement and you never got permits, you will be subject to some serious fines and fees.
These fees will, without a doubt, be much more expensive than the original price of a permit.
This is something which should be seriously considered when deciding whether or not to get a permit for your basement.
Negatives of Getting a Permit to Finish a Basement
As you can tell from our list of benefits for getting a permit to finish a basement, there are some really strong reasons to complete this process.
There are really only two negatives with deciding to finish a basement.
The first is the price of the permit itself, and the second is that your taxes will likely go up.
When you get the permit to finish your basement, your home’s amount of living space will also very likely increase.
With increased home space, you will notice an increase in taxes.
Very often, the taxes of a home are based on the square footage of the house.
One thing to remember is that, even with an increase in taxes, you will probably pay less than you would when you would encounter fines for not following the proper procedures to finish the basement.
In other words, the slight difference in taxes is much better than having to pay fees and fines down the road.
As we mentioned, the permit’s initial cost is a bit of an annoyance.
However, compared to the total cost of the basement project, the permit is a small cost.
What Happens If I Didn’t Get a Permit to Finish My Basement?
When you don’t get a permit to finish your basement, you are going to encounter a few issues down the road.
The first of these issues is that it could be found that you had no permit, and you will very likely have to pay fees.
These fees will be assessed until you get a permit to finish the space.
The cost of a permit after the fact is going to be quite high, and it will be combined with the fees that you are subject to as well.
Clearly, this will add up to quite a bit of money being shelled out.
Chances are the punishment for not getting a permit to finish your basement will be no harsher than fees.
However, the fees will be high enough to make you wish you had finished your basement correctly.
Another issue you will run into is the problem with trying to sell a house that does not have the proper permits.
This is a lot to put on a new homeowner, and they will likely be looking for some sort of compensation from you for having to get a permit on the basement.
Although this problem may not cost you the sale of the home, there is a chance that it could end up being an expensive mistake to make.
Lastly, if you don’t get a permit on your basement, there could be a chance that there was a code requirement that you were not aware of.
These requirements could end up saving a life.
When it comes to things like easements or air quality and inspections of load-bearing capabilities, you won’t want to skimp out on the process.
The fact that you didn’t get a permit for your basement may never catch up to you, or it could end up costing you quite a bit of money.
Most homeowners are not willing to take this chance, and they would rather live according to the rules of their local building code.
Permitting requirements for a basement are going to cost you both time and money.
If you think that it may be a good idea to skip this process and move along with a basement renovation anyway, think again.
You will save a few thousand dollars upfront, but in the long run, it will cost you quite a bit more.
Getting caught with projects around the house that are not up to code will potentially cause you major problems when it comes time to sell your home.
If you want the most return on your investment, you must do things by the book.
Getting a permit to finish a basement is well worth the money that you pay.