If You Pull a Construction Permit, You’re the Contractor – Ready or Not

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Whether you’re remodeling or adding a new room, be careful! In the past, the Better Business Bureau has offered tips on how to hire a home improvement contractor, but there is more that homeowner’s should be aware of to avoid a great deal of trouble down the line.

We’ve stated before that homeowner’s should ask if the contractor is licensed by the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board (AL-HBLB), especially for work that is $10,000 or more. For any major construction or repairs on your home, permits must be pulled by a licensed contractor. While there are many legitimate contractors, some with only a limited license (for work below the $10,000 threshold) or none at all may offer a low-ball estimate for the project. Knowing full well that they will not be able to pull a permit without the proper license, the contractor will ask the homeowner to pull it instead. That’s where the trouble starts.

Don’t fall into this trap! In an effort to save money, you will set yourself up for financial and legal headaches in the future. Here’s why. By pulling your own permit at the request of a company you’ve hired:

  1. Legally, you are considered to be the contractor and are required to “materially supervise the work done.” It’s against the law to do this and then compensate someone else to supervise the project for you. In this case, the person you hired for the job now becomes your sub-contractor.
  2. You are liable for any accidents on the job – and accidents often happen. Examples include crew injuries, damage of adjoining properties, gas and water line breaks, etc. This can cost you a great deal of money in hospital bills and repairs of property damage. Properly licensed contractors are insured to cover incidents like these, something that is confirmed the Alabama Homebuilder’s Licensure Board before a license is issued. Normal homeowner’s insurance does not cover accidents or work done by an unlicensed contractor.
  3. You are responsible for any shoddy workmanship that does not meet building codes and will ultimately have to pay to bring your home up to code again. This can cost 100’s to 1000’s of dollars. Properly licensed builders go through stringent vetting by the AL-HBLB to demonstrate competence, experience, and financial stability.
  4. When it come times to sell your home, you may have difficulty if it is not up to code. Since the majority of prospective homebuyers who go through a real estate agency will have a home inspected before purchase, building code violations will be uncovered.

The bottom line: Never pull a permit yourself unless you plan to oversee the whole construction project and are willing to assume full liability. If you are asked to pull a permit by someone you’ve hired, beware!

What is the Homeowner’s Recovery Fund? Read more….

To report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. Find trustworthy businesses at bbb.org.