? About building permits
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Protect Your Home Theater Investment By Getting The Right Building Permits

Its a good idea to get the necessary building permits before starting any major home theater renovation. They are only needed if you're changing the structure of your home, such as finishing a basement or moving some walls around but always check with your municipality to be sure.

When applying for a building permit, you'll have to fill out whatever forms are required. You'll also have to provide a written description or a detailed diagram of the work you intend to do and a cost estimate. Don't worry too much about drawing up a perfect architectural diagram. The permit coordinator only really cares if whatever you're changing appears to affect the structural integrity of your home, or if it introduces a safety concern. If they have any problems with your plan, they'll either send it back for clarification or call you and talk to you about it.

Show me the money!

The cost estimate they want is usually based on the price a professional contractor would charge you. There's no real set formula to determine this because different contractors will charge you different prices. It also depends on the features you want to put in your remodel. The cost of finishing a basement for example is about $50 to $75 per square foot. So assuming $75 and you have 1,000 sq.ft to do, you're looking at an estimated cost of about $7,500. This takes us to our next question...

How much does a permit cost? The fee to take out a building permit varies from community to community. In general, you could expect to pay around $5 to $10 per $1,000 of construction costs. The minimum fee is usually around $50 or more and the maximum around $500. Check your local municipal office or its website for the costs that apply to you. So the permit for our $7,500 basement, for example, would set us back $10 x 7.5 or $75.

If you're just putting up a regular wall in a room on the main floor of your home, or knocking something down to put in a doorway, your permit cost will be lower. Most people doing standard remodeling work will usually only have to pay the minimum permit cost.

You may also need inspection at various stages of construction as well. This is up to the permit coordinator so please check to be sure. You'll need a permit even if the work is to be completed by a professional contractor.

Electrical permits are especially important because any fire caused by new electrical wiring will be under intense scrutiny by your insurance company. If a permit was not taken out and damage occurs, your insurance company may refuse to pay. Here's more information on electrical permits and inspections.

Would you like a fine with that?

Its not like you're going to go to prison if you put up a wall without first getting a building permit. Fines and penalties vary from municipality to municipality. They can be as lax as having to pay a fine at twice the cost of the permit itself (~$50 x 2) to as severe as having to tear down whatever it was that you built, at your time and expense of course.

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