Most people are not aware of the requirements for a building permit, as it applies to repairs, replacement or upgrades to existing systems, or structures. So, do I need a permit? The short answer is; “any owner or owners authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or the change of the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any parts of a structure, or system is required to pull an applicable building permit prior to commencement of work. This requirement is outlined in section 105.1 of the Florida Building Code; which in turn has been locally adopted by the City of Longwood.
Now when it comes to most project, people understand that if they construct a new building, enlarge a building, demolish a building or move a building, they need a permit to do so, but the terms alter, and repair are usually misconstrued. The second misconception is the need for a permit for buildings/ structures other than a dwelling unit or commercial building. In the state of Florida, and adopted and recognized by the City of Longwood, any structure placed, erected, repaired, constructed, altered, repaired, moved or demolished must have a building permit applied for and approved prior to commencing any associated work. This includes, but is not limited to decks, porches, pools, pergolas, sheds, fences, and any electrical, mechanical, gas or plumbing work.
Let’s focus on the two terms alter or repair. To alter a building or structure is to change the existing floor plan, layout or use of a building/ structure. A repair is defined, “to reconstruct or renew of any part of an existing building/ structure for the purpose of its maintenance or to correct damage.” This can be misleading, but in general if you are only replacing a small area, let’s say of your house siding, you would not need a permit to do so. If you need to repair more, than yes a building permit is required. It can be difficult to understand the break between small area and more, but it is always recommended to contact the building division for clarification.
What happens if I do not pull a permit? If a permit is required, then you as the property/ building owner will be held in violation of the Florida Building Code, and the City of Longwood Municipal code, and at minimum a double permit fee will apply. This may only be the start. Depending on what the work was, how much has been done, and where it is located can add further complications to the violation. For instance, if you build a building/ structure in a flood zone, it is possible that you will have to remove it, at your own cost. Secondly, if your work has gone beyond a required inspection, the work will need to be removed in order for the required inspection to be completed, once the permit is issued.
Again, it is recommended to follow these three steps:
- Always hire state licensed contractors, and make sure you understand what work they are charging you for. Always ask to see their state license.
- Always check to make sure if a building permit is required, if you are not sure, prior to commencing.
- As the legal property owner, you are the ultimate responsible party for any action or work being done on your property. Make sure that the contractor you hire has applied, received and posts all required permits on the property prior to commencing the work.