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Does the Association Need a Building Permit?

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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8 Comments
  • tanya gibson
    October 12, 2009

    This is a permit related question from me, a homeowner, regarding write-ups while under an active permit:
    Can an HOA write you up for work that is in progress when you are under an active county permit for that work? My HOA wanted me to move my old car from my driveway – this attempt did not work as the car is fully licensed and insured. Then a week later I received a notice that I have to appear in front of a committee due to my house not being complete. I feel this is in retaliation for the vehicle as the property manager has been fully informed of my progress and was fully informed when my permit was extended due to the work not being completed (Aug 09). The previous write ups, and compliance dates coincided with my permit dates. This one does not and is too coincidental coming just after my car issue. They have threatened to fine me even though our documents do not provide for any fine situations and despite the fact that I am under an active permit. Is there any past law situations that have addressed write ups and threatened fines from an HOA that does not have the ability to fine and are threatening to take such action on a homeowner under a current legal county permit? Thank you in advance.

  • Doreen Westcott
    March 15, 2010

    When does a condominium not need a permit? Can volunteer unit owners do repairs? Can employees do repairs? If so what type of repairs? And as unit owners of all common area, can we all be considered our own contractor.
    Doreen
    RESPONSE: Any work that requires a license must be performed by licensed and insured contractors. Remember, the board has fiduciary duties to the members and saving a few dollars on the front end may not wind up saving money at all, but lead to expensive/time consuming hassles. I worte an article for Common Ground Magazine entitled Cutting Corners, where I provide examples of problems that resulted from non-permitted work.

  • Sally
    March 25, 2010

    Can the city request you produce a permit for work done on your condo 41 years ago (under a different owner) when the condo building was originally built? And then fine you if you cannot produce this permit information?

  • Mary
    June 15, 2010

    I recieved an approval letter from my HOA to build a shed. In the letter it states to build as submitted.This is what I did.I built as submitted, per the drawlings and pictures. Then 2 years later they are sending me violation letters. The board stated they do not have a time line to inspect structres and mine fell through due to the management company, and they have the right at any time to reject the structure if they see fit.
    Here is where I am confussed and do not understand, at the bottom of the letter it states to follow all ARC rules. I am confussed because the Management company said if the shed was out of the scope from the CC&R’s I need to submit a request. I submitted my request because less then a foot of the shed would pop out. In the mean time they have approve a batting cage that sits at least 10 feet up above the wall. Is this an issue for the Federal Housing Act. Is there no time limit on rejecting a structure that had a pre apprval?

  • C Leverock
    July 12, 2010

    We have a condo unit that installed tile in their unit. Does the unit owner need a permit? Does the Association need a permit for the tile installed in the unit referred to above.
    RESPONSE: Restrictions on alterations, such as installation of tile, are different for every community. You would have to review the governing documents, association policies and rules to determine what procedures are involved.
    As for a permit – you can contact the local building official or code enforcement office to determine whether a permit is required.

  • Doreen
    October 29, 2010

    Question. for a Condo association
    Is it legal to have a General Contractor pull a permit,
    check on the work being done, order the county inspection, and have a maintenance man employed by our condo association do the work with him not having any type of license If the maintenance man needs a license, what type would he need for siding repair or deck repairs
    RESPONSE: Please read the post: https://www.floridacondohoalawblog.com/2009/06/articles/construction-issues-contractua/protecting-the-association-against-unlicensed-contractors/
    We also have information on this site regarding permit requirements and the like.

  • Doreen
    October 29, 2010

    Question. for a Condo association
    Is it legal to have a General Contractor pull a permit,
    check on the work being done, order the county inspection, and have a maintenance man employed by our condo association do the work with him not having any type of license If the maintenance man needs a license, what type would he need for siding repair or deck repairs.