On very rare occasions will a building permit not be required. When in doubt, the Association should assume that a permit must be obtained. Most construction work requires a permit. Section 104.1.1 of the Florida Building Code provides: “Any owner, authorized agent or contractor who desires to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy or occupant content of a building or structure, or any outside area to be used as part of the building’s designated occupancy (single or mixed) or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert, or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by the technical codes, or to cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit for the work.” Building permits are issued by the local building official in the name of the person performing the work and only licensed contractors, or owners/builders may obtain a permit. It is not surprising that Associations are not familiar with local building codes. Most Associations believe that it is the contractor’s responsibility to make sure a building permit has been obtained, but that is not the case. The Association, as property owner is held responsible for obtaining the required building permit. Many times, a contractor may try to avoid the building permit requirement. However, if the building inspector finds the work in progress without the required permit, the Association will be cited (not the contractor) for having work done without a permit. This usually results in double fees for the permit and/or fines for having work done without a permit. Why get a permit? Because it is the law. Working without a permit is illegal and can result in fines and cause problems for the Association down the road. A permit provides the Association the services of building department plans reviewers, inspectors and technical experts. In addition to providing advice, these experts approve each phase of the construction project, verifying that the work is performed pursuant to the applicable building code and the approved plans. A building permit and compliance with the applicable building codes protects the Association. It ensures that the completed work meets certain specific quality standards that will protect the Association and its membership. If the Association does not obtain the necessary permit, the building authority will issue an advisory notice. Once a permit is obtained, the cost is usually double for an after the fact permit. Furthermore, there may be fees for a third party engineering analysis if areas of the work are concealed or do not meet code. If no action is taken, a Notice of Violation is issued which usually results in fines being levied against the Association. The State of Florida and its different local jurisdictions, require standards of construction for all properties in the state. The state relies on local governments to enforce these regulations. If the Association is not certain if a permit is required it should call the local building department before any work begins. Always ask to see the permit for the project. If no permit is obtained, the Association will be legally responsible.
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