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Thread: City Permits and basement bedroom

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    Default City Permits and basement bedroom

    So, we want to add a window into our basement to create a "legal" bedroom. The room we want to add the window is essentially a bedroom now. Just missing a window and smoke detector. The requirement for having a smoke detector is fairly new and you are not required to retrofit existing bedrooms with them. So, what if I didn't get a permit? What are the ways the city can determine that it's a new window location and not just a replacement window?

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    100% in my opinion.

    Getting permits just means the city knows your home is worth more resulting in higher property tax.

    My house had all its permits done when the basement got finished. My neighbors on the other hand did zero permits and we have a $1900 difference so basically the same house.
    Professionally Retired

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    Quote Originally Posted by arcticcat522 View Post
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    So, we want to add a window into our basement to create a "legal" bedroom. The room we want to add the window is essentially a bedroom now. Just missing a window and smoke detector. The requirement for having a smoke detector is fairly new and you are not required to retrofit existing bedrooms with them. So, what if I didn't get a permit? What are the ways the city can determine that it's a new window location and not just a replacement window?
    This is the WORST $200 that you could ever "save" in your entire life. Please stop thinking about it, immediately.
    When you sell, it will be exposed and you'll be forced to deal with it at a very inopportune time and the saved $200 will then cost you $2,000.
    When you bought the house the the report said ___ bedrooms and when you sell it will say ___+1 bedrooms which will immediately raise the question and you will get found out. It may cost you a sale and the city will do whatever they feel like to have you pay to poke around in ALL aspects of that development as much as they feel necessary.
    You'll be adding arc fault circuit breakers, CO/smoke detectors in the hall and bedroom, pray that the wiring wasn't aluminum or that will get gutted, stud distance in the walls, adequate number of plug ins...
    Don't.

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    How will the city know? Do they check the MLS? Or would it be the prospective buyer/real estate agent do some sort of search? As far as the number of bedrooms is concerned, we made an upstairs bedroom into a walk in for the master. Total bedrooms will remain the same as when we purchased. The electrical requirements are not a concern for me. The bedroom will be safe. Does anyone review the Real Property Reports? I think that might be one way the city could find out since the window well would be a new addition when we sell in the future.

    I'm an electrician

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    I'm not entirely aware of your situation so i'll explain it from my experience. It's not the permits that you really need, it's the inspection saying that you did it the way they say you're supposed to. When I did my basement I pulled the relevant permits because:

    1. Resale value of the home would be impacted if I didn't have the permits for a developed basement. Realtors won't be able to list things that were done without a permit, or not done with what the permit said (eg. One of my bedrooms rooms didn't have a large enough window egress to be a bedroom, so he can't list it as a bedroom and had to list it as a den). Additionally for someone later to obtain the permit, the inspector will need to see behind the wall so there will be a lot of demo/rebuild. It will affect the value of the home to a buyer. I'm actually prepping me home for sale so this one is top of my mind right now.
    2. If there's ever an issue that results in an insurance claim, you might get the claim denied. Electrical permit + electrical inspection is the evidence that says what you did was permitted. No permit = anything you say about what you did will not hold water, regardless if you are an electrician or not. Worst case scenario, an electrical fire originating in that room which burned your house down, and the insurance company denies coverage because of an unauthorized developed because you can't prove it was authorized (permit + inspection).

    For me, it just wasn't worth the risk to save a few hundred dollars when I was spending 20K+ on a basement.

    Also just an FYI, when they changed the code a few years ago for what bedrooms needed, there were a few other changes beyond the smoke detectors: Size of window wells (they increased the size needed, so my home built in 08 didn't have a large enough window well) and tamper proof outlets.

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    Realtors and buyers ask about permits when you go to sell.
    But it sounds like your basement is already developed and you are just adding a window.
    In this case, you can likely get away with it.
    Last edited by phreezee; 03-13-2019 at 12:28 PM.

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    Agree 100% with Penis Mightier. By adding a window, you must add a window well (of a specific three dimensional size) which will necessitate an updated RPR. This will make it very obvious what was changed, and bring about the permit question.

    The permit process with the city is easy. KPHMPH isn't wrong when he suggests it's mostly a revenue-collecting exercise, but it's one best complied with as a homeowner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arcticcat522 View Post
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    How will the city know? Do they check the MLS? Or would it be the prospective buyer/real estate agent do some sort of search? As far as the number of bedrooms is concerned, we made an upstairs bedroom into a walk in for the master. Total bedrooms will remain the same as when we purchased. The electrical requirements are not a concern for me. The bedroom will be safe. Does anyone review the Real Property Reports? I think that might be one way the city could find out since the window well would be a new addition when we sell in the future.

    I'm an electrician
    You turned a bedroom into a closet and think when you sell no one will notice? Did I read that right?

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    Your window also has to be a certain distance from the property line to make it a legal bedroom as well.

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    Hahahaha, you read it right. Thinking about it now, there is no way they wouldn't notice. But would they care. I essentially just opened a wall between the 2 closets. Non load bearing.

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    Do you really want a window cut into your foundation without a inspector coming to check the framing and it having properly been assessed?

    Basement windows need permits for a reason - improper lintels, improper framing, will lead to cracks along sawcuts and more often than not the contractors will half-ass it knowing they're not being inspected.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arcticcat522 View Post
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    Hahahaha, you read it right. Thinking about it now, there is no way they wouldn't notice. But would they care. I essentially just opened a wall between the 2 closets. Non load bearing.
    I Mean depending on the exact situation. But I think it would be a huge turn off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyL View Post
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    Do you really want a window cut into your foundation without a inspector coming to check the framing and it having properly been assessed?

    Basement windows need permits for a reason - improper lintels, improper framing, will lead to cracks along sawcuts and more often than not the contractors will half-ass it knowing they're not being inspected.
    I would be doing all the work with help/advice from my neighbour who is a contractor, also I can ask some other builders we work for.
    I am leaning toward getting the permit now with everyone's opinion. For what it's worth, a few contractors say not to worry about getting one, but I see the peace of mind it would bring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arcticcat522 View Post
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    I would be doing all the work with help/advice from my neighbour who is a contractor, also I can ask some other builders we work for.
    I am leaning toward getting the permit now with everyone's opinion. For what it's worth, a few contractors say not to worry about getting one, but I see the peace of mind it would bring.
    Good. It's the right thing to do. As I tried to mention and then others clarified, the permit leads to the proof of inspection and that's what you really need to be able to prove to a buyer in the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arcticcat522 View Post
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    For what it's worth, a few contractors say not to worry about getting one
    The last contractor that told me that, then had their shitty gas install failed three times in a row by the City inspector - for entirely valid reasons. I've had my complaints about nosey inspectors, but I also get suspicious about contractors that push for a no-permit job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BerserkerCatSplat View Post
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    The last contractor that told me that, then had their shitty gas install failed three times in a row by the City inspector - for entirely valid reasons. I've had my complaints about nosey inspectors, but I also get suspicious about contractors that push for a no-permit job.
    OmG how incompetarded does someone have to be to fail cutting and threading pipe that holds 5psi natural gas??!
    Amazing but you're absolutely right. Alberta is full of "contractors" that perform work as well as a shaved ape.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThePenIsMightier View Post
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    OmG how incompetarded does someone have to be to fail cutting and threading pipe that holds 5psi natural gas??!
    Amazing but you're absolutely right. Alberta is full of "contractors" that perform work as well as a shaved ape.
    how about a professional plumber who ran hot water to my toilet... the fucking bowl was steaming and so hot you couldn't even touch it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hampstor View Post
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    how about a professional plumber who ran hot water to my toilet... the fucking bowl was steaming and so hot you couldn't even touch it.
    Exactly. It's why so many of us are on a car forum talking about fixing our own cars.
    "Professional" just means you paid them to do it. Nothing more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hampstor View Post
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    how about a professional plumber who ran hot water to my toilet... the fucking bowl was steaming and so hot you couldn't even touch it.
    That sucks, but is kind of hilarious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hampstor View Post
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    how about a professional plumber who ran hot water to my toilet... the fucking bowl was steaming and so hot you couldn't even touch it.
    That's actually so funny. If it wasn't super hot, it might actually make it a nice place to sit; little miniature sauna for your undercarriage.

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