All too often, homeowners hire unlicensed and unregistered contractors to do home improvement jobs. These types of workers may cut corners and skimp on important procedures.
This could include a failure to secure the necessary permits for a remodel or upgrade. One expert says that up to 50% of homes in the US have some form of unpermitted work on site.
Why does this happen so often? What does it mean for your insurance coverage? Does homeowners insurance cover unpermitted work?
Read on as we discuss permits, when to procure them, and what unpermitted work entails for homeowners insurance. We'll also provide homeowners insurance tips to remediate unpermitted work.
Many homeowners don't realize how many home improvement projects require a permit. It's easy to assume that permits are only required for a major change, such as installing a pool or adding a new bedroom to their home.
The reality is that most projects that involve construction, alterations, or demolitions will require a permit. The permits you need for a home improvement will vary from city to city. We always recommend contacting your local township to ask if your home improvement project requires a permit.
What is the purpose of a permit? Building permits keep residents and community members safe. The goal is to prevent unnecessary injuries, damage, and deaths caused by faulty work.
The term "unpermitted work" applies to any work done to a building that was completed without obtaining the required permit.
Not all home improvement projects require a permit. For example, there is a significant list of projects that don't require a permit in Cambridge, MA.
For example, repainting your interior doesn't typically require a permit. Doing so without a permit does not mean that the work was unpermitted.
In some cases, contractors skip the steps to procure a permit. In others, homeowners skip the steps to procure a permit. This can occur knowingly and unknowingly.
Permits cost money, and contractors and homeowners alike may skip them to lower the cost of the project. Because permit laws vary, inexperienced contractors and homeowners may not know that a permit is required.
Buyers can also fall victim to unpermitted work. They may not realize that the previous owner conducted unpermitted work when updating or maintaining the property. When you're buying a home, make sure to ask for all documentation of home improvement projects.
As we mentioned earlier, people often skip the step of getting a permit to save money. The reality is that this can become a costly mistake if you need to file a homeowners insurance claim.
Because permits ensure the safety of your property, insurance companies consider unpermitted work negligible. As you may know, most insurance providers will not provide coverage when damage results from negligence.
What does that mean for you? Let's take a look at some of the practical insurance consequences that arise from unpermitted work.
Let's say that your home floods after unpermitted plumbing work. The lack of a permit counts as negligence. That means that your insurance company will deny your homeowner's insurance claim.
Without insurance coverage, you can wind up with some major out-of-pocket costs. For example, homeowners insurance typically covers liabilities. If someone sustains an injury on your property while the project is underway, you may be held liable and have to pay those costs, yourself.
If your insurance company discovers unpermitted work on your property, they may not stop with claim denials. One possible outcome is that they raise your monthly insurance premium. Another possible result is that they will cancel your policy, altogether.
What if you purchase a home only to discover that it contains unpermitted work? What if you realize too late that your contractor never procured a permit before completing the job? There is still a way that you can protect your property and your insurance coverage.
The process to do so is called remediation. We're here to warn you that is expensive and time-consuming. However, it is also necessary.
To start, you will need to contact your local township or permitting office. Fill them in on the nature of your problem and ask for remediation services.
A local inspector will come to your home to assess the unpermitted work. In some cases, this will involve tearing down or undoing some of that work. The goal is to see if the work has been done to code.
Whether or not the work is sound, you will still need to procure the proper permits. If the work is not sound, you will need to have it redone. This process can be daunting, but it's necessary to protect your home, your safety, and your insurance coverage.
Skipping the steps to procure a permit can seem like an easy way to save money. Does homeowners insurance cover unpermitted work? The answer, unfortunately, is no.
In the end, forgoing permits can cost a lot more than the permits, themselves. Always ensure that your work is permitted and remediate any work that isn't.
Are you looking for a better homeowners insurance policy in Cambridge? Do you want to purchase your home, auto, and health insurance from the same place? Contact us and we'll get started on providing you with the best insurance policies for your needs.