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How Plumbing Permits are Procured Changes from City to City

Plumbing PermitsThis is such a gray area and can be vastly different from city to city.  No one really wants to pull (“pull” is the term used by the construction trades when referring to taking out a permit) a plumbing permit but most municipalities ask you to take one out for any number or reasons. From repairs to renovations, to new construction most plumbing procedures fall under a city’s building permit code requirements. Here is an example of a U.S. city’s verbiage when addressing plumbing as a trade; “Permits are required but not limited to: Plumbing repairs and renovations” we can’t think of anything plumbing related other than a bid that does not fall under those parameters. Not all villages are this vague but you can see with type this of language it can be confusing and frustrating.

Plumbing PermitsOther than assuring work is done correctly there are obviously reasons behind the plumbing code permits that are directly related to revenue generation however there are many reasons for a homeowner to insist on a permit being taken out. A homeowner can’t always be worried about a plumbing permit in emergency situations, rodding, toilet repair etc. but when there is time to plan a plumbing procedure it’s not a bad idea. We’re going to list a few things that are asked of contractors (all contractors) on the same village’s permit application with the all encompassing permit requirements and we think it will become quite clear as to why it’s a good idea. The below is NOT an unusual set of requirements.

  • Homeowner’s Name and contact info
  • Description of the Job
  • Contractors Name and contact information
  • License number and contractor is to be registered with the city. The registration usually involves a city bond, this bond protects both the village and the homeowner

Is it becoming clearer as to why some of these things are required by cities around the country? It holds the contractor accountable for the work/service they provide. This will not stop every white van contractor from doing repairs in your area but it will give the homeowner some peace of mind if they choose to go through the proper permit procedures.

Usually the plumbing permit fee in non metro areas is based upon the number of fixtures installed or repairs performed. For instance if you are roughing in a basement bathroom, you’ve typically got a lavatory, toilet and tub/shower, possibly an ejector pump and a floor drain. The village may charge $10.00 per item installed for a total of $50.00. Charges vary from city to city, town to town so be sure to contact your local building departments for a detailed explanation.

That brings us to pulling plumbing permits in major metropolitan areas. The process is usually very different, it is next to impossible to enforce all the little plumbing repairs so big cities are usually more lenient with small repairs and alterations but when a permit is required the scrutiny is much greater and the length of time to procure the permit is much longer. In quite a few major metro areas there are firms that do nothing else but push the permit process forward they are called “permit expediters”. Here is the basic process for procuring a plumbing permit in some large municipalities:

Produce at least two(2) complete sets of architectural and plumbing drawings. Both sets of drawings must be stamped by a licensed architect and mechanical or plumbing engineer.
After the drawings are transmitted to the municipality they will be given to their plan review department where they are checked to assure that they meet all codes. If they do not, they are returned with comments. Those issues must be corrected and the process begins all over again.

In some cases the municipality will allow the expediter to make the corrections on the drawings thereby reducing the permit process time. Keep in mind, the plumbing drawings must delineate the properly sized waste, vent and domestic hot and cold water piping.

As a side note and this applies to both commercial/industrial and residential plumbing, if a permit is pulled for a particular repair and it is an existing home, tenant or commercial space it gives the eventual plumbing inspector the opportunity to visually inspect the rest of the exposed plumbing. It is not uncommon for a plumbing inspector to site multiple code violations for things completely unrelated to the plumbing work he or she was there to inspect.

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